Denver Zoo Lights With Young Children

Multiple strands of lanterns tied up between buildings at Denver Zoo Light Festival of Lanterns.

There’s nothing like experiencing the Denver Zoo at night- replete with over a million lights. Wander the grounds with your family while sipping hot chocolate and enjoying the illumination.

Denver Zoo Lights is one of our top picks from our 18 Things To Do With Kids In Denver For Christmas – here’s why you should visit this year.

Photo courtesy of Denver Zoo

What You Will See At Denver Zoo Lights

I LOVE the lights- you will see lights everywhere. In fact, there are over a million lights, transforming Denver Zoo into a winter wonderland.  There are lots of light-up animals, and even some animated sculptures. 

This year, Santa has changed his schedule, and will only be available in the daytime.

Many of the animals are tucked into bed during the event, so don’t expect a ton of animal viewing. You will probably see Rduolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, however.

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). 

Photo courtesy of Denver Zoo

Activities At Denver Zoo Zoo Lights

You can ride the carousel 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!).

Image courtesy of Denver Zoo

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)

Photo courtesy of Denver Zoo

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.

Photo courtesy of Denver Zoo

Where To Buy Zoo Lights Tickets

Doesn’t this event sound fun? 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.

The Zoo Lights almost always sells out, so make sure to buy your tickets to this year’s Zoo Lights Illuminated With Lights in advance here.

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  • Reply
    November 30, 2016 at 10:19 pm

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

    • Reply
      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!