The ZooLights festival at the Oregon Zoo is a fantastic holiday tradition. Perfect for families with kids of all ages, grandparents, or even for date night!
It's the most wonderful time of the year: ZooLights time at the Oregon Zoo!
ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo
One tradition that we look forward to each year is the Oregon Zoo's ZooLights festival. More than a million and a half lights dazzle and delight visitors throughout the entire zoo, illuminating pathways and exhibits. It's truly a magical experience, and my kids and I have such warm memories of attending throughout the years!
ZooLights runs now through January 1, 2017; the zoo is closed December 24 and 25.
ZooLights Hours: Sunday through Thursday 5 – 8 pm and Friday & Saturday 5 – 9 pm. ZooLights tickets are valid for zoo admission after 4 p.m. Guests may stay on-grounds for one hour after the gates close.
ZooLights Value Nights: Visit the Oregon Zoo for ZooLights Monday through Thursday between now and December 15th, and you'll receive discounted admission rates. ZooLights is free for Oregon Zoo members; be sure to check the website for the full list of rates.
ZooLight Tips: It's always a few degrees colder and a little windier at the Oregon Zoo since it's higher up in elevation, so be sure to dress warmly: thick winter coats, winter hats, gloves, warm socks. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Bring your camera. See transportation tips below!
In addition to the cool light displays, the OregonZoo train runs throughout the park during ZooLights. The train itself is decked out with lights, and the ride is a fun and magical way to see the zoo all lit up.
Trains begin running at 5 pm, and they run continuously throughout the night as needed. You are encouraged to walk through ZooLights before riding the train, since train lines are often busiest at the beginning of the evening.
Many of the regular zoo exhibits are open during Zoo Lights. However, keep in mind that most animals will be sleeping or eating, and may not come out from the shadows for you and the kids to see them. The Elephant Lands area is a good bet if you have kids who HAVE to see animals before they leave. The elephants will most likely still be roaming a bit outside, if they're not busy eating inside as they were during our visit this year.
Parking & Public Transportation
There is metered parking in the zoo parking lot, but the lot fills up early - and quickly. Once the lot is full, you will be directed to park in the zoo's overflow parking and take the zoo shuttle. Shuttles run continuously, but be prepared to wait for a while before one returns.
Your best bet, especially as we get closer to Christmas, is to take the MAX in directly to the Oregon Zoo. You can receive a discounted admission if you show your MAX fare ticket at the gate.