Annual Zoolights festival begins Friday

Each night beginning Fri., Nov. 27, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium transforms into a winter wonderland, aglow with nearly 600,000 lights. During the annual Zoolights festival, the grounds are glittered with brightly-colored lights and magical displays in the shapes of animals and local landmarks.

The zoo is offering camel rides for the first time during Zoolights as well.

“Zoolights is so much more than pretty lights,” said John Houck, deputy director for Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. “You can ride a camel, feed a goat, visit with sharks and even meerkats, all while celebrating the season among the dazzling lights.”
The most beloved light displays are returning again this year, including the vibrant, ice-skating puffins adorned with gloves and scarves, majestic Mount Rainier overlooking the two Narrows Bridges, and the eagle swooping down to snatch his salmon from a flowing river.

The color and vibrancy of the displays is heightened dramatically by the use of LEDs, or light emitting diodes. In 2009, the percentage of LEDs rose from 85 to 90 percent leading to savings on costs and energy consumption. For example, the festival’s signature display called the flame tree went from drawing 90 amps down to 10 and from nine extension cords to one when switched to LEDs.

After an evening among the lights, Zoolights visitors can stop by the cafe for a meal, then scour the gift shop for unique, animal-themed holiday ideas.

“It’s easy to make an evening out of a trip to Zoolights,” said Houck. “Families are getting back to basics this year and Zoolights is a cherished, can’t miss holiday tradition for so many.”

Zoolights will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. from Nov. 27 through Jan. 3, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day; it will be closed on Dec. 24. Tickets are $7.50 at the zoo’s front gate and $6.50 at and Bartell Drugs. Children under 3 are free. The zoo is also offering a Zoo/Zoolights combo package; zoo tickets will be 50 percent off with the purchase of a Zoolights ticket good through January 3. Zoolights is presented by Fred Meyer.

Visit or call (253) 404-3822 for more information.