NOTE: USA Today is asking its readers to rank the nation's best Zoo Lights displays. The National Zoo's lighting display is currently #16 out of 20 in USA Today's readers' choice awards. Voting is open through noon Dec. 21.
It's time for ZooLights, the Smithsonian National Zoo's famous celebration of the holidays and animals!
ZooLights will be open Nov. 27 through Jan. 2 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., except for Dec. 24, 25 and 31. Admission is free.
During ZooLights, more than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights transform the zoo into a winter wonderland after dark.
You also can take pictures with the popular Panda Claws, plunge down 150-foot-long snow-tubing tracks and warm your spirit with hot chocolate (spiked for the parents), eggnog, kettle corn, and more.
This year, the Zoo is debuting BrewLights, a ticketed microbrew and craft beer event. On Dec. 3, guests 21 and over can also sample food from top D.C. restaurants.
On Date Night, Dec. 10, couples can enjoy a private, VIP reception area at the Elephant House, with exclusive elephant viewing. Guests can enjoy wine, craft beer, hot chocolate, hors d'oeuvres, and a chocolate bar.
A special Military Night will be held Dec. 11. Guests who show a valid military ID will receive 10 percent off all gift shop items. Military families will also receive free hot chocolate, cookies and two free snow-tubing passes.
And Friends of the National Zoo members enjoy a full week of exclusive perks at ZooLights from Dec. 4 through 10.
Proceeds support the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute – including species preservation and animal care.
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