Each year, the holidays descend on the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium during Wildlights. Millions of twinkling LED lights dust the trees throughout the zoo making for a stunning winter wonderland for the whole family. 

Want to make the most out of your trip? Here’s what you need to know about Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo.

Before you go, please review the safety guidelines and precautions set but the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, here. Please note: Starting Monday, November 16, to enter the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, if you are medically able and 10 years old and older, you are required to have a mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin for the duration of your visit while inside on Zoo grounds.

Father holiding daughter looking at the light display at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

When to Visit

Wildlights run from November 20 – January 3. Their hours are Sunday - Thursday, 5 - 9 p.m., and Friday - Saturday, 5 - 10 p.m. (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Christmas Eve).

Pro Tip: Get free admission when you bring 5 canned goods for the “Stuff the Truck” event on December 8.

Note: Timed tickets are needed for Wildlights. Please make your reservation at columbuszoo.org before your visit. 

Things to See

The Sparkling Spruce - There’s no better way to be greeted than by a giant Christmas Tree for the holidays. Snap a picture in front of the famous Sparkling Spruce located just inside the gates and stick around for its special lights show.

Wildlights Sparkling Spruce

Meet & Greets - The kiddos will love a Meet and Greet with characters like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Herme the Elf, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snowman. Don’t forget your camera for the perfect selfie! Also, stop by the 4-D theatre just outside the aquarium for a showing of The Polar Express. 

Santa Experience -  This all-new experience allows guests to talk with Santa socially distanced while capturing a photo of themselves looking out a window at Santa and his sleigh and reindeer. There is no cost to see Santa but reservations are encouraged. 

Polar Frontier Exhibit - Watch in awe as the polar bears dive into the pool for goodies right before your eyes at the Polar Frontier exhibit. Get the full effect by walking through the tunnel to the underground viewing space and witness them swimming from below.

Pro Tip: Take the train to Polar Frontier to start your visit and work your way back to the front.

Three young children standing at the glass watching two big polar bears swin

Animated Lights Show - Ready your dance moves! The Animated Lights Shows surrounding the pond near the entrance features your favorite holiday tunes. Don’t worry if you miss it coming in – shows begin every 30 minutes.

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo

Carousel - It’s the merriest time of year to hop on the Merry-Go-Round. Located just past the Aquarium, your little ones can hop on the Carousel for a spinning good time. 48” or taller can ride without a parent which means more hot cocoa for you! Other Wildlights rides include the Polar Bear Express train ride and camel rides. 

NEW: S'mores Experience - Gather around a fire and roast your own marshmallow to create your own holiday treat. Advanced purchase is recommended as space is limited. 


The Columbus Zoo is located in Powell, just north of Dublin. If you are coming from out of town, click here for our suggestions on places to stay. Don’t forget $10 for parking!

Grab the family and get in the spirit of the season at Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium. Share your memories with us using #SoDublin

Find a map of the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium here.

Find more holiday happenings in Dublin here.