The zoo’s lighted truck will visit D.C. neighborhoods weekend nights through December 17.

The National Zoo may be closed but its annual holiday light show must go on. Last week, the Smithsonian announced the closures of all of its museums in the D.C. area through January, including the National Zoo. Lucky for the residents of the District and beyond, zoo officials already had a plan in place for the popular holiday Zoolights holiday lights display.

This year, the show is going on the road, visiting a different ward of the city each week through December 17. The Zoolights Express, presented by Pepco, has been reimagined to keep spreading the holiday spirit in a safe and socially distanced manner.

The Zoolights Express is a 24-foot decorated truck that features lively holiday music and a special mascot—Panda Claus. The truck will travel through each neighborhood from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights on the following dates:

  • Friday, Nov. 27, Ward 1
  • Saturday, Nov. 28, Ward 2
  • Friday, Dec. 4, Ward 3
  • Saturday, Dec. 5, Ward 4
  • Friday, Dec. 11, Ward 5
  • Saturday, Dec. 12, Ward 6
  • Friday, Dec. 18, Ward 7
  • Saturday, Dec. 19, Ward 8


Maps for each ward are available on the National Zoo website. The Zoolights Express may make several passes around the loop, so don’t worry if you miss it the first time. In its 13th year, Zoolights is an annual tradition at the National Zoo. Each year, people come to stroll through the holiday lights, enjoy musical performances, trackless train rides, and nosh on holiday sweets and treats. 

The pandemic has forced the cancellation and modification of many holiday traditions on the National Mall. For the first time since 1999, the ice rink at the National Gallery of Art will not host the ice skating rink and the United States Botanic Garden will be hosting its annual concerts online