Christmas at the Zoo

Nov 23 - Dec 30

Christmas at the Zoo

5 - 9 PM

Open until 10pm Friday-Saturday
Closed Christmas Eve & Day

Presented by Donatos and Teachers Credit Union
Buy Tickets

Experience our beloved holiday tradition!

Dating back to 1967, the Indianapolis Zoo was the first zoo in the nation to hold a holiday lights event. Year after year, Christmas at the Zoo presented by Donatos and Teachers Credit Union continues to grow. For our 51st year, we’re adding even more lights to fill the Zoo with a warm glow. And the best part is it’s all included with regular admission!

Under the Bicentennial Pavilion, Santa’s Village is one of our newest additions. Here, you’ll discover:

  • Santa’s Study: Get your free timed ticket for a visit with Santa through Dec. 23, 5pm-close, with photo packages available for purchase. Please be in line by 9pm to visit Santa. As Christmas draws closer, Santa will also visit with families from 12:30-4pm Dec. 13-23 in the White River Gardens rotunda.
  • Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen presented by Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent: Free visits with Mrs. Claus through Dec. 23 and treat decorating available for purchase. 
  • Santa’s Barn presented by State Farm: See Santa’s sleigh and a few of his reindeer.
  • The Snowflakery presented by Honda Manufacturing: Wind through the mirror maze that is full of wintry twists and turns!
  • Tunnel of Lights: Have your camera ready to remember the moment you step inside the tunnel and are surrounded in glowing lights!
  • Penguin Encounter: Get up close to these winter-ready birds from 6-8pm (animal and weather dependent).
  • Mistletoe Kisses Gazebo: A picturesque place to find one of 10 hidden mistletoe. Look for more mistletoe hidden throughout the Zoo and submit your answers in the main gift shop to try to win an Animal Art Adventure.
  • Holiday Card Photo Opportunity: Larger than life holiday card for a larger than life family photo moment!
Weekend forecast: 100% chance of holiday fun!
Make the Most of Your Experience

Arrive before 5pm to find parking and visit with your favorite furry friends before the evening festivities begin. We have more parking with free shuttle service to our new South Lot off Harding Street. Plus, free timed tickets help you plan your visit with Santa in his study. Pick them up at the Front Gate or any ticket booth.

Holiday Lights Galore!
Enjoy a magical night at Christmas at the Zoo!

Christmas at the Zoo has been voted in the top five of USA Today’s 10 Best Zoo Lights for three years in a row! Plan your visit now and see why we are consistently ranked among the nation’s best.

A wintertime visit to the Zoo is unlike any other you’ll experience. Come out early to watch the Zoo transform at sunset, when the warm glow of twinkling lights fills the night sky. Pose with your family and friends near one of our featured displays, like Christmas Tree Joy presented by Honda Manufacturing along the main path and We Three Trees presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers located in Flights of Fancy.

Planning a couple’s night out? Come later — we’re open until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays — for a quiet, romantic stroll.

We’re proud to feature 100 percent LED energy-efficient lights and displays presented by Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital Ascension St. Vincent.

Discover More Holiday Wonders! 

  • Local choirs: The sounds of singing choirs add to the festive atmosphere. We feature different groups each night on the Holiday Harmony Stage, with lights that dance along with the voices!
  • Cup of Cheer: A hot beverage is a perfect way to stay warm on a chilly night. Purchase a reusable mug and enjoy free refills all night long. You can also chase the chill with a seasonal cocktail presented by Hotel Tango Distillery.
  • Holiday goodies: Make your night out even sweeter with delicious treats from Santa’s Sweet Shop or find Zoo fare at Café on the Commons.
  • Rides: Our White River Junction Train will whisk you away on a light-filled wintertime journey. Or enjoy a spin around our Carousel. Ticket packages are valid for a full year, so save on a few for now and a few for next year!
  • A gift for the animals: Inside the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center you can help create paper chains to provide enrichment for our animals throughout the holiday season.
  • Campfires: Warm up by one of our campfires or at the Hearth inside Santa’s Village.
Help Mother Earth This Holiday Season
Recycle Your Old Christmas Lights

If your holiday lights are no longer shining bright, don't throw them out! Drop them off in the donation bins at our Entry Plaza and we'll recycle them for you free of charge. Holiday light recycling is presented by Jay's Moving Co.

More Chances to Meet the Jolly Ol' Elf
Visit With Santa

Santa has decided to spend more time at the Zoo during Christmas at the Zoo — he always has so many kiddos to meet! Get your free timed ticket to visit with Santa in his study daily from Nov. 23-Dec. 23. As Christmas draws nearer, he will start his day a few hours early, and you can also see Santa in the White River Garden’s Rotunda right in front of the Christmas tree. Photo packages are available in both locations.

See Santa:

Nov. 23-Dec. 23

Daily from 5pm until the Zoo closes in Santa’s Study in the Bicentennial Pavilion

Dec. 13-23

Daily from 12:30-4pm in the White River Garden Rotunda

Zoo Animals

The wintertime animals add to the atmosphere of holiday magic!

Many of our more robust animals will be out late to enjoy the cooler weather, including tigers, red panda, brown bears, walrus, sea lions and more. These species are native to colder climates and can be more active in the winter than during the summer. Plus, special animal chats are a fun way to learn even more about our animals from the experts. Come earlier in the day and you may also see additional animals in Plains and Flights of Fancy.

If your cheeks start to get rosy, dash inside to enjoy the animals in Oceans, Deserts, St. Vincent Dolphin Pavilion and the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. The Hilbert Conservatory in White River Gardens will also be open from noon-5pm each day.

Plan Ahead and Save!

Christmas at the Zoo is free for members and included with Zoo admission. Purchase discount tickets at Donatos and Teachers Credit Union locations. Donate a new hat, scarf or gloves to the Mitten Tree for St. Mary’s Child Center and receive $1 off admission for up to four guests. Or save when you buy advance tickets online.

Buy Tickets
Give a gift that also supports our animal conservation mission
  • Our admission gift tickets make it easy to give your loved ones a day of Zoo fun, and they can choose when to visit.
  • A Zoo membership provides wild fun all year long! With options to fit any household, each membership includes free Zoo parking and admission, invitations to special events, discounts and more.
  • Special Experiences, like our Dolphin In-Water and Animal Art Adventures, offer up-close encounters with amazing animals and memories to last a lifetime.
  • With animal-themed gifts, apparel and much more, our gift shops have something for everyone on your list. Stop by one of our Zoo locations or shop online.
  • In our main gift shop, you’ll find a limited number of one-of-a-kind items painted by our animal artists! Sales support our Indianapolis chapter of American Association of Zookeepers.
  • Support the work of conservation heroes with the help of the Champions for Our Planet: Indianapolis Prize Guide to Animal Conservation Giving.
Volunteer for Christmas at the Zoo

If you love the Zoo, the holidays and giving back, we want to hear from you!

We need for volunteers ages 16 and older to help bring Christmas at the Zoo to life. Assignments include Campfire Hosts, Mirror Maze Attendant, Santa’s Study Assistant and Santa’s Village Greeter. Volunteer for at least three shifts and receive a free “Cup of Cheer” for complimentary hot beverage refills!

Help us Create the Magic

Contact our Volunteer Services team for more details.

Contact Us
Thanks to our Partners:

The Indianapolis Zoo is a 501(c)(3) organization.