Zoo lights

More than 1.5 million brightly colored lights transform the Oregon Zoo into a walk-through winter wonderland during ZooLights, opening Nov. 22. 

A Northwest holiday tradition is back. ZooLights, presented by U.S. Bank, opens Nov. 22 at the Oregon Zoo, showcasing a winter wonderland of more than 1.5 million brightly colored lights.

This year, there are two ways to illuminate the season: ZooLights’ traditional walk-through experience makes a much-anticipated return, and the zoo has also set aside a dozen midweek evenings for a drive-through experience similar to last year’s.

The drive-through option may better accommodate people with different physical abilities, according to guest services manager Ivan Ratcliff, and it may be a more comfortable choice for some during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For tickets and additional info, visit oregonzoo.org/zoolights.

“Everything’s been adapting to change these past couple of years, and ZooLights is no exception,” Ratcliff said. “We’ve put a lot of measures into place to help make this holiday tradition safe, accessible and fun for everyone.”

Before the official opening, on Nov. 19–20, the zoo will host a ZooLights experience just for the 21-and-over crowd with beer, live music and the Unipiper. 

“If you’ve ever wondered what ZooLights would be like without the kids, this is for you,” Ratcliff said.

To help ensure a safe experience for all, the following measures will be in place during this year’s ZooLights:

Timed ticketing/limited attendance: All guests, including members, must reserve their ZooLights tickets in advance via the zoo website.

Masks/face coverings: Face masks are required for all walk-through guests 5 years and older. Drive-through guests do not need to wear masks while inside their vehicles. Masks are required, however, during check-in and other interactions with ZooLights staff.

Reduced contact: Guests follow a one-way, open-air path; physical distancing reminders are placed throughout the zoo. Most indoor areas will remain closed, and all transactions are cashless.

ZooLights is a special event and is not included with regular daytime admission. To prepare grounds for the drive-through experience, the zoo will remain closed during regular daytime hours on Tuesdays through Thursdays beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 23 (except during Portland Public Schools’ winter break). This temporary daytime schedule will continue through Feb. 17, allowing the zoo to conduct maintenance work during some of its lightest attended days of the year.

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