IllumiNights at the Zoo

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IllumiNights: A Chinese Lantern Festival

Thanks to our 2023 event sponsors! Presented by Georgia Power, supported by Beacon Sponsor SouthState Bank with additional support from Kaiser Permanente

Experience the magic of Atlanta holiday lights!

Atlanta’s cherished holiday tradition is back, showcasing vistas of brilliantly illuminated wildlife and captivating sights that celebrate the wonders of nature. This year, we’re introducing new lanterns and experiences, transforming the Zoo into a nighttime wonderland.

Looking for things to do in Atlanta this holiday season? This holiday lights event is your answer. Whether you’re making memories with family, looking to impress on a date night, or enjoying a night out with friends, your holidays glow in the splendors of nature. Enjoy a mile-long stroll of stunning contemplation of the wildlife of our planet and creatures of our imagination, from luminous leopards to a towering fiery phoenix. There are lanterns around every corner of the Zoo this holiday season.

Warm up with hot cocoa (signature holiday spirits available for ages 21 and up!). Make merry with a marshmallow roast by the fire. And around every corner, find photo ops sure to sparkle on your social.

While most animals go indoors for the night, a select few species who typically spend time in their habitats after dark may be visible. These may include giant pandas (indoor dayroom habitats), Chilean flamingos, and Huacaya alpacas.

General Admission Tickets

Adult (12+) $20.99 – $24.99
Child (3-11) $17.99 – $19.99
Child 2 & Under FREE
Senior (65+) $17.99 – $21.99
Group Tickets* $16.99 – $18.99

Member Tickets

Adult (12+) $16.99 – $20.99
Child (3-11) $14.99 – $16.99
Child 2 & Under FREE
*Groups of 15 or more receive our discounted group rate. One person must pay for the entire party and the group is required to enter the Zoo together. Refunds cannot be given for guests who do not attend.
Due to limited capacity, we strongly recommend tickets be purchased in advance online. If you have a promo code, please enter it at checkout.

Elf Power

A Magical Festive Adventure!

Join Santa’s elves on a magical virtual reality journey, as you fly with reindeer and help deliver the magic of the holidays! This experience is new and is exclusive only to IllumiNights guests. Purchase as an add-on with your tickets today or at the gate when you arrive.  

View the trailer

Food and Beverage Locations

Warm beverages and tasty treats

Explore a variety of dining options throughout the Zoo, whether you’re in the mood for a hearty meal, light snack, or sweet treat. 21 and up or 21 months old, we’ve got everybody covered! 

Thank you to our sponsors last year:

IllumiNights at the Zoo is presented by

Georgia Power logo     

beacon sponsor

SouthState logo

with additional support from

Kaiser Permanente logo

Know Before You Glow FAQs


What to expect on your visit to IllumiNights at the Zoo

Is this an animal experience?
The lanterns are the Zoo wildlife tonight! While most animals go indoors for the night, a select few species who typically spend time in their habitats after dark may be visible. These may include giant pandas (indoor dayroom habitats), Chilean flamingos, and Huacaya alpacas.

What about rain?
This is a rain-or-shine event. The lanterns will glow beautifully no matter what the weather. In the event of rain, please bring the appropriate gear. A limited number of ponchos and other items will be available in the Zoo Atlanta Explorer Store.

As safety is our number-one priority, in the event weather conditions are assessed to be a safety hazard, Zoo Atlanta reserves the right to close or cancel the event. In the event of severe weather, check your email for pertinent updates.

If I’m visiting the Zoo during the day, will I need to leave and come back, or can I stay in the Zoo? IllumiNights is a separate ticketed event, so all daytime Members and guests will be asked to leave the Zoo by 5 p.m. so we can set up for the evening. You may then reenter using your IllumiNights ticket at your designated reservation time.  

Is this a family-friendly event? Abso-lightly! IllumiNights is for everyone, from families to dates to girls’ nights out.

Will food and beverages be available for purchase? Yes, select concession locations will be available throughout the Zoo with festival-inspired beverages, snacks, and meals. View the menus and locations to plan your visit.

Will rides and attractions be open? The Endangered Species Carousel will be open during IllumiNights. Elf Power, Inc., the VR Theater Experience, will be available exclusively during IllumiNights! Get into the holiday spirit as you take a seat in our all-new Gorilla Trek VR Theater for a special virtual experience you’ll find only at this event. Fly past snow-capped mountains in search of a child who needs to believe again. You never know who you’ll meet, thanks to your Elf Power!

Where do I park? Paid public parking is available in the Cherokee Avenue lot (flat rate of $6 during IllumiNights) and in the Grant Park Gateway parking facility on Boulevard. Lots are patrolled, but please leave valuable items at home or secure them out of view.

Who can I contact with general questions about IllumiNights? You may contact us at 404.624.5937.

Can I get a refund or exchange my ticket for another date? Sorry, we cannot exchange or refund IllumiNights tickets.  

The date I want is sold out/Can I get tickets at the Zoo on the night of the event? Because of limited capacity, we strongly recommend purchasing tickets online in advance. If a night is sold out, tickets will not be available at the Zoo.  

I purchased a daytime general admission ticket. Can I use it for IllumiNights? IllumiNights is a separate ticketed event. Daytime general admission tickets do not provide access to the event.  

Are Zoo Atlanta Members required to purchase tickets? Members must purchase tickets through the Zoo Atlanta website and will receive a Member discount. Members who have recently purchased a new Membership or have recently renewed an existing Membership should contact Member Services at 404.624.5662 or for assistance.  

Do children 2 and under get in free like regular Zoo admission? Yes, children and under are free. Ages 3 and up require a ticket.  

Do I need to print my tickets if I purchase online? Not necessarily, but please note that some phones (for example, those with cracked or broken screens) and saved PDFs of the tickets present scanning challenges. Please do not screen capture your tickets as they will not scan.  

I bought my ticket(s) online but did not receive a confirmation email/ticket. What do I do? An email confirming your purchase should arrive within 15 minutes of payment. You may need to add to your safe list. Please check your Junk/Spam folders. If you entered an invalid or misspelled email during your purchase, the payment would appear on your credit card, but your tickets will not be delivered. Please email with the name the tickets were purchased under, the correct email address, and the last four digits of the credit card used to make the purchase, and we will resend your tickets.  

Can I rent a stroller at IllumiNights? Yes. Single and double strollers are available for rental at Safari Outfitters in Flamingo Plaza. Single stroller rentals are $11 plus tax; double stroller rentals are $13 plus tax. You must present a valid photo ID.  

Can I rent a wheelchair or electric scooter at IllumiNights? Yes. Rentals are in Flamingo Plaza at the Zoo Atlanta Explorer Store. Manual wheelchair rentals are $14 plus tax (must present a valid photo ID). Electric scooter rentals are $33 plus tax (driver’s license required; must be 18 years or older).  

Can I touch the lanterns? No. The lanterns are meant to be viewed, not touched. They are hand-crafted and delicately made. Please do not touch, climb, cross, or lean on the lanterns or the barriers protecting them. We will have some lanterns without barriers that will allow guests to approach more closely.  

How long is the walking route? The route takes about one hour to walk through and is a wheelchair-friendly path.  

Will we be lighting and releasing lanterns? No. The lanterns are illuminated with LED bulbs and will stay firmly on the ground.  

Can I take photos? Please do! And if you do, we’d love to see them. Share to your social media networks and be sure to tag Zoo Atlanta and use hashtags #OnlyZooATL and #IllumiNights. Please be considerate of others by not blocking pathways while waiting for that perfect shot.  

Are the lanterns epileptic-friendly? Some lantern displays feature flashing lights and may trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy.  


Each of the more than 100 lanterns is painstakingly crafted and hand-painted by Chinese artisans, representing thousands of hours of work, and each features environmentally friendly LED lights. Join us and be a part of this Atlanta holiday lights phenomenon this holiday season!

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl