Experience the Holiday Magic of Zoo Lights


Nuha Khatri

The Henry Vilas Zoo will be illuminated in lights and full of holiday cheer throughout the remainder of December.

Nuha Khatri

As the holiday season kicks off throughout the nation, a charming tradition is only beginning in Madison, Wisconsin. Most locals know the Henry Vilas Zoo to be a bustling and delightful place to be during the summer months, however, lesser known is the winter wonderland the zoo becomes for the months of November and December.

Henry Vilas Zoo prepares to kick off its annual zoo lights event each weekend until January, and visitors should prepare to be dazzled by almost one million bulbs that will illuminate the zoo. The 2022 event includes several more enchanting animal displays compared to prior years, such as the polar bear statues as well as the snowmen scattered throughout the zoo, which visitors can view from the magnificent one-way path that circles throughout the zoo. Here is some important information to keep in mind before planning a visit.

The zoo lights run from Nov. 25 to Dec. 30, 2022, and are open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 5:30-8:00 p.m. Guests are advised to purchase tickets online as there will be no selling of tickets at the entrance. All tickets include unlimited carousel rides as well as an opportunity to chat with Santa until Dec. 25. 

Many Madison-area residents have already taken a stroll under the lights, and while the true magic of the Zoo Lights cannot be given justice within a quick explanation, recent testimonials have been very enthusiastic.  

“The zoo lights are just amazing. They’re beautiful,” Jenny Gnau, a current sophomore attending Monona Grove High School, said. 

Visiting the Henry Vilas Zoo Lights is the perfect opportunity to experience the magic of the holidays. Be sure to dress properly to face the dropping temperatures! Appreciate the beauty and creativity that surrounds you as you walk past each display. The donations gathered from the zoo lights event aids Henry Vilas zoo in expanding their summer programs, exhibits and allows the zoo to continue to create such memorable experiences for their guests.