courtesy of the Smithsonian National Zoo
The National Zoo’s free and family-friendly ZooLights Celebration takes place nightly through January 1.
The National Zoo’s ZooLights Celebration is a great opportunity to enjoy a unique Christmas light display. Thousands of lights within the park are sculpted in the shape of a variety of the zoo’s animals -- a Komodo Dragon, a sea lion, an octopus, giant pandas, an Asian elephant and more!
Other holiday-themed activities will include musical performances, snowless tubing (featuring a 150-foot plunge!), animal exhibits, and a laser light show. The zoo’s Choo-Choo will take visitors on a trackless train tour of the Great Cats exhibit and the park’s light displays, while the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel will highlight the zoo’s research and success.
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The Mobile Art Gallery, put on by the CulturalDC’s Space 4 Arts initiative, will feature cutting-edge artwork by local artists every night of the celebration.
Also taking place during the month-long event will be the GRUMP Holiday Market from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., December 15–17. The Holiday Market will be a European-style outdoor market featuring local artisans who will be selling items such as jewelry, handmade clothes, home accessories, glass art, and books.
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Nightly musical entertainment will feature a wide range of local talent -- from Island Creek Elementary’s Chorus to the American University Jazz combo -- to keep everyone in the holiday spirit. Plus, the zoo will be serving coffee, eggnog, hot chocolate, holiday cookies, roasted nuts, and other holiday treats. Adult guests can enjoy wine and beer (as well as the zoo’s own specialty spiked hot chocolate!).
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Other than food and drink, the only cost associated with ZooLights is parking, which runs $22, or $11 for Friends of the National Zoo. However, this fee can be avoided by using Metro or street parking. The zoo is accessible by the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Metro stations, with Big Bus Tours providing a free shuttle from the Woodley Park station.
Though the park will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve, the National Zoo will be open every other night for ZooLights, rain or shine. For more information, visit the National Zoo’s Zoolights event page.