A holiday tradition that everyone enjoys!

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A holiday tradition for your whole family

It’s our 30th anniversary for Lights Before Christmas! The Toledo Zoo’s Lights Before Christmas is a wonderful holiday tradition. Visitors enjoy displays containing millions of lights and many other holiday-themed attractions. Enjoy a holiday-themed Festive Feast at the Holiday Lodge, Watch the Dancing Lights display near Cheetah Valley, hear the joyous sounds of carolers on selected evenings, and of course don’t forget visits with Santa in the Museum. Our award-winning Nature’s Neighborhood is also open and buzzing with holiday activity and look for other great holiday attractions!

Details for attractions and activities in 2015 will be posted here in the weeks prior to grand opening so please check back!

2015 Lights Before Christmas hours:

November 13, 2014 to January 3, 2016
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day

Sunday - Thursday: 3-8pm (Zoo closes at 9pm)

Friday and Saturday: 3-9pm (Zoo closes at 10pm)

Lights Before Christmas admission rates:

Lights Before Christmas admission
*Rates apply all day each day during the Lights. Lucas County discounts do not apply for admission to special events, including Lights Before Christmas
Adults (age 12-59): $15
Seniors (age 60+): $12
Children (age 2-11): $12
Children under age 2: free

Online ticket purchases will be available here at a later date. Please check back.

Make it an outing with advance group admission rates
(Group rates apply only for groups of 20 or more that have made advance arrangements through the Group Sales department at 419.385.5721, extension 6001.)
Adults (age 12-59): $13
Seniors (age 60+): $10
Children (age 2-11): $10
Children under age 2: free

Special Admission

Active or retired military members receive free admission, and members of their group of 20 or less receive $1 off each ticket when accompanied by the military member. Discount also applies for military dependents with proof of military ID if the military member is absent during the visit. Military discounts must be purchased at the gate and can’t be combined with other discounts.

Toledo Zoo members
Members receive unlimited Monday through Thursday Lights Before Christmas visits with a valid Toledo Zoo membership card.  Be sure to bring your membership card with you when you visit – the free admission is valid only for those persons covered under your membership category and both named members are required to show a second form of identification.  Please note that you cannot substitute a friend or relative for a named cardholder if they are not able to attend.

As a member, you also receive one free weekend visit (Friday through Sunday). When you visit Friday through Sunday, all family members should attend together. If your child uses your membership card to visit on a weekend, for example, this will count as your family’s one free weekend visit, and the rest of your family will be charged if you visit again Friday through Sunday. One of the named cardholders must be present whenever guest privileges are used. If you are Family Plus level or above and bring guests, your guests privileges will be marked and documented accordingly; unlimited free admission is not valid for guests. Reciprocal memberships are not valid for Lights Before Christmas admission.

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.

Click here for detailed driving directions and maps

Animals at the Lights

The main focus of the Lights is on the “electrical spectacle” Zoo-wide. But winter is also a great time to see cool-climate animals like polar bears, seals, wolves, Amur tigers and snow leopards. Many other animals, like elephants, giraffes, naked mole rats, frogs, snakes and our huge saltwater crocodile, Baru, have indoor viewing. Some animals do come off exhibit in the evenings, though, so if your goal is to see many animals and a million-plus Lights, we recommend that you arrive earlier in the day (well before 3pm) and then stay for the Lights. Your one admission covers both the Zoo and the Lights.

See the fun for yourself!

Watch the YouTube video below to see why the Lights Before Christmas is such a great holiday tradition:

Fun facts about the Lights Before Christmas

• The electrical spectacle known as the Dancing Lights and the 85-foot Norway Spruce are decorated with all wide-angle LED lights.
•The 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 2012, with 179,267 visitors.
• The Toledo Zoo began using energy-efficient LED lights in 2002. Today, over half our lights are LEDs.
• A core crew of 12-15 employees from the Zoo’s Horticulture Department starts hanging lights in early August.
• There are two techniques are used to hang lights: draping and wrapping. If all the lights were strung end-to-end, they would reach nearly 70 miles.
• Nearly 50,000 feet of extension cords are used—that’s almost 10 miles!
• The Zoo makes more than 2,700 pounds of fudge during the Lights, along with about 6,800 gallons of hot chocolate, more than 7,400 cinnamon pretzels, and the bakery decorated over 8,900 cookies.
• After the Lights Before Christmas, it takes about 2 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’ in diameter.
- The trunk circumference is 8 feet 7 inches and it is estimated to weigh 7 tons—about as much as the combined weight of Renee and Louie, two of our African elephants.
- More than 35,000 energy-efficient LED lights cover the Big Tree (almost 3 miles of lights).
- It takes a crew approximately one week to decorate the entire tree.

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