PNC Festival of Lights returns to Cincinnati Zoo

PNC Festival of Lights returns to Cincinnati Zoo
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 12:56 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The holiday light display voted the nation’s best returns to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens this weekend.

Named best display for five years in a row by USA Today, the 41st annual PNC Festival of Lights opens this Friday, Nov. 17, and features new attractions.

Around 5 p.m. after the animals head inside, the outdoor area of the Zoo becomes illuminated with four million LED lights for all to enjoy.

“PNC Festival of Lights has brought joy to people in the Tri-State area for four decades,” said Joelle Gilbert, Cincinnati Zoo’s Special Events Manager. " People come back year after year to see the lights and spend a festive evening, or two or three, with family and friends.”

According to the Zoo’s officials, there’s more to see and do this year. Visitors can engage with the Wild Lights show on Swan Lake through the CUE Live app, which will sync their phone’s flashlight to the music.

There’s also an “Elfie Selfie” station and 20 new large animal lanterns throughout the Zoo for even more festive photo opportunities.

Visitors will be able to navigate through the Zoo’s light tunnels and holiday backdrops using an interactive map app.

You can still count on the festival’s classic activities like the Madcap Puppet Show and visiting Santa in Santa’s Village. The North Polar Express Train, which begins running at 2:30 p.m. daily, is another highlight, and this year, the Zoo’s spokespeople say its light tunnel is “longer than ever.”

And as always, there’s holiday-themed food and drinks for sale. For fans of Fiona and Fritz, there’s even a hippo-themed hot drink.

Entry into the Festival of Lights is included with admission to the Zoo. Daily activities begin at 4 p.m.

Patrons can visit Santa through Dec. 23.

The Festival of Lights opens Friday, Nov. 17, and runs through Jan. 7. For more information, visit

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