Christmas at the Zoo presented by Donatos and Teachers Credit Union

Thanks for another magical year! Look for 2016 details coming soon.

Surround yourself with the magic and beauty of the holiday season as the Indianapolis Zoo hosts annual holiday tradition, Christmas at the Zoo presented by Donatos and Teachers Cre​dit Union, with an extra weekend of fun added this year! The Zoo is open from noon to 9pm Wednesday to Sunday​, with event activities starting at 5pm. Come out early to grab a great parking spot, see some animals and watch as the lights come on to transform the Zoo into a winter ​wonderland.

This just in! In 2015, Christmas at the Zoo ranked in the Top 5 in the nation for zoo light displays by USA Today's 10 Best.

Dating back to 1967, the Indianapolis Zoo was the first zoo in the United States to hold a holiday lights event, and since then, Christmas at the Zoo has become a favorite for many guests. At every twist and turn you're sure to enjoy the sparkling twinkle of 100 percent LED light displays that will adorn Zoo grounds, making Christmas at the Zoo a great place to create holiday memories!

A visit to Christmas at the Zoo is unlike any other time of the year as we bring together the best of the holiday season with a "wild" twist! As the sun sets over the White River State Park, enjoy the warm glow of twinkling lights, creating a magical nighttime experience. You'll find yourself eager to celebrate everything the holidays should be … plus animals! Several of the Zoo's hardiest will stay up late to enjoy the cooler nights, including seals and sea lions, polar bear, walrus, tigers, red panda, brown bears and more! You and your loved ones can sip on hot beverages as you stroll around to see the lights, or enjoy delicious seasonal treats while you sit by our two campfire locations. Plus see all of the animals in our indoor exhibits, including the Deserts Dome, Dolphin Dome, Oceans and the new Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. 

​Stop By to See Santa in White River Gardens

  • Santa's Workshop presented by Chick-fil-A features free visits with Santa through Dec. 23 (great photo packages available*).

  • Decorate cookies* with help from Mrs. Claus in Mrs. Claus' Kitchen.

  • Write letters to Santa and thank-you letters after Christmas.

  • Enjoy Santa's Tropical Paradise and a scavenger hunt inside the Hilbert Conservatory.

Holiday Lights

Carolers (before Christmas)

  • Traditional carolers singing around the back campfire from 6-8pm. TIP: Come ready to request your favorite holiday songs!

  • Performances by local school choirs (at Café on the Commons). 

Find the Mistletoe

  • ​​Be on the lookout for up to 10 mistletoes and register inside the Gift Shop to win one of two Animal Art Adventures.

  • TIP: Find at least five mistletoes to enter.

Delicious Christmas Treats

  • Santa's Sweet Shop near Encounters offers gourmet goodies

  • Santa's First Stop on the main path near the Entry Plaza

  • Mrs. Claus' Kitchen in White River Gardens

  • Zoo fare served at Café on the Commons

  • TIP: On a chilly night, a "Cup of Cheer" can be worth its weight in gold. Get free refills on hot beverages all night long at any food service location!​

Memorable Holiday Photo Ops*

  • Front Gate as you enter

  • Santa photos in White River Gardens

  • Sleigh in Oceans

  • TIP: Think you're too old for a photo with Santa? The sleigh in Oceans is a great photo op for adults and groups!


  • Carousel 

  • White River Junction Train

  • 4-D Theater presented by YP featuring The Polar Express 4-D Experience

  • TIP: Coming back next year? Ticket packages are valid for a full year, so you can use a few now and save a few for later!

Great Gifts* that Support the Zoo

Christmas at the Zoo admission:

  • Christmas at the Zoo is included with regular admission and free for Zoo members!

  • Discounted tickets are available at participating Donatos and Teachers Credit Union locations.

  • Save on admission by purchasing advance tickets online.

  • Receive $1 off admission for up to four people when you bring a new hat, scarf or glove donation for the Mitten Donation Tree that supports our local St. Mary's Child Center.

*Requires additional charge. ​​