CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Zoo is making spirits bright this holiday season with one of the Tri-State’s longest running holiday traditions: the 35th Annual PNC Festival of Lights .
The event kicks off with a special preview event on Friday, when Santa Claus will illuminate the tree and 3 million LED lights around the zoo. If you liked Festival of Lights last year, they promise this year's will be even better. In fact, the holiday display was voted as the No. 1 best zoo light show by USA Today in 2015 .
Preview night is only open to zoo members and invited media from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday. The event opens to the public on Saturday. The Festival of Lights will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through Jan. 1, 2018.
Santa will be available for visits and photos starting at 4 p.m. daily through Dec. 23, an hour before the rest of the festivities begin. The 35-foot-tall tree blanketed with more than 20,000 LED lights in the Zoo’s Historic Vine Street Village also makes a great family photo backdrop.
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New this year are 19 larger-than-life animal lanterns placed throughout the zoo. Visitors will be mesmerized by the new, 15-by-17-foot digital light wall featuring clips from classic holiday movies and can enjoy making their own designs on a giant Lite Brite screen.
In addition to the lights, visitors can ride the BB&T Toyland Express, search for fairies in Fairyland, marvel at the spectacular Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, watch a Madcap black-light puppet show, or snack at one of two S’mores-n-More stands. The Royal Sisters are back and ready to pose for pictures with their fans in the Frozen Wonderland themed area.
“PNC is proud of our long-standing partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo. The PNC Festival of Lights signifies the beginning of the holiday season each year and allows friends and family to create and celebrate traditions as they enjoy the lights, sights and sounds together,” said Kay Geiger, regional president of PNC.
Back by popular demand, the Zoo will be hosting Happy Zoo Year from 5 to 10 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31.Come out and meet Father Time and Baby Zoo Year during a one-of-a-kind meet and greet. Enjoy an early Zoo Year Countdown starting at 8:55 p.m. and top off the night with party favors and Rozzi’s fireworks.
Save time and money by getting your tickets online here . Half-priced coupons for select nights are available at participating Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Skyline Chili locations valid for Nov. 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 and Dec. 4, 5 and 6. Discounted tickets are also available at Kroger and Groupon.