Lincoln Park ZooLights entrance sign

Lincoln Park Zoo is one of many great free attractions in the Chicago area. If you are looking for some free fun any time of the year, the Lincoln Park Zoo will not disappoint. December is an ideal time to visit Lincoln Park Zoo. The zoo, which is free and open year round, offers a fantastic holiday Zoo Lights event which stands out as one of the best light displays in the state.

Cool blue lighted tree at Lincoln Park ZooLights

In my opinion, the lighting display here is better than the popular Holiday Magic event at Brookfield Zoo as the lights are more colorful and the zoo is much more compact. And thus, the display looks more organized. You will not see many animals at night, however, the indoor exhibits are still open. This is great as Chicago winters are often brutally cold, so it’s nice to have a warm escape. The indoor primate and lion exhibits are pretty cool.

Lion sleeping at Lincoln Park Zoo

The ice carving demonstrations are one of the highlights of the festival. Wow, these artists are really talented – it’s hard to believe what they can create with a simple block of ice! We saw a few different ice carvings including a shark, octopus, and giraffe -check them out! Amazing work…

Beautiful ice carving at the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights in Chicago
Giraffe ice sculpture at Lincoln Park Zoo

The lights are so colorful and beautiful, especially the tunnel of trees. You can really tell that there was some major effort put into stringing the lights as opposed to carelessly flopping them over the branches. The synchronized light and music show is also amazing. Numerous festivities are held throughout the holiday season including caroling, ice carving demonstrations, and visits from Santa. Specialty holiday drinks and snacks are available, so grab a hot cocoa to keep you warm while you enjoy the display.

A few photos of this year’s festive light display!

Lincoln Park Zoo lights
Lincoln Park ZooLights - candy cane lights on tree
Candy cane holiday lighted trees at Lincoln Park Zoo
Multi colored lighted trees at Lincoln Park ZooLights
Cool pink lighted tree at Lincoln Park ZooLights
Toy soldiers light display at Lincoln Park ZooLights
Penguin light display at Lincoln Park ZooLights
Cute snowman display at the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

Lincoln Park Zoo is a great place to visit any time of the year, especially around the holidays with the fabulous ZooLights spectacular! Zoo lights opens in late November and runs through early January. The event runs from 5pm-9pm and dates vary throughout the month. Check the Lincoln Park Zoo website for details for this year’s dates/times. I love the fact that LPZ offers free admission and is located just a few minutes north of downtown Chicago! Update: Zoo lights is now $7-10 per person, although admission is still free on Mondays!

Have you been to this festival or any others like it? Comment below with you favorite zoo light displays!

More info on Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

Address: 2001 N Clark St Chicago, IL 60614

Dates: The event runs from mid November through early January. Closed major holidays.

Admission: Tickets range from $7-10. Free general admission on Mondays.

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