Zoolights At The Smithsonian's National Zoo

David Hatef

The holidays would certainly be incomplete without bright, colorful lights illuminating the season’s dark, chilly evenings. And at the ZooLights event at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C., families are treated to a sparkling winter wonderland showcasing more than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights decorating the zoo’s trees, walkways and buildings, plus sculptures of its most popular animals such as gibbons, giant pandas, Asian elephants and a Komodo dragon.

The annual event runs from November 24 to January 1 (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31) from 5 to 9 p.m. Come join the thousands of visitors who have already made ZooLights a family holiday tradition. Aside from the festive lights that adorn the zoo, the free event also features live music performances, lots of opportunities for holiday shopping and plenty of tasty confections. Snack on roasted nuts, Christmas cookies, gingerbread, kettle corn and s’mores, or get into the holiday spirit with a cup of hot chocolate, mulled cider or eggnog.

Rides and attractions the entire family can enjoy include The Smithsonian's National Zoo Choo-Choo – a fun tour on a trackless train that takes visitors around the Great Cats exhibit, complete with views of the dazzling lights display, Snow-less Tubing – an exciting playground where adventurous guests get to take the plunge down one of the 150-foot-long tracks and the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel – a fantastic ride featuring 50 animal figurines highlighting the Zoo’s remarkable research.

What’s new for 2017? Visitors this year can enjoy the GRUMP Holiday Market (Dec.15-17, 5-9 p.m.), which is a European style outdoor market exhibiting arts and crafts by local artisans. Items such as glass art, home accessories, books, jewelry and handmade clothing will make for perfect holiday presents. For art enthusiasts, the CulturalDC’s SPACE4: Mobile Art Gallery is open every night. Washington D.C.’s first mobile gallery presents groundbreaking works by emerging local artists which are displayed inside portable shipping containers that travel across the city.

For more information, visit the National Zoo website.

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