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A holiday tradition that everyone enjoys!
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Lights Before Christmas admission rates:
Lights Before Christmas admission
*Rates apply at 3pm each day during the Lights. Lucas County discounts do not apply for admission to special events, including Lights Before Christmas
Adults (age 12-59): $13
Seniors (age 60+): $10
Children (age 2-11): $10
Children under age 2: free
Save $1 per ticket when you purchase your Lights Before Christmas tickets online.
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): $11
Seniors (age 60+): $8
Children (age 2-11): $8
Children under age 2: free
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
This year, members get 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.
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.
Lights Before Christmas hours:
November 15 - December 31
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Sunday - Thursday: 3-8pm (Zoo closes at 9pm)
Friday and Saturday: 3-9pm (Zoo closes at 10pm)
What’s new at Lights Before Christmas in 2013?
The Toledo Zoo wants to make your 2013 vist special so we have some great new attractions and fun things to check out while you’re here.
Glide into the holidays on our new ice rink
The ice rink opens at 3pm each day during Lights Before Christmas and operates throughout the evening. What a great way to have fun with your family or enjoy a cool romantic night on the ice! Skate rental fee is $3 per person, or you can bring your own skates at no charge. Get more information
Festive Feast at the Holiday Lodge
Check out this brand new holiday experience at the Zoo! Enjoy a bountiful feast complete with a delicious dessert, seasonal entertainment, Zoo animal encounter and your choice of Santa photo or snow globe photo. Click here for more details
Santa Paws Workshop
Do you have a special dog or a cat at home? Treat them to holiday joy by making your very own treat for them. Visit the Workshop in Nature’s Neighborhood during your visit to Lights Before Christmas. Santa Paws Workshop is open on Monday and Wednesday evenings, between 5pm and 8:30pm from November 18 to December 30.
Choose your present package
• Regular present $5.99 + tax:
a decorated paper bag with pet enrichment, a pet-friendly cookie, extra yummy treats, and a cookie cutter with recipe.
• Premium present $12.99 + tax:
a decorated tote bag with pet enrichment, pet-friendly cookies, extra yummy treats, 2 cookie cutters with recipe, a pet toy, and a personalized ornament.
Add some artistic coolness to your Lights visit with an ice-carving demonstration. Come to the ice rink area and watch these masterpieces take form right before your eyes every Thursday evening in December, starting at 6pm.
Lights Before Christmas Video
See the fun for yourself! Watch the YouTube video below to see why the Lights Before Christmas is such a great holiday tradition:
Your favorite rides are part of the fun!
Safari Railway in Africa!: $1.25 per rider
African Animal Carousel in Africa!: $2 per rider
Historic carousel: $1 per rider
Add to the fun (and your savings) with winter ride passes! Ride passes allow you to ride the attraction of your choice, including the Zoo’s train in Africa! and either of the Zoo’s carousels or use it towards a skate rental. Operation of all rides is contingent on weather conditions. Ride passes will be available for purchase at the Safari Railway window and The African carousel window.
• Five-ride pass: $8
• Ten-ride pass: $15
• One punch on your pass per ride for each carousel and the train, two punches if you use it for skate rental
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
A holiday tradition for your whole family
From the Dancing Lights display near Cheetah Valley and strolling carolers on selected evenings, we know how to make your visit sparkle. And of course don’t forget visits with Santa (‘til he leaves for the North Pole on Dec. 24).* Our award-winning Nature’s Neighborhood is open, too, and buzzing with activity (come in and play!).
Holiday photo packages
Take some of the magic home by getting your photo with Santa, or a fun a group shot inside of our giant snow globe. Get your photos taken at both and receive a $2 discount (see details below)
Santa photos are available in the Great Hall of the Museum of Science. Come see Santa at the brand new North Pole Toy FacTOYry!
Snow Globe photos are available near the African Lodge.
Santa and the Snow Globe are open for photos starting at 3pm each day.
Package 1—one 5” x 7”: $10
Package 2—two 3.5” x 5”: $10
Package 3—two 5” x 7”: $18
Package 4— one 5” x 7” plus four wallets: $18
* Prices do not include sales tax
If you want a snow globe photo and a Santa photo, be sure to get a proof-of-purchase from your first photo session and bring it to your second photo session to receive $2 off your second set of photos.
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, latte and more to wash it down, too, along with more substantial meals in Carnivore Cafe near Cheetah Valley and at Karoo Snacks in our Africa! exhibit.
We know it’s hard to last ‘til the weekend; that’s why we brought some weekend to you a day early. Celebrate cool artistic talents with ice-carving demonstrations on Thursday evenings, starting in December and running through the end of the month. Local radio stations broadcast their remotes on Thursdays, too. And our sponsor, KeyBank, gives away 3-D glasses in our Main Plaza, which makes the lights even more magical.
Treat your company or organization
The 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
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 (even hippos!) 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 to pick a gift for Zoo animals. Click here to learn more
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.
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 Grounds Department starts hanging lights in late August or early September.
• 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 6,000 cinnamon pretzels, and 3,800+ gingerbread men.
• 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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