The Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is one of our favorite annual holiday traditions each holiday season.
There is something for the whole family to enjoy as the zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland. Each year there are new displays to see, holiday lights, Christmas music, and zoo animal-shaped lanterns that guests look forward to each year.
I’m sharing ways for you to save money on tickets for your next visit Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo.
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I’ve been going to the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo with my family ever since I was a little kid.
I brought my boyfriend-turned-husband to the Festival of Lights when he visited my hometown during college break and now I love creating memories with my own kids.
Family members of all ages will love experiencing the magic of the holidays together at the zoo.
The Cincinnati Zoo Uses Plan Ahead Pricing for Admission
The price that you see online today will most likely NOT go lower the closer you get to your desired date.
The zoo has dynamic pricing which changes during select nights during popular days/times based on attendance.
In fact, the price is more likely to increase the closer you get to your desired date, so lock in your price as early as possible.
On average, online prices for admission tickets are 40% lower than prices at the Cincinnati Zoo’s ticket window.
Online you’ll pick a select date for your visit to the Cincinnati Zoo and you can present the digital version of your ticket at the main entrance.
*There are discounted tickets available for member guests.
Purchase Discounted Tickets to the Festival of Lights In Advance
For the best deal, purchase general admission tickets online for the Cincinnati Zoo in advance.
You can find the lowest price for tickets to the Festival of Lights below and as an added bonus is that you don’t have to wait in line.Buy Discounted Tickets to the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights Here
How Much is Parking for the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights?
Parking at the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights is $10 per vehicle. You can use a credit card at the gate.
Come Early and Stay Late for the Best Value
For the best value of your admission, come early to see the animals before 5pm and stay later for the zoo lights.
Save on Multiple Cincinnati Attractions With a POGO Pass
Save on the following attractions around Cincinnati included with the Pogo Pass and don’t forget to use discount code “ADVMOM.”
- One (1) general admission ticket to Cincinnati Zoo
- One (1) visit to EnterTRAINment Junction
- One (1) general admission ticket for Deck The Y’alls LIGHTFEST!
- Two (2) Y’alls Baseball games during the regular season. Each Pogo Pass member receives One (1) ticket per game.
- One (1) visit to Jump!Zone.
- One (1) visit to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
- One (1) Museum Admission ticket to Cincinnati Museum Center which includes… The Children’s Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, and Cincinnati History Museum
- One (1) visit to Strike & Spare Cincinnati. – Each visit is good for one Fun Zone Wrist Band Play.
- One (1) visit per month to Velocity Esports for your choice of: One (1) hour of unlimited gameplay in the arcade. One (1) hour of unlimited PC or console gaming in the esports lounge
- One (1) visit to Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame Museum.
- One (1) visit to The Web Extreme Entertainment each month. Members can choose between Go-karts, climbing wall, laser tag, mini bowling, ValoJump, or mini golf.
- One (1) General admission ticket to Happy Hangout – Indoor kids playground.
- Two (2) visits to Fowling Warehouse for open play. Members can only redeem one open play per visit.
- One (1) General admission ticket to the Recreation Outlet.
What Are the Best Nights to Attend the Festival of Lights?
The least expensive nights for tickets are usually Mondays and Tuesdays.
Midweek evenings are also typically the least crowded nights to plan a visit if you are concerned about crowds and long lines.
The zoo suggests visiting before the time slot 4:30pm or after 7:30pm on nice weather days, weekends, and the week of Christmas during the Festival of Lights.
Group Tickets and Discounts at the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights
The more people you bring, the more you save with group rates.
There are special discounts for additional tickets available for groups of 15 or more, Groups of 50+, Nonprofit Groups, and school groups.
How to Save on Food and Drinks at the Festival of Lights
The Cincinnati Zoo allows coolers, backpacks, umbrellas, strollers, wagons, outside food and drink (except alcohol).
If you want to save on food items and drinks during your visit, you can pack snacks and thermos with hot chocolate or hot cocoa.
Zoo members receive a discounted rate on food service at various locations within the zoo.
Be on the lookout for two S’mores-n-More stands near fire pits for a marshmallow cooking experience.
How to Save on Zoo Attractions at the Cincinnati Zoo
The best value for multiple rides on the train and carousel is the unlimited rides package.
The rides (North Polar Express Train & Conservation Carousel) are both an included benefit of Platinum and Gold Members.
*Hours for the rides may vary due to inclement weather, maintenance, and low attendance.
For animal lovers, you may want to consider one of the Wild Encounters where guests can get up close with the animals.
Wild Encounters are separate ticketed events but they would make an incredible experience gift.
Save On Multiple Visits By Investing in a Cincinnati Zoo Membership
For the best overall value for a family, consider investing in a Cincinnati Zoo annual membership with unlimited visits all year long.
Cincinnati Zoo Membership perks include:
- Unlimited admission (excluding special and separately ticketed events.)
- Free parking each visit (Parking cannot be guaranteed on high attendance days. Parking is limited to one vehicle per named adult.)
- Early Entry into Zoo (9 -10am mid-March through October 31)
- Two half-price guest tickets per day. (Limit 2 half-price tickets per membership, per day. Half off full ticket price, the offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, i.e. Penguin Days. Member half-price tickets for the Festival of Lights Bonus days must be purchased in person at the Zoo.)
- Discounts at retail and food service locations in the zoo (some exclusions may apply, please see Gift Shop associates for details)
- Discounted Admission to over 100 reciprocal zoos and aquariums – including 7 in Ohio (may not be available at all Zoos listed at this time)
- Discounts on Zoo education classes, camps, and lectures
- Free Admission to the PNC Festival of Lights
- Access to exclusive content
- Subscription to Z-mail, a bi-monthly e-newsletter with the latest zoo news
What Are the Dates for the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights 2023?
The Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo is November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024
The Cincinnati Zoo will be open December 31 for New Year’s Eve and January 1st (New Year’s Day)
Park Hours 10am – 9pm (PNC Festival of Lights Activities begin at 4pm)