Christmas at the Zoo features new experiences, more lights and more nights than ever this year. The event kicks off Nov. 19 and continues daily through Dec. 30, 2022, closed only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Day. The Zoo opens at noon and Christmas at the Zoo activities go from 5-9pm, extended until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Fun around Indianapolis
Nominated for USA Today’s 10Best Zoo Lights for a seventh straight year, the Indianapolis Zoo was the first zoo in the nation to start a holiday lights event back in 1967. Now in its 53rd year, more than 100,000 annual guests come to experience the beauty and wonder of the Zoo during the holiday season.
Santa’s Village is the largest recent addition to Christmas at the Zoo. Walking under a festive archway, visitors will feel like they’ve stepped inside a glittering snow globe as they discover the whimsical scene in the Bicentennial Pavilion. Guests can visit Santa’s Study to meet Kris Kringle or stop by Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen to see her preparing treats. New this year, Santa’s Favorite Tree will dance to the music of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, creating a perfect photo op for families and friends. And with a wild twist like only the Zoo can do, guests can also interact with wintertime animals, like dogs and penguins, or meet reindeer in Santa’s Barn.
New in Flights of Fancy, families can beat the wintertime blues and escape to the tropics for a visit with Vacation Santa. With the help of his flamingo flock and some holiday magic, the Jolly Old Elf will seem to be in two places at once to greet even more children this year. Another new addition to the area, Arctic foxes will scurry nearby, perfectly adapted for the winter with their thick white fur. Many more of the Zoo’s robust animals will also be out enjoying the cooler weather, including tigers, brown bears, red pandas, sea lions and walruses. Special chats throughout the day will give guests opportunities to learn more about their favorite animals. Plus, the Zoo’s many indoor exhibits will offer a perfect place for visitors to go when cheeks get rosy.
Christmas Light Displays
As the sun sets, the Zoo will transform into a winter wonderland filled with colorful Christmas lights and displays. Near the front of the Zoo, the stunning Polar Pathway has become the most photo-worthy spot after dark and leads visitors down a glittering path into the rest of the Zoo. New this year, towering trees will beam with light, creating fantasy forests visitors can explore. Guests can activate the Dancing Lights display with the sounds of their voices or stop by We Three Trees for another fun family photo op.
Fun for All Ages
While community carolers fill the night with the familiar sounds of holiday songs, visitors can chase the chill away with a cup of hot cocoa or even a seasonal cocktail presented by Hotel Tango. As they stroll through the Zoo, guests can warm up by the campfires and look for hidden mistletoe for a chance to win a spectacular holiday gift — an Animal Art Adventure.
Under the Bicentennial Pavilion, you’ll discover Santa’s Village featuring:
- 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 through Dec. 23. Visit with Santa even earlier in the day Dec. 12-23 only from 12:30-4pm. The Zoo is closed Christmas Eve and Day, 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!
Download the event map and discover all that Christmas at the Zoo has to offer.
About the Indianapolis Zoo
The Indianapolis Zoo empowers people and communities, both locally and globally, to advance animal conservation. Located in White River State Park downtown, the Indianapolis Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the American Alliance of Museums as a zoo, aquarium and botanical garden. Visit IndianapolisZoo.com.