Detroit Zoo - Wild Lights 2016

Wild Lights

November 18-20, 25-27; December 1-4, 8-11, 15-23, 26-31 5:30 to 9 p.m. $10 in advance - $13 at the gate

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29 nights beginning November 18, 2016

The Detroit Zoo will light up the night again this holiday season with Wild Lights, a spectacular light display. For 29 nights, more than five million LED lights will illuminate trees, buildings and more than 200 animal sculptures throughout the front half of the Zoo. Experience the magic of the Detroit Zoo in winter as you take in the lights and the sights and enjoy holiday entertainment and special activities for guests of all ages.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition in the Ford Education Center showcases brilliant photography and is included with admission. Carousel rides and photos with Santa Claus will be available for purchase.

Wild Lights will be held 5:30 to 9 p.m.

  • November 18-20, 25-27
  • December 1-4, 8-11, 15-23, 26-31.

Please note: The Holden Reptile Conservation Center, Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat and Jane and Frank Warchol Beaver Habitat will be open during Wild Lights; the remainder of the animal habitats and buildings will be closed, including the Polk Penguin Conservation Center.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D


A 10-minute adaptation of the beloved animated television classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will be featured at the Wild Adventure Zone 4-D Theater exclusively during Wild Lights.  This abbreviated version was recreated in traditional stop-motion puppet animation in partnership with SimEx-Iwerks and Bent Image Lab. Featured in high definition 3-D, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D is more visually brilliant than ever before while preserving the authenticity.

Wild Lights guests will recognize classic songs and dialogue brought to life by loveable, iconic characters – the Abominable Snow Monster, Hermey the elf, Santa Claus and, of course, “the most famous reindeer of all.”   Rudolph is a timeless holiday classic and we are excited to have it add to the magic that is Wild Lights.

Tickets will be $5/person ages 2 and up

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer © & ® or ™ The Rudolph Co., L.P. All elements under license to Character Arts, LLC. All rights reserved.

  • FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)


    The Zoo closes at 4 p.m. and reopens for Wild Lights at 5:30 p.m. Wild Lights runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

    How long does it take?

    The loop takes an average of an hour and a half to complete, including the 15-minute version of “Rudolph 4-D” at the Wild Adventure Zone in the Ford Education Center. Guests also enjoying the Carousel, crafts, Photos with Santa and more will have slightly longer visit times. Guests are welcome to walk the trail as many times as they would like.


    Advance tickets are recommended. Please arrive at your scheduled time according to your ticket. Wild Lights is a wildly popular event; guests should expect traffic and lines and plan arrival times accordingly.

    If you are having difficulty locating your online tickets, please be sure to check your junk/spam folder. If you are unable to print your tickets or have lost them, we can use your smartphone confirmation to look them up in the system.

    Sold Out Nights

    If advance tickets are sold out online, all Kroger stores in Michigan have a limited number of tickets available for sale in store only. Please purchase them there. Walk-up tickets will be sold at the Detroit Zoo on sold-out nights beginning at 8 p.m.


    Wild Lights is $10 in advance for all guests 2 years and older or $13 at the gate.

    Members and non-members must purchase tickets to Wild Lights.

    Membership allows for free admission and parking during daytime hours, Wild Summer Nights concerts and MemberFest. All other ticketed events are additional.


    $6 per car for Members and non-members.


    The Arctic Cafe is open during Wild Lights. Additional food and drink options are available along the trail. A limited number of alcoholic beverages are available for purchase.


    The pathway allows you to see the Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat, the Jane and Frank Warchol Beaver Habitat, and the Holden Reptile Conservation Center. All other animal habitats and buildings will be closed for the evening.

    Rudolph Package

    Wild Lights guests can purchase a package that includes admission to Wild Lights, admission to “Rudolph 4-D”, a pair of 3-D glasses that turn all of our LED lights into snowflakes or snowmen, and a red foam Rudolph nose for only $15/person ages 2 and older. Parking is an additional fee. These packages are date specific but not time specific and limited per evening.


    Wild Lights is held rain, snow or shine. Please come dressed for the weather and for walking outside.

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