by Sarah Slayman, correspondent
Starting in late November, there is more to enjoy at the Lincoln Park Zoo than just the wildlife. At that time, the park invites friends and families to enjoy their annual ZooLights, when the park is illuminated by more than 2 million lights that cover each bend of the zoo grounds for a few months during the winter season.
Though the lights themselves are a treat, Lincoln Park Zoo also provides several more family-friendly activities for multiple age groups. Each year, thousands from the Chicago area come to experience the musical light shows, photos with Santa, free holiday crafts, animal encounters, 3D displays, live nightly ice carving and the Lionel train adventure that takes you on a ride throughout the zoo for $3 per person.
One of the more popular activities offered by the zoo is the ice skating rink, which charges $5 for admission, and an additional $5 for skates if you choose not to bring your own. Additionally, on New Year’s Eve, while supplies last, festive hats, horns and party favors are distributed to visitors from 4:30 p.m. until 9 p.m.
The Lincoln Park Zoo also provides an opportunity for individuals to give back through the ZooLights Coat Drive, an event happening exclusively during the holiday season. Each night, the zoo will gather new and gently used winter clothing. The items will be distributed to Chicago charities, helping provide for those in need. Donation boxes will be located in Gateway Pavilion and Park Place Cafe.
The zoo itself is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the lights are on every day starting at 4:30 p.m. and lasting until 9 p.m. The festivities begin on the weekend of Nov. 25, Friday through Sunday exclusively, as well as the weekend of Dec. 2. Subsequently the festivities will be available Dec. 9-23, 26-31 and Jan. 1. The lights are open from the 9th until New Year’s Day, excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Lincoln Park Zoo is at 2001 N. Clark St.