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Magical Holiday Zoo Lights & Winter Nights

A lighted ornament encapsulates a young boy who is in awe of the magic of the zoo's holiday light display

A Family’s Holiday Adventure at Ohio’s Zoos! 

Each Christmas, my family enjoys experiencing the holiday magic across Ohio. This past Christmas season, our adventure took us to the Akron Zoo’s “Wild Lights.” Come with us as we explore how our zoos celebrate the holidays and see why my family — grown kids, grandkids, and all will return for another magical experience.

Akron Zoo Lights: Chasing away the chill of an Ohio Winter Evening

Stepping into the zoo on that crisp winter evening, wrapped in our snug coats, we were greeted by a wonderland of twinkling lights. Telling us right away, we knew we were in for an unforgettable night.

The zoo is alive with the festive spirit, and each turn unveils another spectacular display. The “Rockin’ Lighted Spectacular” is a true show-stopper, with a dazzling wall of animated lights dancing to the holiday tunes, leaving us all in awe. The “Holly Jolly Hillside” is pure enchantment, with trees lighting up in harmony with the music, creating a symphony of lights and sounds that delighted us all.

Sipping hot chocolate with a cheeky adult twist, we savored the warmth and sweetness, a perfect antidote to the winter chill. The kids were over the moon with their color-changing lighted candy canes, waving them around like little magicians.

The highlight for the grandbabies was meeting Santa Claus. Their faces lit up with pure joy, reflecting the glow of the festive lights. We even indulged in some delicious s’mores at Mrs. C’s Sweets — a treat for everyone!

Navigating the zoo was a breeze, even with a wheelchair in tow, thanks to the gentle slopes suitable for strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs. 

The animals, too, seemed to join in our festive mood, adding to the lively atmosphere.

It was an evening filled with laughter, wonder, and the warmth of family. The Akron Zoo’s Wild Lights is more than just a display. It celebrates the holiday season, bringing together the charm of wildlife and the excitement of Christmas in a truly spectacular fashion. What a joyous, energetic, and heartwarming experience for all of us!

Ohio zoos light up the night for the Christmas season

From Toledo to Cincinnati, Zoos across the state are getting in on the spirit with dazzling holiday light displays. Discover one near you and plan a heartwarming time with family or friends. 

  • Toledo Zoo and Aquarium: The award-winning Big Tree adds to this year’s holiday ambiance. Also, over 200 illuminated animal images will further enhance the festive atmosphere.
  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo: “Wild Winter Lights” transforms the zoo into a winter wonderland. Boasting over 1.5 million dazzling lights, it promises a spectacular view. Additionally, the festival features costumed characters, carousel rides, and ice carvers. Furthermore, model train displays and a musical light show enrich the experience. Lastly, live music completes this all-ages holiday extravaganza.
  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: Wildlights invites visitors to a world of holiday magic through January 7, 2024. This cherished holiday tradition features millions of LED lights. Along with animated musical light shows and other holiday festivities exclusive to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden: “PNC Festival of Lights” runs through January 7, 2024, and is a visual feast. With 4 million shimmering lights to thrill guests. Visitors can explore Santa’s Village, take pictures with Santa, and enjoy the Under the Sea Area and Elfie Selfie Station.

From the enchanting “Lights Before Christmas” at the Toledo Zoo to the mesmerizing “Wild Winter Lights” of Cleveland, and from the vibrant “Wildlights” of Columbus to the radiant “PNC Festival of Lights” in Cincinnati, Ohio truly came alive with the spirit of the season. Our wonderful evening reminds us of the beauty of coming together, the wonder of nature, and the timeless joy of the holiday season as we create memories that will last a lifetime.


The Christmas season is in full swing. Villages, towns, and destinations across the area are embracing the holiday spirit, each showcasing its charm and splendor as it celebrates. Visit Compass Ohio Events to find a celebration near you.

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