Lincoln Park Zoo ZooLights – Your Complete Guide

Enjoy Lincoln Park Zoo ZooLights, a free family tradition that brings out the kid in all of us.

ZooLights Chicago at Lincoln Park Zoo is a favorite holiday tradition. The free Lincoln Park Zoo is open every day of the year, and it’s particularly fun during the holiday season. 

Throughout the month of December, this favorite destination lights up both literally and figuratively with ZooLights.

Lincoln Park Zoo Zoolights Chicago
photo courtesy Choose Chicago

What is ZooLights?

Lincoln Park ZooLights is an annual family-friendly festival and tickets are $5 a person (no matter what age). The zoo is lit up with over two million lights and every tree in the park is draped with strands.

There are also free nights on Mondays and Tuesdays. Tickets are required and will be available mid-October.

Light sculpture at Lincoln Park's ZooLights in Chicago, Illinois
Photo courtesy Choose Chicago

TLTip: If you take the kids to see Santa Claus he’ll be in the Kovler Lion House. If your children misbehave you can threaten them with more than just coal…

When is ZooLights?

Lincoln Park Zoo ZooLight 2021 runs 4 to 10 p.m. on Nov. 19-24, 26-30, Dec. 1, 3-15, 17-23, 26-31, and Jan. 1-2.

During the rest of the year, the zoo closes at 5 p.m., but during ZooLights it is open until 10 p.m.

Lincoln Park ZooLights

Can You See the Animals at ZooLights?

Most of the outside yards are empty during ZooLights, but all of the exhibit houses are open. Not only can you go inside to warm up, but you can also marvel at giraffes, penguins, gorillas, lions, and any of the other myriad animals that call the zoo home.

Related: Your Chicago Guide to Lincoln Park Zoo

Is There Ice Skating at ZooLights?

No. But here are other places to go ice skating in Chicago!

Lincoln Park Zoo Zoolights Chicago
Photo courtesy Choose Chicago

When Are the Special Events at ZooLights?

There are several special events at ZooLights. Most of these require tickets, which means you can only enter if you’ve purchased one.

Lights display at Lincoln Park Zoo Zoolights Chicago
Photo courtesy Choose Chicago

2021 Dates

ZooLights runs from 4 to 10 p.m. on Nov. 19-24, 26-30, Dec. 1, 3-15, 17-23, 26-31, and Jan. 1-2.

  • Members-Only Night at ZooLights: November 19 & December 13
  • ZooLights Free Nights: Nov. 22, 23, 29, and 30 and Dec. 6, 7, 14, 20, 21, 27, and 28
  • Sensory-friendly Hours: Nov. 29 and Dec. 15 from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • Adults Night Out: Holidaze: December 16, 6:30–10 p.m.; $20
  • BrewLights Presented By Louis Glunz Beer, Inc: Thursday, December 2
  • Chris White Trio Tribute to “A Charlie Brown Christmas”: December 12; $35 includes complimentary beverage
  • Zoo Year’s Eve at ZooLights: Tuesday, December 31, 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Tickets start at $10

How Much do the Experiences Cost?

Light Maze Presented by Invesco QQQ: $3 ticket per guest

Enchanted Forest: $3 ticket per guest

How Do You Get to ZooLights?

Lincoln Park Zoo is located between North Avenue and Fullerton Avenue and between Cannon Drive and Lake Shore Drive. With its location off of Lake Shore Drive the zoo is accessible by car.

There’s free street parking, but that’s limited and fills up quickly. You can also use the lot at the zoo itself or the Lincoln Park garage located at North and Clark.

Find discounted parking near Lincoln Park Zoo with Spothero:

Public transportation is easily available and you can plan your visit with Google maps. Burn some calories by using the Divvy bike-sharing system, or make somebody else drive and take a taxi or a ride-share service.

Click here for more favorite Chicago Christmas traditions!

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