Woodland Park Zoo’s WildLights an illuminating walk on the wild side

Featured image: The Butterfly Garden glows at Woodland Park Zoo’s Wild Lights.

All photos by Cheryl Landes

From the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s night, wild things appear when darkness falls on the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Big cats lounge in branches high above your head. Elephants roam the savanna while a rhinoceros watches from a pond. Peacocks strut with fully articulated tails. Curious giraffes watch as you stroll pathways decorated in colorful lights.

It’s all part of the zoo’s annual WildLights, a holiday celebration featuring dozens of animal and habitat displays made from 600,000 energy-efficient LED lights.

But there’s more to do than simply looking at the lights. Make snow creatures and hear snow stories in the Snowmazium near the Butterfly Garden. Brace yourself, because you never know when a snowball fight will break out. Maybe you’ll want to jump in and toss a few when the fun starts.

Most of the real animals sleep during WildLights, but you can see a few at the Day Exhibit and the north side of the Adaptations Building. Visit the reindeer near the carousel, which is open for rides.


Check the calendar for special ambassador animal appearances Friday-Sunday.

Special activities include Seahawks Night, Pokémon Go Night, and Santa visits on weekends and daily the week before Christmas.

If you’re hungry, grab some chowder, pizza, hot doughnuts, and hot chocolate. Beer, wine, mulled wine, and spiked hot cider are also available for ages 21 and older.


WildLights hours are 5:30-8:30 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Enter through the west gate at 5500 Phinney Avenue N (view directions). Parking is free during WildLights nights but limited, so public transportation, carpooling, or taxi are recommended.

Admission is $9.95 ages 13 and older, $7.95 children 3-12, and free two and younger. Buy tickets online or at the gate. Carousel rides are $2 each.

Visit WildLights webpage for more information, or email Woodland Park Zoo at customerservice@zoo.org.

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