Holiday Light Show Reviews

December 22, 2021

Holiday Magic lights up Brookfield Zoo

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Bear sculpture featured at Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic Experience (Rauf/LION).

Twinkling lights, loud holiday music, and tall, bright animal sculptures greet you as you enter the Brookfield Zoo for a Holiday Magic night. From 3-9 p.m. on special dates found on the Brookfield Zoo’s website, holiday lights and decorations are lit around the park. Not only does the zoo offer this beautiful visual, but there are also food and refreshments in numerous locations, seasonal gifts sold at the gift shops, a skating rink, gnomes hidden around the park, and much more. Those interested in the event are advised to make all of their purchases and reservations beforehand. At $24.95 per adult ticket, and an additional $13.39 parking fee, admission to see the lights comes at a hefty price, especially compared to the Lincoln Park ZooLights. Still, the price is worth it, considering what Brookfield has to offer. 

Most of the animal buildings are open for people to go through, with many of the animals still out for you to look at. I was able to revisit many of my childhood favorites, including the Swamp and the Tropic House. 

Of course, no zoo visit in Illinois would be complete without the purchase of a Mold-A-Rama (wax animal figurines). I had to try the hot chocolate, which was probably the least amusing part of the park. For $5, a cup of this was quite watered down, and there was no whipped cream or marshmallows to accompany it. However, the lack of a quality hot chocolate did not prevent me from enjoying the Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic experience. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip down memory lane. I recommend this visit to anyone who loves seeing festive lights this time of year, or is looking to feel nostalgic while getting into the holiday spirit. 

4.5/5 paws

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ZooLights at Lincoln Park welcome holidays

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Decorative lights displayed at entrance to Lincoln Park Zoo (Rauf/LION).

Walking into the Lincoln Park ZooLights, I experienced the Christmas music set to light displays, lights in the shape of monkeys, owls, and even the Cheshire Cat dangling from the trees. From the moment you walk into the zoo, you are immersed in a festive environment. The zoo was teeming with lights on every exhibit, tree, and building. With many of the ZooLights centered around animals, it was fun to see a giant lit-up dragon and a lit-up swimming seal animation.

While it’s worth visiting to see the lights, don’t expect to see as many animals as Brookfield Zoo, since the Lincoln Park Zoo is a smaller zoo with fewer animal exhibits, and the lights aren’t open until it’s dark out, so most animals are asleep. For me, the lack of animals was the most underwhelming part of the ZooLights. Even despite the lack of animals and smaller zoo, you still get a great light show for the price. While I enjoyed the ZooLights with the multi-colored trees set against the backdrop of the city, it is a longer drive with more traffic than the drive to Brookfield Zoo.

The Lincoln Park ZooLights run from Nov. 19 to Jan. 2, with free admission on Mondays and Tuesdays, and $5 tickets Wednesday through Sunday. The low prices are good for families that want to keep costs down, but still get a high quality light experience. Parking on the street near the zoo is free, but it may be difficult to find parking at certain times of the day; however, there is a zoo parking lot with prices ranging from $20 to $35. 

I would highly recommend going to the Lincoln Park ZooLights for beautiful holiday lights at a low cost. 

4.5/5 paws

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