PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo wins Best Zoo Lights

Winning event features 3 million LED lights

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.

  • 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 Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

  • Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo
    Toledo, Ohio

    The 2018 installment of Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo will feature more than a 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

  • Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo
    Detroit

    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 265 animal sculptures. Guests can watch Polar Express 4-D Experience or go ice skating on the Winter Rink.
    Photo courtesy of Joshua Hanford / Detroit Zoo

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

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

  • Electric Safari at 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 thaw those cold fingers.
    Photo courtesy of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo / Facebook

  • Let There Be Lights at Promised Land Zoo
    Branson, Mo.

    One of the few drive-thru light displays at a zoo, Let There Be Lights at Branson’s Promised Land Zoo features a 2-mile drive thru lights display with holiday tunes from the North Pole on 106.9 K-KLAUS. At the end of the drive, Candy Lane Courtyard has more lights displays, a live nativity petting zoo, hot chocolate and the chance to visit Santa and his reindeer.
    Photo courtesy of Branson's Promised Land Zoo / Facebook

  • Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
    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

  • 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. The 2018 event debuts live reindeer and a 4D theater.
    Photo courtesy of Phoenix Zoo

  • L.A. Zoo Lights at the Los Angeles Zoo
    Los Angeles

    Zoo goers at the Los Angeles Zoo are in for a holiday treat this year at L.A. Zoo Lights, where they can take a self-guided tour of animal-themed light displays, snap a photo with Santa Claus (on select days), observe real reindeer and warm up over a cup of cocoa or other holiday treats.
    Photo courtesy of Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

  • SunTrust Zoo Lights at the Memphis Zoo
    Memphis

    Guests craving a white Christmas will find snow at the Memphis Zoo’s annual SunTrust Zoo Lights celebration. While the zoo grounds are adorned with a colorful, twinkling display of nearly a million 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

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

  1. PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo - Cincinnati
  2. Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo - Toledo, Ohio
  3. Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo - Detroit
  4. U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo - St. Louis
  5. Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - Colorado Springs
  6. Let There Be Lights at Promised Land Zoo - Branson, Mo.
  7. Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden - Columbia, S.C.
  8. ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo - Phoenix
  9. L.A. Zoo Lights at the Los Angeles Zoo - Los Angeles
  10. SunTrust Zoo Lights at the Memphis Zoo - Memphis

Congratulations to all these winning zoos!

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