Lights Before Christmas kicks off Nov. 18 at Toledo Zoo

Press Staff Writer

        With the flip of a switch, the Toledo Zoo’s Lights Before Christmas presented by KeyBank will open Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. with the lighting of the award-winning “Big Tree,” an 85-foot Norway spruce and its state-of-the-art lighting package.
        For 37 years, The Toledo Zoo Lights Before Christmas presented by KeyBank has been a staple holiday tradition in Northwest Ohio. In 2021, the Toledo Zoo was voted second for USA TODAY 10Best Zoo Lights and this year’s celebration promises to be even more spectacular.
        The Toledo Zoo is nominated yet again for the 10Best Lights and urges the community to vote at        The tree-lighting ceremony is the kickoff of the six-week-long event which features over one million lights, 200+ illuminated animal images, an ice slide, and photo ops with Santa in the Arctic Encounter.
        There will also be various holiday concessions, including the return of the Yuletide Food & Spirits tent – located on the historic side of the Zoo – featuring freshly prepared seasonal sandwiches, soups, appetizers, and desserts as well as holiday cocktails and seasonal beers.
        “Every year, our dedicated staff works to create an even more spectacular and award-winning holiday lights event for visitors of all ages to enjoy,” said Shayla Moriarty, chief of staff and senior vice president of the Toledo Zoo. “We look forward to welcoming our guests to make memories and creating unique experiences they won’t find anywhere else.”
        Lights Before Christmas will be open Nov. 18-Dec. 31, during the following times:
        • Mondays-Thursdays, open 3-8 p.m.; park closes at 9 p.m.
        • Fridays-Sundays, open 3-9 p.m., park closes at 10 p.m.
        • Thanksgiving – Open 3-8 p.m., park closes at 9 p.m.
        • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – Open 3-9 p.m., park closes at 10 p.m.
        • New Year’s Eve – Open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. park closes at 10 p.m.
        Reservations are required for members and non-members and are released one week at a time. Tickets and more information are available at
        Rides and activities
        Rides and activities planned in conjunction with Lights Before Christmas include:
        • Ice Slide – $3.
        • African Carousel – $3.
        • Holly Jolly Express, sponsored by The Toledo Clinic – $3.
        • Holiday train ride through Africa! – Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, weather permitting.
        • Ice carving demos – free with admission, Thursdays in Dec. at 6 p.m. in the Main Plaza.
        • Swanton Model Train Railroad Club – free with admission, starting 5 p.m. daily in the café. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
        Visit with Santa in the Arctic Encounter, 4-8 p.m. daily, Nov. 18 – Dec. 23
        Enjoy the sounds of local and regional performance groups as they stroll through the grounds and delight us with holiday melodies!
        In addition, on Dec. 11, the zoo will present the Polar Paws & Santa Claws 5K Run/Walk. Learn more at


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