ZooLights Festival at the Washington, DC National Zoo

The Washington, DC Smithsonian’s National Zoo will celebrate the holidays with its annual free lights festival ZooLights — powered by Pepco - from Nov. 23 through Jan. 1, 2019 (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31) from 5 to 9 p.m.

The Zoo will be illuminated for 37 nights with over half-a-million brightly colored environmentally friendly LED lights and animal-shaped displays will transform the Zoo’s trees, walkways and buildings into a dynamic and colorful winter wonderland.

New this year, visitors can follow the twinkling lights down the pathway to the Elephant Outpost to the Zoo’s new Gingerbread Village, a magical land of frosted cookies and lollipops, giant gingerbread people cut-outs and a gingerbread throne perfect for friend-and-family photos.

Families can pause outside the Elephant Community Center to see a dazzling laser-light show, board the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Choo-Choo ($3 per person), sponsored by Metro by T-Mobile, for a journey around the Kids’ Farm or ride a favorite zoo animal on the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel ($3.50 per person).

Each night of ZooLights will also feature a live music or dance performance in the Great Meadow by local community or school groups beneath a new interactive light canopy that responds to music creating a unique sound and light show.

At the new “Reindeer Games Fun Zone,” sponsored by Geico, on Lion-Tiger Hill, visitors can zip down giant inflatable slides, try a holiday-themed obstacle course and twirl on illuminated rides. Tickets are $3 per person for each attraction; eight-ride punch cards valid for all rides/attractions will be for sale for $20 each (about a $26 value); $15 for members.

ZooLights is also hosting its second-annual GRUMP holiday market — a European-style outdoor market featuring the work of local artisans with unique gifts for all ages, from handmade clothing and accessories to artwork, handcrafted toys and sweet treats. GRUMP will be located at the Zoo’s Connecticut Avenue entrance Dec. 7, 8 and 9 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Admission to ZooLights is free. A flat-rate parking fee of $15 for Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) members and $25 for nonmembers will apply. Proceeds from ZooLights concessions and parking sales will benefit animal care and conservation science at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

Note that ZooLights does not feature the Zoo’s animals. All indoor animal exhibits will be closed to allow animals to get a full night’s rest. Visitors will be able to warm up indoors in the Zoo’s Visitor Center, Panda Plaza Gift Shop, Mane Grill and Great Cats Gift Shop.

For more information about ZooLights, visit - www.nationalzoo.si.edu/events/zoolights

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