Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

December 15, 2019

Every year my mom gives us zoo passes, and it’s one of our most used membership through the year. We love visiting the Cincinnati Zoo all year round, but at Christmas time it’s so magical. Our Zoo’s lights were actually voted the best in the nation for the second year in a row, which is so neat!

Our Game Plan:

We decided to go on a Saturday night before the weather in Cincinnati started to get colder over the next couple of days. Going on a Saturday night was a little risky because it was going to be very busy. Thanks to my friend Breana, she had suggested getting there at 3:30 to beat the crowds. Parker usually naps till about 3, so we knew that wasn’t going to happen.

We then decided to we would aim for 4, and hope to beat the crowd. In a typical fashion for us, we ended there at 4:30, a half-hour after we wanted to. It was already starting to get very crowded. The line to the parking lot moved very slow and we parked further away than I thought we would have. Before we arrived I had a game plan in my head to stick to, with our end goal being out by 6ish to head to dinner on the way home.

Pictures with the tree:

As soon as you walk into the Zoo you are greeted by this beautifully decorated gigantic tree. It’s a staple every year during the festival, and we are never there during the light. This was our chance to get great pictures! The kids did pretty well for all the smiles we made them sit for. It always helps that we can bribe Parker to give us just one more smile! I am not over bribing to get a great picture, with an overly big smile and no eyes.

Ride the Train:

The number one thing on our list was to ride the train! CJ had never ridden the zoo train before and it’s Parker’s favorite. The line was longer than I had expected it to be. Thank goodness for Nana and Grandpa who walked around Parker while the rest of us waited in the line. We had to wait for a couple of trains but it ended up working out perfectly.

When it was finally our turn to board, we were the first ones on the train. Parker and CJ got the coveted last seat in which you face backward. My parents didn’t ride the train with us, but they went from train crossing to crossing to wave! Also, as we were departing from the station the sun was setting and it was starting to get darker. The train provides the best view of the lights, especially around the pond. Lights are synchronized to music and it’s the highlight for many!

See the Lights:

After the train ride, with it getting dark outside it was time to see the lights! We only did a small loop on our way to the gorillas. Parker was semi-interested in the lights, but mostly just wanted to run around. Hadley, on the other hand, is at the perfect age for all these twinkly lights. The lights around the zoo are breathtaking! Along with the lights they had life size light-up animals that definitely got Parker’s attention.

Out the door:

After walking around for a bit it was time to head to the exit. The kids were getting restless, as it was time for dinner. The zoo has many great options for dining. They actually just opened a new beer garden close to the entrance called ‘Hops.’ We decided to avoid all the crowds and head somewhere on the way home.

We only saw a small portion of the festival of lights this year in a quick manner. Each year our priories will change. As the kids get older, I am sure we will be visiting Santa, see the Reindeers, and be able to see the whole zoo. This is why I love having a pass, even if we don’t see all of it we can always go back another time! I cannot recommend enough to give the gift of a zoo pass this year and always!



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About Katie

About Katie


Welcome to my little corner of the internet! Living Amidst is a Cincinnati-based lifestyle blog. Katie is a wife, mother, and a woman fighting Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. This little space was created when my son was four months old and I lost who I was. Living Amidst became my corner of the internet to find myself again. My Instagram and blog focus on motherhood, self-care, and my journey through my recent diagnosis of cancer. Read More

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