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ZooLights Highlights

Photograph by Kyle Jameson.

UPDATE: The Giant Panda Habitat will be open for extended hours during ZooLights so you can bid farewell to Tai Shan

ZooLights, the off-hours winter lights event, kicked off Friday night at the festively decorated National Zoo, attracting the wonder of children and stroller-pushing parents.

Winter scenes and sculptures—illuminated with thousands of twinkling, environmentally friendly LEDs—feature some of the zoo’s most popular animals, including giant pandas, African elephants, and golden lion tamarins.

Many of the real animals are catching z’s or just away from their usual stomping grounds, but visitors can still visit some of the indoor exhibits, including the Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat, Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discovery Center, Think Tank, and Kids’ Farm.

As visitors meander through, something surprising is around every corner: displays synchronized to “Jingle Bell Rock,” musicians plucking guitars, and even a costumed panda cutting the rug inside a giant snow globe.

On opening night, Blue Sky Puppet Theatre performed its rendition of “The Three Little Pigs.” The troupe plays under the pavilion near the Kids’ Farm every night at 6:45 and 7:45, except December 26 through 29, when Flumpa and Friends Live takes the stage.

Though the event is tailored to the tastes of toddlers and small children, we think it’d make for a great date or night out with friends.

ZooLights, put on by Friends of the National Zoo, runs December 11 through December 13 and December 18 through January 2 (every night except December 24, 25, and 31) from 6 to 8:30. Tickets, available here, are $8 or $5 for FONZ members.

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