Christmas at the Zoo


Nov 21 - Dec 30

Christmas at the Zoo

5 - 9 PM

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

Presented by Donatos and Teachers Credit Union. Reservations and timed-entry tickets needed for guests and members. Masks required to enter the Zoo.
Reservations Required

Christmas at the Zoo presented by Donatos and Teachers Credit Union

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 52nd 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:

  • Extra Hours to Visit Santa: Meet the Jolly Old Elf under the Bicentennial Pavilion in Santa’s Study from 5-9pm Sundays through Thursdays, until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The Zoo is closed Christmas Eve and Day and New Year’s Eve and Day.
  • Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen: Free visits with Mrs. Claus through Dec. 23 and a special treat decorating kit available for purchase. 
  • Santa’s Barn: See Santa’s sleigh and a few of his reindeer.
  • Tunnel of Lights: Have your camera ready to remember the moment you step inside the tunnel and are surrounded in glowing lights! Look for the one-way entry through the tunnel this year.
  • 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 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!
Help Christmas at the Zoo Reach #1
Vote for 10Best Zoo Lights

What an honor! We're nominated for USA TODAY 10Best Zoo Lights — our sixth straight year. Please vote every day through Dec. to help Christmas at the Zoo reach the top.

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! 

  • Cheerful Carolers: NEW this year, we welcome the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir as they sing carols near the warm campfires and Hearth. Join in and sing a long with these spectacular voices on select Saturday nights.
  • Cup of Cheer: A hot beverage is a perfect way to stay warm on a chilly night. Purchase a reusable mug and enjoy  $1 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!
  • Campfires: Warm up by one of our campfires or at the Hearth inside Santa’s Village.
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. The Hilbert Conservatory in White River Gardens will also be open from noon-5pm each day.

If your cheeks start to get rosy, dash inside to enjoy the animals in Oceans, Deserts, the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center and St. Vincent Dolphin Pavilion.  During special dolphin presentations you’ll even hear the familiar voice of radio personality Kristi Lee sharing a festive Zoo version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Help Mother Earth This Holiday Season
Recycle 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 our friends at Technology Recyclers.

Plan Ahead and Save!

Christmas at the Zoo is free for members and included with Zoo admission. However, timed-entry reservations are required for all guests, including children under age 2.

Reserve Your Time
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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 Adventure, Premium Sloth Encounter, 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 and Santa’s Study Assistant. Volunteers receive two complimentary Zoo admission tickets for each volunteer shift during Christmas at the Zoo.

Help us Create the Magic

Contact our Volunteer Services team for more details.

Contact Us
Thanks to our Partners:
Donations:

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