Holiday Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo – Ohio

Festival of Lights Classic CincinnatiWe have never been to Cincinnati but look forward to visiting one day. One event I would really like to see when we do make it to Cincinnati is the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. My friend Tina in the Cincinnati area sent me this information and I thought it would be fun to share on my blog. I hope to be able to visit one day in the future. Sounds like a great time to visit.

Festival of Lights 1They state that they are the largest and longest-running holiday event in the tri-state, area and bring joy to all with twinkling lights, holiday cheer, and beautiful winter scenery. What makes this event amazing? It has to be the strolling entertainers, train and wagon rides, ice skating, light sculptures, and more than two million lights. Festival of Lights is also a wonderful opportunity to see cold weather animals like the polar bears or go indoors to visit our warm weather friends like the manatees.

Here are some of the highlights of this years wonderful event:


NEW Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake -Everyone loves a good synchronized light ‘n’ music show! Head over to Swan Lake to see a 21-foot-tall tree with thousands of lights dancing to the beat of holiday songs. It truly is a sight to be seen…and heard!

Festival of Lights Frozen

New Frozen Wonderland – A themed area where you can meet everyone’s favorite Royal Sisters.

4-D Special-FX Theater – Even adults will be enthralled with the 4-D Special-FX Theater that uses high-definition, 3-D projection with sensory effects like wind, mist, and scents to draw you into the story of a young boy on an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole during The Polar Express.

Festival of Lights SoildersGingerbread Village – Peer through the windows to find the mouse in each of the newly themed gingerbread houses.

S’mores-N-More Stations – Hot cocoa! Roasted nuts! Homemade fudge! One of the best parts about winter and the holidays is indulging in those comfort foods of childhood – all of which you can enjoy at the Zoo…at two locations! You can even purchase a s’more kit and roast marshmallows over an open fire. Yum, I’ll take s’more, please.

Toyland Express Train Ride – What better way to see all the lights and sights than aboard the North Polar Express Train? Sit back, relax and revel in the holiday spirit before the ride ends at Swan Lake.

Festival of Lights Train

Lions, Reindeer, and Polar Bears – Tis the season to visit all the cold climate animals like polar bears, red pandas, sea lions, and, of course, reindeer! But don’t worry, there are more than a dozen heated indoor exhibits to keep you warm.

Festival of Lights Reindeer

Plus, enjoy live performances of the Madcap Black-Light Puppet Show, ride the carousel, visit with Mrs. Claus, check out the Holiday Post Office, and try to find the 5 fairies in Fairyland.

Festival of Lights Scavenger Hunt

Festival of Lights Fairyland

Looking for another fun way to enjoy #PNCFestivalofLights? Test your knowledge during their new scavenger hunt. Make your way through the Zoo to solve these festive riddles and heat things up with a little friendly competition! Share your scavenger hunt pictures on social media using #cincyzoopic for a chance to be featured in future Zoo marketing material.

There are two things to take into consideration if you are planning on visiting the Cincinnati Festival of Lights.  First is that you can get half-price tickets (certain nights) for the Festival of Lights coupons at your local Skyline.

The second suggestion is to GO EARLY! The earlier you go in the evening the better. There will be fewer people, a better chance of getting some perfect Christmas photos, and better parking. This is a popular event which can sometimes make parking an issue.

I am disappointed that I won’t be able to attend this event this year. I think when we do plan to visit Cincinnati, we will definitely make it during the holidays to be able to experience this event.

Festival of LightsHave you been before? If so, please share pictures and stories of this event. Would love to see and hear about your trip. BTW, many of these pictures are from previous years’ events. Below is so visitor information, but please check out their website for the latest updates.

Festival of Lights 3

Festival of Lights Visitor Information


3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45220




  • Sunday – Thursday: 10am – 9pm
  • Friday – Saturday – 10am – 10pm
  • PNC Festival of Lights Activities begin at 4pm


General Admission:

  • Adults (Ages 13 – 61) $15.50-$21.50
  • Child (Ages 2 – 12) $9.50-$15.50
  • Senior (Ages 62+) $9.50-$15.50

Rides Package – Admission + Rides:

  • Adults (Ages 13 – 61) $22.50-$28.50
  • Child (Ages 2 – 12) $16.50-$22.50
  • Senior (Ages 62+) $16.50-$22.50


The current parking fee is $10.00 and can be purchased at the Zoo via the Ticketing window when you enter. Both cash and credit cards are accepted to pay for parking.


You can take Metro routes 1, 46, 38x, 78 or hop on a Red Bike.

The I-71 Martin Luther King interchange is now open. Use this from exit 3 off of I-71. Coming from I-75? Try exiting at Hopple Street.

Accessibility Amenities:

The Zoo has both strollers and wheelchairs for rent at the Welcome Center, located in Historic Vine Street Village, or at the Conservation Carousel in Safari Camp. There is a limited inventory provided on a first-come, first-served basis. No advance registrations are available for strollers or manual wheelchairs, however, there are a limited number of ECVs (Electric Convenience Vehicle) that can be reserved each day. They suggest arriving early to secure strollers and manual wheelchairs. For all rentals, a photo ID must be left with Zoo Staff at the rental location.

Below are a few other amenities:


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