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Best Zoo Lights (2020)

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Note from 10Best: Someday, we'll all be ready to pack our suitcases again and head out on our next adventures. In the meantime, we'll keep supporting the places that inspire us. Contact individual zoos for the latest updates. 

  • PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

    PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo
    Cincinnati

    During the annual PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo, some four million LED lights illuminate the night. Visitors can meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus, watch a Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, drool over a gingerbread village, munch on s'mores or ride the North Polar Express train. 
    Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

  • Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo

    Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo
    Toledo, Ohio

    The 2020 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 an ice slide, photo ops with Santa and an 85-foot Norway spruce tree decorated with 35,000 LED bulbs. New this year, guests can take a carriage ride through Walbridge Park. The event will feature timed entry, so book your spot early.
    Photo courtesy of Toledo Zoo

  • Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain 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

  • Christmas at the Zoo at the Indianapolis Zoo

    Christmas at the Zoo at the Indianapolis Zoo
    Indianapolis

    The Indianapolis Zoo is celebrating its 53rd year of Christmas at the Zoo in 2020. This year’s event will feature more nights and more lights. Visit Santa’s Village to see St. Nick’s sleigh and reindeer or snap a selfie in front of a Christmas tree. The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir will provide the cheerful soundtrack.
    Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Zoo

  • WildLights at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

    WildLights at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
    Palm Desert, California

    The Living Desert is celebrating its 28th year of WildLights with more than a million lights decorating its pathways and life-size animal lanterns. Visitors can walk through a tunnel of lights, visit with St. Nick, get up close to Santa's reindeer, ride a carousel and participate in holiday arts and crafts.
    Photo courtesy of Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

  • Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

    Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
    Columbia, South Carolina

    Nearly a 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

  • U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis 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 plenty of holiday cheer. The 2020 event will feature timed ticket reservations for visitor, staff and animal safety.
    Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Zoo

  • Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

    Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo
    San Diego

    The San Diego Zoo in California does the holidays big with its annual Jungle Bells event, where guests can see light displays, animal sculptures and musical shows. The 2020 installment of the favorite community event had to be postponed due to COVID restrictions. Even though the park is closed, the San Diego Zoo continues its conservation work in the field.
    Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo

  • Holiday Lights at California Living Museum

    Holiday Lights at California Living Museum
    Bakersfield, California

    Holiday Lights at the California Living Museum (CALM Zoo) is entering its 18th year in 2020 with three million lights and 250 animated displays, a 200-foot tunnel of light and a 30-foot-tall drive-thru Christmas tree tunnel. The 2020 event will be drive-thru for visitor safety.
    Photo courtesy of California Living Museum

  • Dallas Zoo Lights

    Dallas Zoo Lights
    Dallas

    The 2020 Dallas Zoo Lights Presented by Reliant will take the form of a drive-thru holiday safari featuring more than a million lights, animal lanterns and an ice palace. The event will have timed tickets with limited capacity, so be sure to book early.
    Photo courtesy of Dallas Zoo

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.
 
The top 10 winners in the category Best Zoo Lights are as follows:
  1. PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo - Cincinnati
  2. Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo - Toledo, Ohio
  3. Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - Colorado Springs
  4. Christmas at the Zoo at the Indianapolis Zoo - Indianapolis
  5. WildLights at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens - Palm Desert, California
  6. Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden - Columbia, South Carolina
  7. U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo - St. Louis
  8. Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo - San Diego
  9. Holiday Lights at California Living Museum - Bakersfield, California
  10. Dallas Zoo Lights - Dallas

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning zoo holiday events!

License the 10Best Readers' Choice Award Logo

 

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