Denver Zoo Lights With Young Children

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We are so lucky to have been invited to a special Zoo Lights 2016 preview at the Denver Zoo by our friend Katie Thomas from Perry and Co– (a fabulous Denver Real Estate Company) for the past three years, and the evening is always truly magical. I had no idea what to expect the first time we visited the event, and wanted to share our insider tips with you! Make sure to get your tickets early for this incredible event- running December 2-January 1- we hear Zoo Lights is a great way to ring in the New Year!


What You Will See

I LOVE the lights- you will see lights everywhere. There are lots of light-up animals, and even some animated. The carrousel, train, and Santa’s Workshop are open (expect long lines on busy nights). Many of the animals are tucked in to bed during the event, so don’t expect a ton of animal viewing. I am always dazzled by the hundreds of thousands of lights, though, and there are some super cool lights that look like fireworks falling down the leaves of trees- (my favorite). The special Washed Ashore: Art To Save The Sea exhibit, which looks really cool at night.

What You Can Do

You can ride the carrousel or visit Santa in his workshop (expect long lines during busy times). Various shops in the zoo are open, and I saw some super cute holiday gifts in the main gift shop. There are several cafes and beverage stands open as well, so you can nosh and enjoy the lights at the same time. On select nights, there is a princess meet and greet, choir stage, and other events (like ice carvers!) on selected evenings. You can check out the Zoo Lights website for more information about special events.

What You Should Wear

Dress in layers- it is cold outside at the event, but many of the indoor exhibits are open and if you want to spend some time inside, it can get hot. We usually wear warm indoor clothes, then our coats, hats, mittens, and grab blankets for the kids to cover themselves in the wagon or stroller while we walk. I think it’s super important to wear comfortable shoes, as there will be a lot of walking involved. I decided to wear my UGG boots one year, and my feet were honestly sore at the end. I’ve been wearing tennis shoes ever since- and warm warm socks!(affiliate)

What You Should Bring

We have young children, (1 and 3 at the time of writing) and Zoo Lights happens at night. We always bring the double stroller- when the girls get tired of walking, we let them sit down and ohh and aww over the lights in a much more passive manner. (There are wagons for rent near the entrance if you aren’t sure you want to drag a stroller along.) Dress warm- it is usually really cold for Zoo Lights. Also, outside food and drink are permitted at the Denver Zoo, so if your budget is tight, you can bring along your own favorite holiday snacks, or pack a picnic dinner. I also think that it’s super fun to take along glow sticks (affiliate) that the kids can wave around while we walk- a huge hit! There are also some super cool 3-D type Christmas light viewing glasses (affiliate) that make each individual light look like a star or snowflake. I didn’t think to bring those this year, but I was definitely envious of those who did.

The Bottom Line

Doesn’t this event sound fun? To purchase your tickets for Zoo Lights 2016 at the Denver Zoo, hop over to this link. Daily zoo admission does not include Zoo Lights admission. The zoo will continue it’s Winter hours, closing at 5 pm and re-opening at 5:30 for Zoo Lights. I’m excited to see that Zoo Lights admission this year has been discounted during traditionally less busy times, so definitely check out this year’s special pricing. There’s also is a $2 discount for purchasing tickets online, and for Denver Zoo members.

What is your favorite part about Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo? Comment below!

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  • Dennison
    November 30, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    The elephant exhibit, seemed this year they had so many more exhibits opened for the zoo lights!

    • Christa
      December 1, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      We didn’t even make it all the way back there- did they have tons of lanterns? We will have to go back! thanks so much for stopping by!