The Zoo Is Creating a New Winter Light Show

It will be an enchanted event under the stars.

Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Zoo

The Milwaukee County Zoo will be illuminated this upcoming holiday season with millions of twinkling lights situated throughout forests and pathways. The new Wild Lights, Wild Dreams experience will run Dec. 1-5, 8-12, 15-23 and 26-31, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. 

Bright colors and shining lights will greet guests walking along a one-mile path filled with animal-themed light displays and decorations. Stroll through the Zoo’s very own snow globe, and take in these glowing displays:

  • Polar Point: You’re invited to step into a dream, as the wild night of lights starts.
  • Flamingle all the Way: Flock together with friends and family down Flamingo Way past a flamboyance of lit flamingos.
  • Jungle Bells: Enter the world of apes and primates and dream of a faraway place where these agile creatures swing from the trees.
  • FantaSEA: Dream of unknown places as you swim through this underwater adventure of sea creatures.
  • aROARa: Walk under the dancing waves of lights of the aurora borealis.
  • Winter Woodland: Wander and weave through the evergreen forest and northern woodlands.
  • ROARchestration: This kaleidoscopic landscape celebrates all the beauty of nature and the living things that share the earth. Celebrate with a light show every 10 minutes.
  • ButterFLIGHT: As the night sky settles, some of earth’s smallest creatures twinkle in the sky and fireflies and butterflies light the way.
  • Horizon + Starry Safari: As the sun rises over the horizon, create new dreams for a new day before imagining a Starry Safari adventure celebrating the zoo’s animals.
  • Vibrance: The ribbons of colors experienced along the way come together in this magical immersion of light.

There will also be festive food and drinks, winter woodland rides on the North Shore Bank Safari Train and opportunities to get on the Penzeys Carousel. The zoo will be collecting donations of working and non-working lights for recycling as part of Wild Lights for Wildlife. Proceeds support Wisconsin’s Endangered Resources Fund, plus it keeps the lights out of landfills.

For their health and safety, animals are not viewable during Wild Lights.

Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Zoo

Tickets are now available online or at the Zoo on the night of your choice. Admission at the gate is $20 for adults, $18 for children ages 3 to 12 and free for children 2 and under. You can save $2 with online admission and Zoological Society members with a card receive a $2 discount. Watch the zoo’s social media platforms for opportunities to win tickets to Wild Lights and special prizes by sharing photos from the experience using #WildLightsMKEZoo. 

Admission gates close at 8:45 p.m. On Dec. 9, visitors 21 and older can enjoy a unique experience with entertainment, special spirits and food offerings available for purchase.

For visitors’ continued safety, masking and physical distancing is required inside all zoo buildings. Masks are not required outside. Hand-sanitizer stations will be located throughout the park, including entry and exit areas, restrooms and concessions.



Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.