The L.A. Zoo is staying open after dark most nights through January during this delightful take on its light-up holiday tradition.
Once again, the event’s “Animals Aglow” edition has gone all in on oversized animal-shaped lanterns, and the result is a colorful, charming trail that celebrates the zoo’s natural inhabitants. Though the theme has carried over from last year, the selection of lanterns inspired by the venue’s wild residents is completely different this time around; plentiful and vibrant, these parrots, bears, butterflies, scorpions and owls come to life with playful movements and animation. Flora shares some of the focus, too, particularly in the golden glow of the field of grazing bison.
This year’s biggest change comes to the northern edge of the grounds, where you’ll find the Winter Wildlands area. The too-narrow lights tunnels here have been ditched in favor of a vision-filling polar playground, a gleefully gaudy burst of rainbow lights and icy structures that’ll make sure you don’t leave wishing that there’d been more lights.
Though Zoo Lights has eschewed most overtly Christmassy elements outside of this area (a thematically focused upgrade to its original versions, in our opinion), it hasn’t ditched interactive spectacle. You can stomp on a color-changing hopscotch path, relax on illuminated swings, dance inside a shell of kaleidoscopic mirrors and bounce on some glowing seesaws.
Buy your timed tickets (available in two sessions nightly) in advance to avoid the worst of the entry lines, and stick to the “value” nights if you want to save up to $6 on admission. Also, wear comfortable shoes; the lights only cover about a third of the zoo grounds, but you’ll be walking slightly uphill for most of the way.
Can I buy L.A. Zoo Light tickets at the door?
Yes, the box office is open from 5:45 to 8:45pm. But we’d highly encourage buying your tickets (available for entry starting at 6 or 7:30pm) in advance to secure your preferred time slot and avoid some of the lines.
How long does it take to see L.A. Zoo Lights?
It took us just over an hour to walk through the experience while stopping for photos a bit along the way. Had we taken a spin on the carousel, roasted some s’mores, grabbed a bite to eat or waited in line for a handful of photo ops, we could have easily spent another half hour or more there.