Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo wins Best Zoo Lights two years in a row

Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo comes in second place

Each winter zoos across the U.S. get into the holiday spirit with their own festive seasonal displays. Once the sun sets and the animals go to bed, these 10 U.S. zoos celebrate the season with some of the best lights displays around, according to 10Best readers.

  • Zoo Lights at the Memphis Zoo
    Memphis

    Guests craving a white Christmas will find snow at the Memphis Zoo’s annual Zoo Lights celebration. While the zoo grounds are adorned with a colorful, twinkling display of thousands of LED lights, guests can pay a visit to real reindeer, say hi to Santa in his workshop, ride camels, go ice skating and even see some animals on exhibit in the aquarium and herpetarium. Visitor favorites include the 200-foot-long tunnel of lights and the 90-foot illuminated ferris wheel.
    Photo courtesy of Memphis Zoo

  • Electric Safari at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
    Colorado Springs

    Some 50 acres at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are illuminated with 85 light sculptures during the park's annual Electric Safari. Select animal exhibits remain open during the festivities, and warming fires spread throughout the grounds offer a place to warm those cold fingers.
    Photo courtesy of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo / Facebook

  • PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo
    Cincinnati

    During the annual PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo, some 3-million LED lights illuminate the night. Visitors can meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus, watch a lights show on Swan Lake, drool over a gingerbread village, munch on s'mores or ride the Toyland Express train. 
    Photo courtesy of Cassandre Crawford/Cincinnati Zoo

  • Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo
    Columbus, Ohio

    Guests of the Columbus Zoo during the annual Wildlights celebration can wander along paths illuminated by millions of multicolored LED lights. Animated musical light shows, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, real reindeer and seasonal treats (hot chocolate and candy canes) add to the festive atmosphere. Although many of the animals are asleep, many indoor viewing areas remain open. 
    Photo courtesy of Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

  • Lights Before Christmas at the Riverbanks Zoo
    Columbia, S.C.

    Nearly 1 million dazzling lights illuminate Riverbanks Zoo during Lights Before Christmas, one of Columbia's longest running holiday events. Festivities include a Holly Jolly Christmas Parade, nightly visits with Santa, an animated story tree, a Jingle Bell Bonfire and plenty of holiday treats, like s'mores and hot cocoa.
    Photo courtesy of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

  • Christmas at the Zoo at the Indianapolis Zoo
    Indianapolis

    This year's Christmas at the Zoo celebration is set to feature an all-new enchanted Santa's Village where guests can meet the merry man himself, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus and see the reindeer in their barn. Several animal residents will stay up for the illuminated celebration at the Indianapolis Zoo, including seals, sea lions, brown bears, red pandas and tigers.
    Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Zoo

  • ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo
    Phoenix

    Christmas comes to the Arizona desert in the form of ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo, when millions of lights adorn displays and a three-story lighted tree. Guests enjoy a lakeside light show, carousel and camel rides, photos with Santa Claus and even nightly snowfall.
    Photo courtesy of Phoenix Zoo

  • U.S Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo
    St. Louis

    While enjoying half a million holiday lights, guests of the Saint Louis Zoo during its annual Wild Lights event enjoy campfire s'mores around warming fire pits, live Christmas carolers and fireside storytellers, meet-and-greets with costumed characters and festive holiday crafts. Some animal exhibits, including Penguin & Puffin Coast, Sea Lion Sound, Polar Bear Point and the Insectarium remain open during the fun.
    Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Zoo

  • Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo
    Detroit

    For 24 nights throughout the holiday season, the Detroit Zoo gets bedecked with holiday cheer during Wild Lights. More than 5 million LED bulbs illuminate trees, buildings and some 230 animal sculptures. Guests can watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D, go ice skating in the Winter Rink or get a photo taken with Santa.
    Photo courtesy of Mark Gaskill / Detroit Zoo

  • Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo
    Toledo, Ohio

    The 2017 installment of Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo will feature more than 1 million holiday lights and some 200 illuminated animal images, as well as bumper cars, an ice slide, photo ops with Santa and an 85-foot Norway spruce tree decorated with 35,000 LED bulbs. Mom and dad can even grab a spiked beverage from the Beer Garden.
    Photo courtesy of Alex Goetz / Toledo Zoo

The top 10 winners in the category Best Zoo Lights are as follows:

  1. Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo
  2. Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo
  3. U.S Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo
  4. ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo
  5. Christmas at the Zoo at the Indianapolis Zoo
  6. Lights Before Christmas at the Riverbanks Zoo
  7. Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo
  8. PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo
  9. Electric Safari at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  10. Zoo Lights at the Memphis Zoo

Congratulations to all these winning events! 

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