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Christmas and Winter Wild Lights at the Columbus Zoo - Bigger Every Year
Wonderful Winter Nights
As of November 2012, the Wild Lights festival at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium was officially 24 years old. It is increasing in size, number of lights, and variety of entertainment and attractions each year, all of which are well staffed and maintained. The electricity is used for LED lights and donated without cost by the City of Columbus, AEP Power, and other sponsors, as it is for the City Hall winter holiday lights.
Since 1988, this Christmas and Winter Holiday event has taken families through Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year's and other favorite cultural holidays of all sorts. Animals and staff from around the world welcome International visitors with millions of lights that do not cost our taxpayers an extra cent.
Many American and International zoos also hold Wild Lights festival, so such an event may be occurring soon in your area. If so, I hope you enjoy it! If not, and you are in our area, come to ours.
The Columbus Zoo is not on a regular daily bus route, but special seasonal service is delegated to this spot north of the city in the upscale suburb of Powell, Ohio. COTA Bus service is provided several times daily in the summer months for seasonal workers, high school and college interns, and visitors; and also during Wild Lights. The buses are decorated for Christmas. Many people use the COTA buses that would otherise not be able to visit the zoo or the light festival and they are thankful to COTA and the City of Columbus for this public service.
If you drive to the Columbus Zoo, you will find ample parking in well maintained, well lighted parking lots at $5.00 per car. Buses are admitted free of charge.
November 2011 through to January 01, 2012 and Mid-November - New Year's Day every year
- Sundays - Thursday 5 - 9 PM
- Friday - Saturday 5 - 10 PM
- Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day
Wild Lights is a safe and entertaining place to spend a portion of New Year's Eve.
Regular admission rates are charged, but admission is FREE to Members of the Columbus Zoo. If you are a Member of a reciprocal zoo or museum, you will probably be admitted free to Wild Lights. Call ahead to make sure, at the link at the top of the page.
Entrance fees are about half price for children 2-9 years old and Seniors 60 and older, with Senior's half-price day at even lower rates on Tuesdays. Kids under 2 years old are free, so this is a happy way to take the little ones to the winter holidays light festival at the zoo..
I have visited the Wild Lights festival several times and accompanied friends and taken school groups and clubs to the event. We have always enjoyed the family-oriented activities of music, light shows, and crafts for the kids, as well as visiting animals in their well maintained enclosures for winter or natural habitats for cold-weather animals. Santa's wife, Mrs. Claus has always set up a kitchen with tables at which children may decorate their own cookie to take home. They love it. Folks can have their picture taken with Santa or his reindeer as well.
Holiday Encounters Village
An entire village opens up at the zoo from November through New Year's Day. This village includes a perfomance stage for family and child-related musical and comedy acts; and offers a Reindeer Corral for you to meet Santa's sleigh-pullers. In addition to light shows, animal performances are also entertaining throughout most evenings.
Envrionmental concerns are presented in an interesting "green" house open for touring, and visitors can board a holiday train for a ride. This year, Disney On Ice is at the zoo to present some special performances for winter holidays at no extra charge, with a choir sining background as a living evergreen tree display.
Displays for Christmas and other holidays and special events occur in all of the zoo's habitats and the famous restored 1914 Mangels-Illions Carousel will be open for rides. It the same one I rode as a child, with the horses so tall I could not climb on by myself.
One thing I particularly like is that the gorillas and bonobos are on display only until 5 PM during festival evenings, so they can get a good night's sleep, as they always do. Near their zoo home is a gift tree full of suggestions for gifts the animals of the zoo would like to have, if you are inclined to help.
Gift Suggestions for the Animals
- Columbus Zoo and Aquarium - JACK HANNAS HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS featuring Santa Paws
Santa PAWS and the Giving Tree full of gift suggestions for the animals. You may have some thrifty places to purchase these items inexpensively.