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Glancer Magazine

BROOKFIELD | Holiday Magic® at Brookfield Zoo Celebrates 40 Years of Festive Fun


BROOKFIELD—Enjoy the festive season with family and friends at Brookfield Zoo’s 40th annual Holiday Magic®, presented by ComEd and Meijer. The event takes place on November 26-28 and December 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, and 26-31 from 3 to 9 p.m. (Brookfield Zoo will not open until 3 p.m. on Holiday Magic days.) Prior to arriving at the zoo for an evening filled with memorable moments, guests are required to secure advanced admission and parking tickets online at As Chicagoland’s longest-running lights festival, Holiday Magic® features over two million twinkling LED lights. Several new features have been added to this year’s event, including the “Sea of Lights.” Featuring more than two miles of colorful, sparkling lights, the zoo’s entire West Mall has been transformed into a magical creation of waves immersing guests in the holiday spirit. Adjacent to the spectacular display, guests can feel the season’s cheer while strolling through the 600-foot-long “Tunnel of Lights,” presented by Xfinity, synchronized to music.

Guests will be mesmerized as they look up at the zoo’s 41-foot-tall tree, which is back and better than ever. Located at the north entrance, the showstopping attraction is adorned with thousands of brilliantly colored LED lights and choreographed to seasonal tunes. Additionally, the walkways along the zoo’s malls and around Roosevelt Fountain shine with more than 700 community and corporate trees decorated with ornaments. And, larger-than-life illuminated animal sculptures, including a giraffe, bison, bear, and reindeer, add to the ambiance throughout the park. Also new this year, is a 3D 16-foot-tall gingerbread house, presented by T-Mobile, that guests can walk through and is the perfect backdrop for a family snapshot. Additional photo opportunities await inside the ever-popular luminous 20-foot-tall orb aglow with thousands of sparkling lights, a holiday-themed festive frame, and even a Santa Claus cutout.

Guests of all ages can play the Game of Gnomes, and embark on a fun-filled scavenger hunt in search of 25 enchanting locations. Each whimsical gnome measures between 12 to 20 inches high that can be found around the zoo. Several indoor and outdoor animal habitats, including Tropic World, Pachyderm House, Big Cats, Swamp, Feathers and Scales, Reptiles and Birds, Living Coast, Hamill Family Wild Encounters (reindeer and goats only), Seven Seas underwater viewing gallery, Great Bear Wilderness, Australia House (access to front section only), and Hamill Family Play Zoo, are open during Holiday Magic. All indoor animal buildings close at 8:30 p.m., with the exception of Tropic World and Hamill Family Play Zoo, which close at 8 p.m. In addition, Dolphins in Action presentations (extra fee applies) are at 4 and 6 p.m. each night of Holiday Magic®. Kids can deposit their written greetings and drawings for the animals in a designated box, as well as drop off letters to Santa Claus in a giant red box, both located on the zoo’s South Mall.

The fun doesn’t stop at holiday lights—guests can take a spin on the skating rink, located on the East Mall. The rink is made of synthetic plastic known as Glice®—a material composed of heat-pressed layers of polymers—so no water or electricity is required for operation. The cost for unlimited time for all skaters on the rink is $7. A limited number of skates are available to rent for a $5 fee. Skaters are welcome to bring their own skates. In addition, restaurants and food stands featuring holiday-themed fare are available to purchase, and gift shops offering unique gift ideas also are open for holiday shopping. Reservation times for Holiday Magic are available in 15-minute increments. Zoo admission and parking tickets, which must be reserved in advance at, are $24.95 for adults, $17.95 for children ages 3-11, and $19.95 for seniors 65 and over. Parking is $15. All tickets are nonrefundable.


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