Philadelphia Zoo’s LumiNature Returns to Light Up the Holidays

Nighttime spectacle returns to the zoo this season.

LumiNature finale / Photograph by Laura Swartz

The zoo’s holiday lights are back for the season. More than a million lights, to be more precise, turn the Philadelphia Zoo into LumiNature when night falls.

Walk through 14 glowing nature-themed installations including an ocean realm, a 40-foot-tall penguin light show, a 25-foot pink tree made of lawn flamingos, a giant glowing snake and more.

Snake at LumiNature / Photograph courtesy of Philadelphia Zoo

The entrance sets the tone with a giant butterfly tree and winged illuminated performers. Then, new for this year, the kiddie train has moved to the Impala Fountain area (rides are $4). You’ll also find stands selling snacks and light-up wands on the plaza.

Flamingo tree at at Philadelphia Zoo’s LumiNature / Photograph by Laura Swartz

Also available for purchase throughout the zoo: food, treats and adult beverages. You’ll find stands around the zoo selling winter essentials like hot cocoa and cider (regular and spiked) as well as fire pits with s’mores kits. And the Urban Green stays open with food trucks and warming lamps.

Ocean tunnel at LumiNature / Photograph by Winnie Chung

New for this year, the Penguin Prismatic show on Bird Lake features a giant light-up penguin with music and projections, including some Philly-specific images — in a fun surprise moment, the Liberty Bell, Rocky and the LOVE statue appear while Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom” plays.

You’ll find another new light show at the end. The musical grand finale “Animale Fantasia” shines animal animations and film clips onto cave-like screens in a field of lights and illuminated creatures.

In between, you’ll walk through a sea tunnel, trees cascading with rainbow jellyfish, a projection-mapped savannah, and more fun animal-themed surprises. I say “animal-themed” because you won’t see actual animals. It’s too dark, and most of them are sleeping, so be prepared for that. (And prepare your kids so they aren’t confused or disappointed when “going to the zoo” doesn’t lead to live animal encounters.)

LumiNature runs from November 17, 2022 through January 7, 2023 at the Philadelphia Zoo (3400 West Girard Avenue). It runs nightly from 5 to 10 p.m., with entry in half-hour intervals from 5 to 8 p.m. (Once you are in, you can stay as long as you want.) Advance timed tickets are required. Prices vary by visit date; tickets for adults (ages 12 and up) are $25 to $28, children ages 11 and under are $20 to $23, and children under two are free. Zoo members get discounts and free parking.