If you love Christmas lights and you also love animals then here is the perfect event for you. Just hop in the car and head for the Toledo Zoo where you can participate in their 30th annual Lights Before Christmas event running from November 13 through January 3, 2016. And it’s only a 90 minute drive from Cleveland.
A holiday event that offers a wide variety of activities that all ages can enjoy, the family-oriented Lights Before Christmas features more than a million holiday lights, 200 light animal images, the Dancing Lights and an 85 foot Norway Spruce Tree decorated with more than 30,000 wide-angle LED lights. One activity you won’t to miss is taking a ride down the Ice Slide located in the Amphitheater. There are 3 lanes that will send you whooshing down the slide for a ride you won’t soon forget. The Ice Slide is in operation from 3 p.m. until Zoo closing time. You must be at least 42 inches tall to ride the Ice Slide.
There will be animal encounters galore with the Holiday Animal Experience taking place each day beginning at 3 p.m. in Tiger Terrace where visitors are able to get close up and have their photos taken with reindeer and Bactrian camels. Other activities at Lights Before Christmas include ice carving demos in the Main Plaza, viewing a model train display, enjoying a show with Douglas the Talking Tree ( in the indoor theater of the Museum of Science), riding the carousels (additional small fee) and of course, visiting Santa who will be in the Great Hall of the Museum of Science beginning at 5 p.m. each day.
There will be lots of free, live musical entertainment each evening provided by area choirs and choruses and bands and when you get hungry, you can purchase items like funnel cakes, popcorn, cinnamon-glazed nuts, cinnamon pretzels and holiday cookies. Full service meals are available for purchase in Carnivore Cafe and Karoo Snacks and in addition there will be hot pizza available in the museum when you visit Santa.
If you want to make your visit to the Toledo Zoo truly special, you can participate in the Festive Feast at the Lodge which includes a delectable buffet, holiday sweet treats, the Zoo’s famous hot chocolate, an animal encounter and a photo opportunity with Santa (on Monday and Tuesday evenings), An adult night-out themed Feast on Wednesday evening includes the buffet, live entertainment and an animal encounter. Reservations are required. Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for children (2-11) and also include admission to Lights Before Christmas.
Here are some fun facts about Lights Before Christmas. More than 70 miles of lights are used in the display and nearly 50,000 feet (almost 10 miles) of extension cords are used. A crew of 12-15 people starts decorating in August and after the event it takes 2 months to take down all the lights.
Hours for the Lights Before Christmas event are 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Admission is $15 for adults (12-59), $12 for seniors (60+) and $12 for children (2-11). Children under 2 are free.
For more information about the Lights Before Christmas or about the Toledo Zoo, get online at www.toledozoo.org. The Toledo Zoo is located at 2 Hippo Way in Toledo, Ohio. It is approximately a 1.5 hour drive from Cleveland.