The Denver Zoo is a wonderful place to take kids all year round. Like most zoos, it closes at night. But, every holiday season, between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve, the zoo puts on a special after-dark event called Zoo Lights.
Denver Zoo Lights Hours
We are members at the zoo, which means we get into the zoo for free. It’s a no-brainer really if you live in the Denver area. Taking the family just twice basically adds up to the cost of membership, plus you get a 10 percent discount on the gift shop, train and carousel rides, and even food. However, you do not get into Zoo Lights for free even as Denver Zoo members.
A few years ago, we used to go to the zoo right before they closed the gates and then just stay inside. The Denver Zoo closes at 5:00 pm during winter hours, but the gates close at 4:00 pm. It used to be that entry for Zoo Lights started at 5:00 pm, so if you just didn’t leave, you got to stay for free. This year, the zoo closes at 5:00, like normal, but Zoo Lights does not start until 5:30 pm. They close the grounds, boot everyone out, and then start letting folks back in so if you want to go, you’re gonna pay 🙂
The official Denver Zoo Lights hours are from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
Denver Zoo Lights Tickets Prices and Admission
The cost for Denver Zoo Lights tickets depends on your age and whether your are member or not.
Denver Zoo Lights ticket prices for members are $10 for adults, $6 for kids age 3-11, and $8 for seniors age 65+.
Denver Zoo Lights ticket prices for non-members are $12 for adults, $8 for kids and $10 for seniors.
To avoid long-lines buying Zoo Lights tickets, purchase them online before you go. You don’t have to buy them in advance. You can buy them right before you go and then print out the ticket email you get in just minutes. Online tickets are a piece of paper with a bar code on them. You take that paper straight to the ticket taker and he scans it an the entry gate. There is no need to go to the ticket window to exchange your printout for tickets.
Both the train and the merry-go-round are open during zoo lights if you want to take a ride at night. The actual path goes around the whole zoo with the outlying areas roped off. It is well lit, and there is a meet Santa booth down by where the bears are.
Can I See the Animals During Zoo Lights
Very few of the animals are out during zoo lights. Most of them sleep inside. The ones that are out are hard to see, because even though there are lights, none of them are inside the animal enclosures. Bird World is closed. That means the only bathrooms other than near the entrance are at Asian Tropics (elephant area) and the Giraffe House three-quarters of the way around.
All in all, the Zoo Lights is a wonderful light show that rivals any of the Christmas lights in Denver. Remember it can get really cold after dark, so take a backpack full of gloves and hats, especially for the little ones. There are snacks and drinks inside, but you may as well just bring in some cereal bars and water bottles for the little ones and eat before you arrive.