ZooLights at Smithsonian’s National Zoo features a twinkling half-million environmentally friendly LED lights — and dazzling new attractions — FREE every night* through Jan. 1, 2020, from 5 to 9 p.m.
Now don’t expect to see a wildlife safari, unless it’s the dozens of large panda, monkey, zebra, and elephant lanterns — all lit from within — that are new this year. This event is all about fantastical illuminations and all ages amusement, but the live animals get a night off.
Instead, delight in this year’s dreamy new field-of-lights art installation, Entre Les Rangs. And enjoy live music or dance performances in the Great Meadow beneath a light canopy that responds to sound.
Bei Bei might have had to leave for China, but guests can still get their virtual reality panda fix through with “Pandamonium: A Virtual Experience” (ticketed) at the National Zoo Theater. Or hop on board the Zoo Choo-Choo for a journey around the Kids’ Farm, Lion-Tiger Hill, to over to ride the ZooTubes.
There are always special winter treats: holiday cookies, funnel cakes, crepes and other sweets, coffee, hot spiced cider, mulled wine, hot chocolate, and a selection of seasonal spirits.
*ZooLights will not be held Dec. 24, 25 and 31. Admission to ZooLights is free. A flat-rate parking fee of $25 will apply. Proceeds from ZooLights concessions and parking will benefit animal care and conservation science at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.