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Christmas Lights at the Bronx Zoo

Think you've seen all that New York has to offer at Christmastime? The Bronx Zoo is sure to change your mind with its Holiday Lights Festival Christmas light show!

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

8 min read

Christmas Lights at the Bronx Zoo

Light Show at the Bronx Zoo | ©Jim Griffin

Do you love light festivals? Every Christmas, the Bronx Zoo organizes a beautiful festival called Holiday Lights Festival where its animals are the absolute protagonists. You can't miss it!

1. How to buy tickets to see the Bronx Zoo Christmas lights?

Giraffes of Lights at the Bronx Zoo| ©Wally Gobetz
Giraffes of Lights at the Bronx Zoo| ©Wally Gobetz

To attend the Bronx Zoo's Holiday Lights Festival you will need to purchase tickets online in advance in order to reserve the date and time of your visit, as with regular park admission tickets ("Limited Admission Ticket" and "Bronx Zoo Admission Ticket").

In other words, you will need to purchase tickets for the Christmas Festival of Lights itself, as you will not be allowed to enter with any other Zoo ticket for this event.

These tickets are not purchased at the box office but on the Bronx Zoo website. If you have already decided to visit the park during Christmas, I recommend you to do it as early as possible because the demand is very high and tickets usually sell out quickly.

Buy tickets for the Bronx Zoo

How much do tickets to see the Bronx Zoo Christmas lights cost?

Lights on the path of the Bronx Zoo| ©Joshua Bousel
Lights on the path of the Bronx Zoo| ©Joshua Bousel

Tickets to the Holiday Lights Festival are priced a bit higher than regular tickets to visit the Bronx Zoo**(starting at $35** for adults), as this is a special once-a-year Christmas event.

We compare prices for all Bronx Zoo tickets

  • Limited Admission Ticket
  • Price range
  • Adult (age 13 and over): from $24
  • Senior (over 65 years old): from $22
  • Children (3 to 12 years old): from $16
  • Infants (under 2 years old): Free of charge
  • Bronx Zoo Admission Ticket
  • Admission Prices
  • Adult (over 13 years old): from $30
  • Senior (over 65 years old): from $28
  • Children (3 to 12 years old): from $22
  • Infants (under 2 years old): Free
  • Holiday Lights Festival
  • Price range
  • Adult (over 13 years old): from $35
  • Senior (over 65 years old): from $30
  • Children (3 to 12 years old): from $20
  • Infants (under 2 years old): Free

Can I stay to see the Christmas lights if I go during the day at the Zoo?

No, it's not possible. Those visitors who have entered the Bronx Zoo during the day with a regular ticket will have to leave at 4:30 PM, the park's usual closing time during the cold months.

During the Holiday Lights Festival period (November 19 - January 9), all visitors entering the zoo after 3 PM must have a ticket specifically for this event in order to remain in the zoo for the Holiday Lights Festival.

However, during the Christmas season you can buy regular tickets to visit the zoo even if you do not attend the light show.

Buy tickets for the Bronx Zoo

3. How can I save money to see the Christmas lights? Are there reduced rates?

Bronx Zoo Christmas Lights Show| ©Joshua Bousel
Bronx Zoo Christmas Lights Show| ©Joshua Bousel

Although the Bronx Zoo has Holiday Lights Festival promo codes that apply to military and students in New York, the truth is that most visitors who go to the zoo can't take advantage of them. But don't worry! That doesn't mean there aren't other options for families to save a little when purchasing their tickets to see the holiday lights.

Thanks to the Holiday Lights Festival's discounted group rates, children ages 3-12 (starting at $20) and adults 65 and older (starting at $30) can enter the Bronx Zoo event for less per ticket than adults.

In this way, families will be able to slightly reduce their spending on this activity and use the money saved to do other things in the Big Apple during Christmas, such as going to see an NBA game, a Broadway musical or the Madame Tussauds Museum.

4. Is it free to see the Christmas lights at the Bronx Zoo?

Peacock Lights| ©Wally Gobetz
Peacock Lights| ©Wally Gobetz

While "Limited Admission" to the Bronx Zoo is free all day on Wednesdays, the same is not true for the Holiday Lights Festival.

For the duration of the event, the last admission to the zoo during the day is at 12 PM and starting at 3 PM, all visitors must purchase a Holiday Lights Festival ticket to gain access to the grounds.

5. When do I go to see the Bronx Zoo's Christmas lights? What are the hours of the festival?

Holiday Lights Festival Decorations| ©Rich & Danielle
Holiday Lights Festival Decorations| ©Rich & Danielle

The Bronx Zoo's Holiday Lights Festival is open nightly from November 19 through January 9 from 4:30 PM to 10 PM. The park is only closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.

What days can you see the Christmas lights?

  • November
  • Dates
  • Friday to Sunday
  • 19,20,21,26,27,28
  • December
  • Dates
  • Thursday to Sunday
  • 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17,18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
  • January
  • Dates
  • Friday to Sunday
  • 2, 7, 8, 9

How much time do you need to visit the Bronx Zoo's Christmas lights?

Animals Made of Lights| ©WalkingGeek
Animals Made of Lights| ©WalkingGeek

About 2 or 3 hours. Holiday Lights Festival is an event to enjoy the Christmas lights and lanterns in the shape of animals and plants that decorate the zoo at night but it's not the only thing to see there. There are also many other winter-themed and animal-themed shows that will leave you open-mouthed, so much so that you won't want to leave the zoo!

What will you see at the Bronx Zoo's Christmas light show?

Butterflies of Lights at the Bronx Zoo| ©Joshua Bousel
Butterflies of Lights at the Bronx Zoo| ©Joshua Bousel

Attending the Holiday Lights Festival is a fun and original way to celebrate Christmas. It is a family-friendly outdoor event full of lights, music and color to liven up the winter nights with nature as a backdrop. You will be amazed with everything they have prepared!

What exhibits and activities are part of the festival?

During the Holiday Lights Festival you will be able to see more than 260 super cool lanterns and lamps representing dozens of species of animals and plants, which you can see during the day at the zoo (gorillas, lions, zebras, tigers, monkeys, anacondas, bears, turtles ...) but in a much more resplendent and colorful version.

Another beautiful exhibit that you can see at the zoo during the event is the Forest of Color, a space formed by about twenty new lanterns that join the traditional ones to represent some of the smallest animals of our planet, which despite their tiny size have beautiful colors that make them shine brightly.

The purpose of this "Forest of Color" is to represent the beauty and diversity of nature through the light of these lanterns and to remind us of the importance of caring for nature.

But during the visit to the Holiday Lights Festival, in addition to the lights, you will be able to see many other things that will complete this fantastic experience.

For example, there is puppet theater for the kids (at Dancing Crane Pavilion), ice carving competitions and demonstrations where you can see the incredible talent of many artists (at Grizzly Corner), stilt walkers (at Astor Court), animal costumes (at Somba Village) and even a Christmas train where you can ride to tour the park (at Astor Court) for only $3 more.

What other light festivals to see in New York in the winter?

If you like festivals of lights, Christmas is a fabulous time to behold them. If you have time in your schedule, after seeing the Holiday Lights Festival I recommend you to discover the New York Winter Lantern Festival and the LuminoCity Festival, you will have a great time and take some beautiful pictures!

8. Tips for seeing the Christmas lights at the Bronx Zoo.

Animals of Lights at the Bronx Zoo| ©Joshua Bousel
Animals of Lights at the Bronx Zoo| ©Joshua Bousel

Remember to reserve your tickets online in advance for the Holiday Lights Festival at the Bronx Zoo. All visitors must have a ticket with a specific date and time to visit.

For safety, do not touch the lights, lamps or displays. Stay within the marked paths that are part of the festival and do not enter the exhibit areas or planters.

During the Holiday Lights Festival, not all of the zoo is open, but only a portion of the zoo where the event takes place. Therefore, some areas of the park and the Bronx Zoo animal exhibit areas will be closed after 4 PM. In this regard, please follow all the signs that form the festival itinerary.

Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. The Holiday Lights Festival occupies a large space inside the Bronx Zoo so you will be walking quite a bit. Since the event takes place during the winter, don't forget to dress warmly as temperatures drop significantly in the evenings.

At the end of your visit, stop by the gift store before you leave the zoo because they have lots of festival-themed souvenirs that will be a great souvenir of the experience!

9. Where to eat near the Bronx Zoo for Christmas?

Entrance to the Dancing Crane Café| ©Shinya Suzuki
Entrance to the Dancing Crane Café| ©Shinya Suzuki

You won't have to go far from the Bronx Zoo if you get the itch in the middle of the Holiday Lights Festival because there are plenty of dining options inside the zoo itself.

For example, the Dancing Crane Café restaurant will be open during the entire event, but weather permitting, at night there will also be stalls and food carts like Zoo Bites or Zoo Brews distributed throughout the park where you can buy some snacks and drinks to replenish your energy to continue with the tour.

What to see near the Bronx Zoo for Christmas?

New York Botanical Garden| ©Salim Virji
New York Botanical Garden| ©Salim Virji

After viewing the Bronx Zoo's Christmas lights, you may want to take the opportunity to stroll around the area and check out other nearby attractions that also host holiday-themed events.

One of them is the New York Botanical Garden, which at this time of the year organizes a wonderful show with toy trains surrounded by the nature of the botanical garden in the Enid A. Haupt greenhouse, which has become a Christmas tradition since it began to be prepared in the 90s.

It is an endearing experience that pays homage to New York City by recreating to scale some of its most popular tourist attractions (the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Chrysler Building, etc.) with plant materials from the botanical garden itself.

Since the Holiday Train Show is a very popular event at Christmas time, I advise you to book your ticket in advance on their website because they sell out.

Finally, if you liked the Christmas lights at the Bronx Zoo you will also like the Christmas lights at Dyker Heights. New York at Christmas, as you can see, is a real experience.

Practical information about the Bronx Zoo

  • Bronx Zoo Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM. Mondays closed. The Holiday Train Show is held from mid-November to mid-January.
  • Address: New York Botanical Garden at 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx.
  • Bronx Zoo prices: From $30 adult admission (ages 13 to 64) and from $16 child admission (ages 2 to 12).