A Holiday Visit to San Antonio Zoo Lights

Each November, the San Antonio Zoo rings in the holiday season by transforming the entire park into a shimmery, gleaming display of lights and all things Christmas. This festive holiday makeover, known locally as SA Zoo Lights, touches nearly all aspects of the zoo and includes dazzling displays, merry music, tasty treats, and miles of luminous lights. 

And while you may not see as many animals as a typical zoo visit (it’s nighttime, they’re asleep!), there is still quite a bit to take in and enjoy in the weeks leading up to Christmas that a visit is well worth it. Here’s a brief rundown on what you can expect on your visit to the San Antonio Zoo Lights celebration.

San Antonio Zoo Lights

When Does Zoo Lights Begin?

The dates aren’t hard and fast, but you can expect Zoo Lights to begin sometime mid-November (typically before Thanksgiving) and continue through the end of December. The San Antonio Zoo is open every day of the year and your standard zoo tickets will automatically include entrance to Zoo Lights.

San Antonio Zoo Lights

What’s There To Do At Zoo Lights?

San Antonio Zoo Lights

The darkness of the habitats as well as the fact that many of the animals sleep at night does make it a bit difficult to call this a traditional zoo visit. That said, we were still able to see a few furry and feathered friends including the flamingos, a Komodo dragon, and Timothy and Uma, the world famous pair of hippos who were happily swimming/dancing around their aquatic abode. 

San Antonio Zoo Lights

Nighttime is a great time, however, to check out some of the zoo’s bird species as they were all quietly roosting for the night and easy to see. But if you’re all about the animals and want to make your visit during daylight hours, check out our post on 10 Fun Facts About the San Antonio Zoo.

Zoo Train

San Antonio Zoo Lights

Take a ride on the Holiday Express Sing-along Zoo Train which blasts the musical sounds of the season while ferrying guests on a pleasant ride through Brackenridge Park. Tickets are $6/person for ages 3 and up and can be purchased at the train depot located across the street from the zoo entrance. Please note the train DOES NOT enter the zoo.

Polar Playground

San Antonio Zoo Lights

The Polar Playground is just what it sounds like – a place for the kiddos to run and play. There is a large slide that kids can “tube” down (no snow required), a few inflatables for jumping, and a petting zoo with goats, a llama, and an adorable miniature horse.

Holiday Overlays

San Antonio Zoo Lights

Each area of the zoo undergoes a holiday transformation with jolly overlays being applied to each section. Overlays, which include lots of lights, decorations, photo ops and more, transform the Savannah, home to a number of African animals, into the Starry Safari. The Friedrich Aquarium becomes the Water Wonderland. And our favorite pink birds become the Fa La La Flamingos.

Lakeside Laser Light Show

San Antonio Zoo Lights

Located right next to the carousel (which is worth taking a spin on) is a light show and smallish laser projection that are timed to Christmas music. They essentially run nonstop from about 6pm to closing.

Cowboy’s Yuletide Trail

San Antonio Zoo Lights

A trail of glimmering lights ends at a pavilion containing activities for the littles while educating families about the importance of bees and other pollinators.

Santa’s Workshop

San Antonio Zoo Lights

No holiday celebration is complete without the obligatory pictures with Santa. Hop aboard Santa’s sleigh for a photo commemorating your exciting visit to the zoo. Guests can either wait in line or skip the line by booking online. Photo packages start at $36.95.

Tasty Treats

San Antonio Zoo Lights

Hot cocoa and Christmas cookies abound during the holidays at SA Zoo Lights. Guests can also crowd around the Zoo Lights campfire to roast up delicious, gooey s’mores to enjoy. The Beastro Restaurant is also open and will be serving typical theme park food for purchase such as pizza and burgers.

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