Get ready for more lights, more sights, more oohs, and more aahs at Brookfield Zoo's 29th annual Holiday Magic, presented by ComEd. This year's Holiday Magic-Chicagoland's largest lights festival-has some new features for all to enjoy amid a million twinkling lights. There will be live entertainment, new light displays, amazing animals, model trains and a train ride, a special Dolphin Show, singing to the animals, professional ice carvers, and much more! Holiday Magic takes place on December 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, and 26-31 and January 1, an additional day, from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m.
During the 13 enchanted evenings, guests can bundle up and stroll the walkways to see more than 120 new animated light displays on the zoo's malls, including a 35-foot Abominable Snowman, gingerbread men tumbling and jumping on a trampoline, a toyland, snowmen, dolphins and other sea creatures, giraffes, tigers, penguins, lions, and wolves to name a few. Families can also enjoy the hundreds of community trees decorated with handcrafted ornaments and watch the Dancing Lights Show that will run continuously around Roosevelt Fountain each night, following the opening ceremony that will take place on December 4 at 6:00 p.m.
More exhibits-including the zoo's newest, Great Bear Wilderness-will be open at this year's festival for viewing favorite animals, and there will be a special 6:30 p.m. Dolphin Show each night (separate admission applies). Additional exhibits open are The Swamp, The Living Coast, The Fragile Kingdom, Australia House, the big cats walkway, Baboon Island, Seven Seas Underwater Viewing, Feathers and Scales, Tropic World (open until 7:30 p.m. on all evenings except December 28 and 30), Hamill Family Play Zoo, and Children's Zoo. While at Children's Zoo, guests can stop by the Big Barn to have their photos taken with one of the animals, including a reindeer.
In the spacious Holly Jolly Theater, located in the Swan Pavilion, zoogoers can warm up and listen to storytelling by local celebrities and watch other live entertainment featuring local dance troupes, choirs, and musicians. Next to the Holly Jolly Theater, youngsters can take a train ride aboard the Great Chicago Kiddie Express. And, the Riverside Room, train enthusiasts of all ages can view a 41-foot by 25-foot model railroad display with a toyland theme that can simultaneously run up to 13 trains.
At the zoo's Nature Stage, guests will be captivated watching professional sculptors carve 400-pounds blocks of ice into beautiful works of frozen art courtesy of Lang Ice. Or they can be mesmerized by the magical antics of Terry Murphy and Matt Scherer, who will perform mystifying tricks at Safari Grill and the Bison Pavilion, respectively.
Youngsters-whether they have been naughty or nice-can share their wish lists with Santa and Mrs. Claus (through December 19 only). On the North Mall, costumed animal characters will be on hand greeting guests. Also joining in the festivities during select hours on December 18 only will be the Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan decorated with 25,000 red and white lights. While at the zoo, the illuminated 18-wheel semi truck will feature photo opportunities with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear costumed character.
The Canterbury Carolers, a Victorian ensemble who will perform a glorious arrangement of traditional tunes, will have guests spreading holiday cheer during nightly singing to the animals. Serenading takes place with lions and tigers at 5:30 p.m., farm animals in Children's Zoo at 6:30 p.m., and bison and bears at 7:30 p.m.
Families can ring in the New Year early during a special Zoo Year's Eve celebration on December 31. At 6:00 p.m., Radio Disney's Road Crew will crank up the festivities with music, games, and prizes in the Holly Jolly Theater and then will lead an early countdown at 8:00 p.m. In addition, there will be an early countdown in Hamill Family Play Zoo geared toward families with young children ages 6 and under. Prior to the countdown, kids can make their own noisemaker and join in the Play Zoo parades at 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
In addition, the zoo's gift shops will be open for those who want to do some holiday shopping, and restaurants and food stands will be open for guests who work up an appetite or desire holiday treats such as cookies, hot chocolate, hot cider, cappuccino, and soup.
During Holiday Magic, guests should park in Brookfield Zoo's main parking lot (First Avenue and 31st Street). Activities are free (with the exception of rides and photo opportunities) with paid admission of $13.50 for adults and $9.50 for children ages 3-11 and seniors 65 and older. Children 2 and under are free. Car parking is $9; bus parking is $12.
Holiday Magic is sponsored by ComEd and American Airlines. For up-to-date information on scheduled entertainment and activities, go online tohttp://www.czs.org/events or call (708) 688-8000. Guests will also receive a schedule of events when they arrive. The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, inspires conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. Open every day of the year, Brookfield Zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service.