Christmas at the Zoo

Nov 23 - Jan 5

Christmas at the Zoo

5 - 9 PM

Open until 10pm Friday-Saturday
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve & Day
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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 continues to grow. For our 55th year, we’re adding beautiful new décor to enhance your holiday experience. And the best part is it’s all included with regular admission!

Under the Bicentennial Pavilion, you’ll discover Santa’s Village featuring:

  • Extra Opportunities to Visit Santa: Meet the Kris Kringle in Santa’s Study warmed by Peterman Brothers from 5pm until close. Or escape to the tropics to see Vacation Santa from 3-9 pm at Flights of Fancy. With the help of his flamingo flock and some holiday magic, the Jolly Old Elf can be in two places at once to greet even more children this year. Visits with Santa continue through Dec. 23. 
  • White River Gardens: The reopening of the White River Gardens brings more lights and sights to this year’s holiday celebration.
  • New Characters: Meet our new festive characters, the Ice Princess and Jack Frost, as they spreading holiday fun & cheer at the Zoo.
  • Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen:  Visit with Mrs. Claus to help decorate cookies and enjoy with milk through Dec. 30.
  • Santa’s Barn: See Santa’s sleigh and a few of his reindeer through Dec. 30.
  • Polar Pathway: Have your camera ready to remember the moment you step inside the glittering tunnel and are surrounded in glowing lights! Look for the one-way entry through the tunnel this year.
  • Storytime with Sprinkles & Holly: Returning for 2023, our holiday characters, Sprinkles and Holly, and their nightly storytelling outside of Cafe on the Commons.
  • Penguin Encounter: Get up close to these winter-ready birds from 6-8pm (animal and weather dependent).
  • Tinsel Tavern: Enjoy holiday-themed cocktails featuring Hotel Tango spirits and wines from Daniel’s Vineyard.
  • Mirror Maze: Laugh your way through the fun twists and turns of the Mirror Maze!

Download our event map and discover all that Christmas at the Zoo has to offer.

Vote for Christmas at the Zoo!

Our beloved holiday event is nominated for USA TODAY's 10Best Zoo Lights! Vote daily through Nov. 30 to help us take top honors this year.

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

Year after year, Christmas at the Zoo has been voted in the top five of USA Today’s 10 Best Zoo Lights! 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. New this year, families can join in the countdown to light up our new animated Merry & Bright Christmas Tree located in front of the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. Over in Plains, Santa’s Favorite Tree presented by Twinkly will dance to the music of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, creating a perfect photo op for families and friends and or stop by We Three Trees presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers for another fun family photo op.

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: 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  $2.50 refills all night long. You can also chase the chill with a seasonal cocktail presented by Hotel Tango Distillery.
  • Holiday goodies: Check out our holiday Foodie Guide here. Make your night out even sweeter with delicious treats from Winter Cheer or find Zoo fare at Café on the Commons.
  • Journey to the North Pole presented by ITS Logistics: Look for our two large holiday nutcrackers to greet you for your magical wintertime journey on the White River Junction Train.
  • Campfires: Warm up by one of our campfires or at the Hearth inside Santa’s Village.
  • Paws and Think: Improving lives through the power of the human-dog connection. Cuddle with some of our furry friends from Paws and Think under the Bicentennial Pavilion. *Select Dates*
Go Green 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.

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 Arctic foxes, tigers, red panda, brown bears, 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 before 4pm and you may also see additional animals in Plains.

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.

Plan Ahead and Save!

Christmas at the Zoo is free for members and included with Zoo general admission.

Give a gift that also supports our animal conservation mission
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
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The Indianapolis Zoo is a 501(c)(3) organization.