Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Wildlights At The Columbus Zoo And Aquarium Returns For A Spectacular Season

This post is sponsored by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. But rest assured, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Once again, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has undergone a magical transformation.

Powered with millions of LED lights, this winter wonderland display is one of the most popular family traditions during the holiday season around Columbus. Wildlights, efficiently powered by AEP Ohio, officially opens for guests today, Friday, November 17, 2023. The whimsical display will be open through Sunday, January 7, 2024.

The Wildlights and I were born the same year, and at 35, we’ve both got some pretty cool stuff going on. But let’s focus on the Wildlights. This year, there’s even more holiday cheer to be found.

Sounds of the Season will feature choirs, bands, and musical groups from a variety of local schools and organizations on select nights throughout the season. The 12 Days of Wildlights train ride will be themed to the Zoo’s very own rendition of the iconic song, the 12 days of Christmas. (You can see the lyrics here.)

Photo by Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Of course, no visit to the Wildlights is complete without taking advantage of all of the incredible light displays, including the Sparkling Spruce, the Jingle Jam area, The Rudolph 4D experience, and more.

One of the must-visit area definitely includes the reindeer corral where you can stop in and see these furry fellas before they take off on their big journey around the world with Santa. And speaking of the man in charge…

The Santa Experience will offer families the chance to talk to Santa and then get a photo with him. There is no cost to come and chat with him, although photos do require additional purchases. You can schedule your visit in advance here.

Santa won’t be the only familiar face. Rudolph with his nose so bright will be joined by Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, and Yukon Cornelius for fan meet-and-greets. Guests can adventure into Bumble’s cave to meet the beloved characters of the Christmas classic TV special.

If you want to see the largest variety of animals, you’ll want to arrive at the zoo before it starts to get dark. Some animals may still be outside, depending on the weather, but you’ll also be able to see several species in their indoor enclosures.

Guests aged 21 and older have the opportunity to sample dozens of craft beers, ciders, and seltzers from various sampling locations throughout the park! Both full-size and tasting-size portions are available for purchase.

Jolliest Holiday craft beer tasting locations will be scattered throughout the Zoo and open Thursday through Sunday evenings starting at 5:00 p.m.

Photo by Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Very large crowds are expected for Wildlights, so it’s always a good idea to arrive at the zoo a little early. Regular Zoo hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Wildlights activities take place Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

If you’d like to avoid the crowds all together, the Zoo does offer one option that might just be perfect. You can book a private, 2-hour tour of the Wildlights. Available for groups of of 4, 6, or 10, you and your group will depart on a cart tour around the zoo, stopping by various animal enclosures and sipping complimentary hot chocolate along the way.

The Zoo will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (November 24) and Christmas Day (December 25), as well as for Wildlights on Christmas Eve (December 24).
Wildlights are included with Zoo admission. Regular admission rates apply to all guests, and admission is free for Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Members.
For additional updates about the Columbus Zoo, visit