Home News Columbus Zoo Wildlights Offers Free Admission this Weekend With Food Donation

Columbus Zoo Wildlights Offers Free Admission this Weekend With Food Donation


It’s beginning to look a lot like Wildlights season at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium! One of Central Ohio’s most cherished holiday traditions, Wildlights, efficiently powered by AEP Ohio, will run from Nov. 17, 2017 through Jan. 1, 2018.

This Friday, November 15 is Stuff a Truck Food Drive – Bring 5 cans of food per guest for free admission and parking. They will be collecting cans as early as 10 am, so you can arrive early and stay all day to enjoy Wildlights.

This year marks the 29th Wildlights season with more holiday cheer than ever before. The entire Zoo will be transformed into a winter wonderland covered in millions of LED lights. Some of this year’s main Wildlights attractions include:

  • Animated light shows, located around Conservation Lake and at Shores Park.
  • Holiday Star Light Star Bright Seek-n-Find, brought to you by Disney On Ice presents Reach for the Stars, with new winners and magical prizes each week.
  • Santa’s Holiday Home in its new location in North America at the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost! Guests can spend time with Santa and can also enjoy holiday sweets with Mrs. Claus at her kitchen in Conservation Courtyard. Please note that the Claus family will not be available after Dec. 23 due to other obligations.
  • Wildlights rides, including the Polar Bear Express, a train ride through the North America winter wonderland; camel rides located in the North America region; and the 1914 Mangels-Illions Carousel, a historic Central Ohio treasure located near the Columbus Dispatch Charities Grand Pavilion. Additional fees may apply.
  • Meet and Greets with Rudolph and Friends. Be sure to bring your camera as the most favorite reindeer of all, Rudolph, and the lovable abominable snow monster, Bumble, join us at Wildlights this year to create even more magical memories. You can also catch Rudolph and his friends on the big screen at the Shores Play Park 4-D Theater in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D Theater Experience.
  • The Sparkling Spruce, and its captivating light and sound show “Candela: The Evolution of Light” located in Polar Frontier.
  • And, of course, amazing animals! Many animals will be visible from the comfort of heated, indoor shelters, including Manatee Coast, Discovery Reef, the reptile building, the habitats at Vanishing Giants, the Naomi Coyle Dempsey Quest for Enlightenment Interpretive Center in Asia Quest and the nocturnal building in the Australia and the Islands region. Others – including Santa’s favorite, the reindeer – will be outside during the festivities. Please note that the polar bear habitat, lion habitat and Congo Expedition (home of the gorillas and bonobos) will close at 4 p.m.

Other holiday traditions happening concurrently with Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo include:

  • Wildlights Member Preview, presented by The Goddard School. Columbus Zoo Members can be the first to experience all the new attractions at this year’s Wildlights during this special preview night on Nov. 16 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.
  • Stuff the Truck Food Drive with Kroger and the Zoo benefitting the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Wildlights while giving back to our community. Each guest who donates five non-perishable food items at the Zoo on Friday, Nov. 17 may enjoy one complimentary ticket to Wildlights to be used that evening. Guests who show one of their donated items at the parking booth will also receive free parking.
  • Jack Hanna’s Home for the Holidays featuring Santa Paws, when guests can share holiday cheer and the spirit of giving with the animals of the Zoo! Visitors who donate an item from the Zoo’s wish list on the Zoo website event page will receive free admission on Saturday, Dec. 9. Santa Paws will also make a special visit to the animals of the Zoo on this day to give them special presents as animal enrichment! Later that evening, Jack Hanna returns home for the holidays and presents three LIVE shows with his animal friends.
  • Zoo with Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Nationwide Arena. Enjoy the festive, familiar sounds of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Saturday, Dec. 30 and a portion of every ticket sold will benefit the Columbus Zoo’s conservation efforts.

The Zoo opens daily at 10 a.m. with Wildlights activities operating Sundays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Zoo will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23) and Christmas Day (Dec. 25), as well as for Wildlights on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24). Wildlights is included with Zoo admission. Regular admission rates apply to all guests, and admission is free for Columbus Zoo and Aquarium members. For more information, please visit the Zoo’s event calendar.