Wildlights brightens up the season

One of Central Ohio’s longest-running holiday events kicks off the season this week.

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium begins its 29th year Nov. 17, illuminating the venue with millions of LED lights through Jan. 1.

Again this year, animated light shows will brighten Conservation Lake and Shores Park. The Sparkling Spruce light-and-sound show will take place in Polar Frontier.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet visitors through Dec. 23. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Bumble will be available for meet-and-greets, and in a 4-D theater show. And visitors can take holiday-themed rides on the carousel and train. Camel rides also will be offered. 

Wildlights takes place 5-9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 5-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It is included with zoo admission, though some rides and activities may have a fee.

This year, there are two opportunities to experience Wildlights for free:

Visitors can get free parking and admission Nov. 17 by donating five nonperishable food items to Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Last year, 103,590 pounds of food were donated during the Stuff the Truck food drive. Guests who donate an item from the zoo’s wish list on the event page will get in free Dec. 9. That’s also the date of Jack Hanna’s Home for the Holidays shows featuring Santa Paws.

For more information, go to the zoo’s event calendar.