Columbus, OH

Wildlights returns to the Columbus Zoo with something for everyone

The Lantern
The zoo is putting on its annual Wildlights event from Nov. 19 through Jan. 2. Wildlights will feature roughly 3 million lights throughout the zoo. Credit: Courtesy of Grahm S. Jones.

For the rest of the calendar year, when the sun goes down, visitors at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will find themselves bathed in a different kind of light.

The zoo is putting on its annual Wildlights event from Friday through Jan. 2, 2022. Opening at 5 p.m. every night, Wildlights will feature roughly 3 million lights throughout the zoo, Kevin Rohrbacher, sales supervisor for the Columbus Zoo, said. The zoo will also feature rides and attractions, such as the Polar Bear Express and the S’mores Experience, which invites guests to roast marshmallows over a fire, according to the website .

“It’s just going to be an awesome place to come out and come hang with some friends, or bring a date,” Rohrbacher said. “Get out and enjoy some of the wintertime festivities we have out here.”

Additionally, Jeff Glorioso, director of events and promotions at the zoo, said the Columbus Zoo will feature several nights of appreciation for healthcare workers and first responders.

“Stuff The Truck” is a Dec. 3 event benefiting the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. Glorioso said guests who bring six non-perishable food items will receive free admission into the park for the night.

Due to the winter weather, some animals will not be able to participate in the festivities, Glorioso said. However, visitors will still have the chance to visit many fan favorites, such as the Manatee Coast exhibit, the zoo’s Discover Reef, the Reptile Lab and the elephants, which will be in an indoor area, he said.

Rohrbacher said the zoo has a program with Ohio State D-Tix, a campus organization that provides discounts for students, and encourages student groups to enjoy the festivities at a discounted price.

“It’d be great for fraternities, sororities, student organizations, whatever it is, to get out here, have a fun outing,” Rohrbacher said.

Glorioso said the zoo is for guests of all ages and visitors can come out, enjoy the Wildlights and have a great time, as long as they dress appropriately for the coming weather.

“You don’t have to have kids to come to the zoo,” Glorioso said. “You can come out and learn about animals and enjoy the holiday season.”

Wildlights is free to zoo members, while general entrance is $21.99 for non-Franklin County residents and $16.99 for Franklin County residents, according to Rohrbacher. There will also be discounts for seniors and youth.

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