A holiday family tradition everyone enjoys!

Lights Before Christmas 30th Anniversary!


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Vote for the Toledo Zoo’s Lights Before Christmas!

The Toledo Zoo has been nominated for USA Today’s 2015 10Best Readers’ Choice Award for Best Zoo Lights! Help us show the nation that Lights Before Christmas is the best zoo lights display in America!  Please share your pride and support by voting for us! You can vote for us once a day until December 21. Click here to vote for the Toledo Zoo on the USA Today web site

2015 Lights Before Christmas hours:

November 13, 2015 - January 3, 2016
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

Sunday - Thursday: 3 - 8 p.m. (Zoo closes at 9 p.m.)

Friday and Saturday: 3 - 9 p.m. (Zoo closes at 10 p.m.)

Lights Before Christmas admission rates:

*Rates apply all day each day during Lights.

Lucas County discounts do not apply for admission to special events, including Lights Before Christmas

Children under age 2: free
Children (age 2-11): $12
Adults (age 12-59): $15
Seniors (age 60+): $12

Make it an outing with advance group admission rates
(Group rates apply only for groups of 20 or more that have advanced reservations through the Group Sales department at 419-385-5721, ext. 6001.)

Children under age 2: free
Children (age 2-11): $10
Adults (age 12-59): $13
Seniors (age 60+): $10

Save money on your Lights admission
Look for specially marked Pepsi and Diet Pepsi cans with an offer to get a child’s Lights ticket free with the purchase of an adult’s Lights ticket at regular price.

Special Admission

Active or retired military members receive free admission.
- Discount also applies for military dependents with proof of dependency.
- Group discounts also available.
- Military discounts must be purchased at the gate and cannot be combined with other discounts.

Toledo Zoo members receive:
- Unlimited Monday through Thursday Lights Before Christmas visits AND
- One free weekend visit (Friday through Sunday) with a valid Toledo Zoo membership card.
Free admission is valid only for those persons covered under your membership category
Both named members are required to show a second form of identification. 
Cardholder substitutions are not permitted.
One of the named cardholders must be present whenever guest privileges are used.
Family Plus level or above membership guest privileges are documented.
Unlimited free admission is not valid for guests.
Reciprocal memberships are not valid for Lights Before Christmas admission.

Click here for detailed driving directions and maps

Holiday fun for everyone!

There is so much more to experience at Lights Before Christmas! Enjoy a Festive Feast, visit Santa, watch the Dancing lights, listen to carolers, marvel at ice carvings, visit Nature’s Neighborhood for model trains and more!

Ice Slide and Winter Village in the Amphitheatre

Start your holiday season with a thrilling trip down the Ice Slide located at the Amphitheatre! The popular Ice Slide has three lanes and operates daily 3 p.m. until the Zoo closes.  Riders must be at least 42 inches tall.

Ride passes
*available at the Ice Slide booth or the African Carousel booth:
• Three-ride pass: $6
• Seven-ride pass:  $11
Ride passes are valid until January 3, 2016

Our carousels are also part of the fun!
You can use your ride pass for the Ice Slide and also for our popular carousels. You can also purchase individual tickets to ride the carousels at the following rates:
African Animal Carousel in Africa!: $2 per rider
Historic carousel: $1.50 per rider

Winter Village
When you’re ready to relax for a while, visit the Winter Village marketplace in the Amphitheatre for treats, glow items, stocking stuffers and more. You can also purchase food and beverages and warm up by a fire pit.

Visit Santa!

Santa Claus greets visitors in the Great Hall of the Museum of Science each day beginning at 5 p.m.  Paid Santa photo packages are available, along with assorted concessions and treats.

Douglas the Talking Tree

Families can enjoy a show with Douglas the Talking Tree. Join in as Douglas leads the audience in favorite holiday songs in the Indoor Theatre of the Museum of Science.  Shows are approximately six minutes, begin at 5 p.m. and run every half hour until the final show at 8:30 p.m.

Walleye Night at the Zoo

Come meet the Toledo Walleye hockey team at the Zoo Amphitheater on Monday, December 7 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Learn more

Festive Feast at the Lodge

Festive Feast includes a delicious buffet, holiday sweet treats and the famous Zoo hot chocolate, all made by our in-house catering staff! Monday and Tuesday nights are family oriented with children’s activities, an animal encounter and photo opportunity with Santa. Wednesday nights are adult night-out themed with live entertainment and an animal encounter. Reservations are required. Ticket prices are $35 for adults and $25 for children ages 2-11 and include admission to Lights Before Christmas! For dates, additional information and to make reservations, please click here for more details

Treat your company or organization

A visit to Lights Before Christmas is a great way to thank your employees. For more information on group tickets (20 or more) and rental facilities, call the Group Sales Department at the Zoo at 419-385-5721, ext. 3092. We also have several great options for holiday parties at the Toledo Zoo! Click here to learn more

Holiday Animal Experience

Lights Before Christmas Holiday Animal Experience will begin each day at 3 p.m. in Tiger Terrace near the tiger sculpture. Visitors will be able to get up close and take photos of Bactrian camels and reindeer. Please note: Each species will be on exhibit separately. Schedules may vary. There will be a short intermission each evening.

Ice-carving Demos

Add some artistic coolness to your Lights visit with an ice-carving demonstration. Come to the Main Plaza and watch these masterpieces take form right before your eyes every Thursday evening in December, starting at 6 p.m.

Model Train Display

The model trains display by the Swanton Area Railroad and Model Club is always a favorite at Lights Before Christmas. Visitors of all ages love to watch the model trains circle around a small town decked out with hundreds of lighted displays, holiday scenery and plenty of fun, intricate details to discover. Visit the Workshop in Nature’s neighborhood to see this exciting display.

Zoo gifts are the best!

Looking for the perfect gift for friends and family members? Zoo gift cards, Zoo memberships, Wine Tastings and Zoo PAL animal adoptions make wonderful presents. We even have gifts for Zoo animals through our Giving Tree program.  Click here to learn more about our Zoo Gift Ideas web page

Summed up with yum

From handmade fudge, funnel cakes and fresh popcorn to cinnamon-glazed nuts, cinnamon pretzels and, of course, those holiday cookies, we’ll add a sweet touch to your evening. We’ve got hot chocolate, cappuccino, lattes and more to wash it down, too. Don’t forget that we offer full meal service in Carnivore Cafe near the Dancing Lights and at Karoo Snacks in our Africa! exhibit. You can also enjoy hot pizza and other yummy treats in the museum when you visit Santa!

Toledo Zoo Giving Tree

We all love the song I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, but what about Christmas for a hippopotamus? You can give gifts to Zoo animals through our Giving Tree program. Excellent animal care is part of the Toledo Zoo’s mission and part of that care is offering enrichment to our animals. Through the Giving Tree program, you contribute to our animal enrichment programs by purchasing enrichment items online or visiting the Giving Tree at Nature’s Neighborhood.  Click here to learn more Join us on December 31 for Noon Year’s Eve, when many animals will receive their Giving Tree treats while you watch!

Animals at Lights

This year’s 30th anniversary edition of Lights Before Christmas will also feature more cold-weather animals than ever before! When you need to warm up, step into our indoor viewing and exhibits areas.

Fun facts about Lights Before Christmas

Lights Before Christmas began in 1986 with 50,000 lights and an attendance of 71,000 visitors; the record attendance for a Lights season was 2014, with 206,937visitors.
• Toledo Zoo began using energy-efficient LED lights in 2002. Today, over half our lights are LED.
• Dancing Lights and the 85-foot Norway Spruce are decorated with all wide-angle LED lights.
• A core crew of 12-15 employees from the Zoo’s horticulture department begins decorating in early August.
• Nearly 70 miles of lights are utilized throughout the display.
• Nearly 50,000 feet or almost 10 miles of extension cords are used!
• During Lights, the Zoo makes more than 2,700 pounds of fudge, 6,800 gallons of hot chocolate, more than 7,400 cinnamon pretzels and decorates over 8,900 cookies.
• After Lights Before Christmas, it takes about two months to take down all the lights, then sort and store them for the following year.

Big Tree stats:
- In 2011, Travelocity named the Big Tree one of the top holiday trees in the nation.
- The Big Tree is a Norway spruce located near the Broadway entrance by the Conservatory.
- It’s 65-70 years old and more than 85 feet tall.
- The lowest branches from tip to tip are 50 feet in diameter.
- The trunk circumference is eight feet seven inches and it is estimated to weigh seven tons—almost the combined weight of Renee and Louie, two of our African elephants.
- More than 35,000 energy-efficient LED lights (almost 3 miles of lights) cover the Big Tree.
- It takes a crew approximately one week to decorate the entire tree.

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