by Laura Kocum
on Thursday, December 7th, 2017 at 2:05pm.
Madison residents likely know the gem that is Henry Vilas Zoo. The Zoo provides beautiful exhibits, a wide range of healthy, beautiful animals, and free admission to all. But for just this month, it's also added something special. The evening Zoo Lights display is well worth the visit.
This year is the second year for zoo lights. The event was started as a way to raise awareness of the zoo's winter hours, and to encourage year-round enjoyment. The evening event has grown, and includes a walk of almost all of the zoo grounds, with fabulous, lighted displays leading you along the way. The exhibits aren't just holiday themed. Visitors will enjoy lighted monkeys, hanging from trees, bears, penguins, flamingos and so many more creatures, often set near the same exhibit space where you'd see the real life animals during the day. Hot beverages (including spiced wine, hot chocolate and more) are available both in the café, and also in the center of the Zoo (adjacent to a warming station). This year, the zoo also added a holiday market, with nutcrackers, treats from Clasen's European Bakery, and other traditionally German gifts.
The Zoo Lights Display is available every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Santa visits children at the Barn in the Children's Zoo, and carousel rides are available, at no additional cost, until 8:30. Adults and children of all ages are sure to enjoy the walk, and the beauty of the thousands of lights. Last year 26,000 people visited, and so far this year, more than 12,000 have enjoyed the lights.
Admission is $7/person. Family packs (with 4 admission tickets) are available for $24, or you can get an all season pass (2 adults and 2 children) for $44.
The display will be open through December 31 (but is closed Dec. 24-25).