Washington D.C.’s beloved free, family-friendly winter wonderland, ZooLights returns to brighten the season at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo .

The Zoo will be illuminated through Dec. 30 from 5 to 9 p.m.—with brightly colored environmentally friendly LED lights and various 3D glowing animal lanterns. An immersive and dynamic experience, ZooLights is one of the only free holiday light festivals in the region. 

While admission to ZooLights is free, event entry-pass reservations are required and are separate from daytime Zoo entry passes. ZooLights free-entry passes and paid parking passes will be released on a rolling basis, starting two weeks prior to the event night. For example, entry passes for Friday, Dec. 2, can be reserved starting Friday, Nov. 18, along with $30 parking passes. Everyone attending ZooLights, including Smithsonian National Zoo Members, must have ZooLights-specific entry and parking passes. All proceeds from ZooLights concessions and parking sales benefit animal care and conservation science at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

ZooLights visitors can get further into the holiday spirit with live music performances by local artists and school groups. Performances will take place at the Great Meadow at 6 and 7 p.m. on select evenings. A comprehensive list of performers is available on the Zoo’s website.