25 Years of Magic

Posted on November 19

Calgary, AB – The most wonderful time of the year is here! Calgary’s favourite holiday tradition, ZOOLIGHTS, presented by Olympia Trust Company, is back for its 25th year – starting tonight!

From November 19, 2021 to January 2, 2022, the zoo’s award-winning, magical holiday tradition will be glowing for 6-weeks of festive family-friendly fun. Visitors can enjoy all the magic of the season while supporting wildlife conservation — it’s a win-win! 

“We are excited to welcome the community to the 25th anniversary of ZOOLIGHTS! Calgary’s favourite holiday tradition is celebrating its past, while also bringing you some bigger and brighter experiences to make this year even more memorable - like ‘Dinos in the Dark’ in Prehistoric Park, a sparkly salute to the classic Nutcracker story in the ENMAX Conservatory, and in Exploration Asia you’ll find a beautiful display we call ‘Wild Lights’ which pays homage to some of the threatened species that the Wilder Institute and the Calgary Zoo are working together to save,” said Alison Archambault, Director of Brand & Engagement. “We’re also hosting a ZOOLIGHTS Market where our visitors can purchase eco-friendly, sustainable or nature inspired products handmade by local artisans. In these challenging times, being there for our neighbours and supporting local has never been more important. We can’t wait to see everyone enjoy the magic of the holiday season, while also supporting wildlife conservation.”

Event Details:

  • November 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022 (some exclusions apply;)
  • Nightly from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Exclusion Dates:

The following dates are excluded from regular ZOOLIGHTS admission:

  • November 23: Adults Only Night (18+) - separate admission ticket required*.
  • November 28: Private Corporate event (closed to the public)
  • November 30: Private Corporate event (closed to the public)
  • December 3: Private Corporate event (closed to the public)
  • December 25: the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo is closed
  • December 31: Zoo Year's Eve (Family-friendly) - separate admission ticket required*.

*Please note that regular ZOOLIGHTS admission tickets, zoo passes or complimentary tickets will not be accepted for admission to the Adults Only Night (Nov 23) or Zoo Year’s Eve (Dec 31). Visit www.CalgaryZoo.com/ZOOLIGHTS for more details.

Along with all the classic activities that visitors have come to love, such as the skating rink, fire pits, visits with Santa (to Dec 23rd only), and Rival Axe Throwing, several new themed areas and activities have been added to make this year even more memorable:

  • Dinos in the Dark: For the first time ever, the zoo’s Prehistoric Park will be a part of ZOOLIGHTS! In this new themed area, visitors will be transported on a mission to help save species before the volcano erupts.
  • Tunnel of Light: Experience a ZOOLIGHTS favourite in a new way. The new Tunnel of Light will be an immersive and interactive experience, as the lights move with you.
  • The Nutcracker Experience: Step into the ENMAX Conservatory and be transported into the Nutcracker suite! This year’s experience is a sparkly salute to the classic Nutcracker story. Take your traditional family photos on a wintery sleigh, next to giant nutcrackers or near a ballerina made entirely of flowers!
  • The Chocolate Bar: Treat yourself to one of the zoo’s signature gourmet hot chocolate creations!
  • Memory Lane: Celebrate memories of the past and make memories for the future in the outdoor gardens. A 25th anniversary photo collage will remind you of the history of ZOOLIGHTS.
  • Wild Lights: Head down to Exploration Asia and take a stroll through Wild Lights! A new themed section which pays homage to some of the Threatened species that the Wilder Institute and the Calgary Zoo are working together to secure a flourishing future for.
  • ZOOLIGHTS Market: Grab a mulled wine and support local artisans at the ZOOLIGHTS Market. All vendors are either sustainable, recycled or celebrating nature. ZOOLIGHTS Market runs Dec 6-8 only.
  • Sensory Experience: This year, everyone will be able to enjoy the magic of ZOOLIGHTS in a way that works best for them. Sensory sensitive guests can access a Sensory Bag (free rental) with supplies to help improve their ZOOLIGHTS experience. These bags include headphones, fidget spinner, and more. The zoo has added more on park signage ahead of flashing/moving lights and sounds so that sensory sensitive guests are not caught off guard. Visitors can download a ZOOLIGHTS: Sensory Experience map to help plan their best route in advance so they can get the most out of their ZOOLIGHTS experience. 

In honour of its 25th anniversary, the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo is spreading some extra cheer at ZOOLIGHTS this year with the addition of several ZOOLIGHTS: Special Nights and events, including:

  • November 23 – ZOOLIGHTS: Adults Night Out (18+): Leave the kiddos at home and enjoy a special ZOOLIGHTS evening for adults only (18+)! Enjoy all of the magic of ZOOLIGHTS plus adult beverages, hot food samplings, and additional activities.
  • December 16 – A Beary Merry Holiday Party (18+): Designed for small groups, this holiday party is the perfect way for you and your small business team, clients, group of friends, or family to toast the season in a fun, festive, and zoo-nique way. Enjoy the live music, dance or head outside for an evening stroll and take in all of the magical sights that ZOOLIGHTS has to offer. It’s a holiday party to remember.
  • December 31 – ZOOLIGHTS: Zoo Year’s Eve (Family-friendly): Celebrate the last night of the year with the best and brightest backdrop in the city - ZOOLIGHTS! You'll be able to enjoy all the fun of ZOOLIGHTS with extra special activities added to help you ring in the new year - including numerous countdowns so your little ones don't have to stay up too late to partake in the fun!

ZOOLIGHTS Special Nights and events are separately ticketed events. Visit the zoo’s webpage for additional details.

For companies looking for a festive way to celebrate with staff, the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo has created special experience packages to help corporations and groups provide some cheer after a challenging year! With customizable options for food, beverages and gifts, it’s the most magical way to wish your staff the best of the season. Contact [email protected] for more information or to reserve your package.

All ZOOLIGHTS and ZOOLIGHTS Special Nights experiences require attendees to be aware that in order to enter the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo, visitors 12 years of age and older will be required to provide proof of one of the following before being permitted entry:

  • Alberta government-issued QR code (paper or digital) proving COVID-19 double vaccination (with the second dose received two (2) weeks or more prior to date of attendance);
    • Valid identification that matches the vaccine record is required for adults 18 years and over.
    • First Nation, out-of-province and Canadian Armed Forces vaccine records are accepted proofs of vaccination, as is the ArriveCan app and valid international travel identity document; or
  • Proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken within the previous 72 hours prior to entrance (either PCR or Rapid Test); or
  • Valid proof of medical exemption.

Those who are unable to show proof of one of the items listed above will be denied entry. This applies to all visitors aged 12 years and older. In addition, mask wear is mandatory for all visitors aged 2+ inside all Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo buildings (including animal habitats, indoor dining, washrooms, and retail shops) in accordance with the provincial and AHS guidelines.

Tickets are on sale now. To see all that ZOOLIGHTS has in store this year or to purchase tickets online, visit www.calgaryzoo.com.

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For more information contact |
Alison Archambault
Director, Brand & Engagement
Phone: 403.232.7766 | 403.919.9482 | [email protected]

For more than 30-years, the Calgary Zoo has led critical wildlife conservation work through the Calgary Zoo, its rural Wildlife Conservation Breeding Centre, as well as across Canada and around the world. The zoo is internationally recognized for world-class animal care and habitat design practices and takes pride in inspiring and educating generations of visitors about the importance of biodiversity and conservation during visits. As the Calgary Zoo continues its journey to be Canada’s leader in wildlife conservation, we are pleased to introduce the world to the Wilder Institute.   

The Wilder Institute is the rebranded Calgary Zoo Foundation and oversees the Calgary Zoo’s conservation portfolio, locally and globally. Together, we will continue to be a force of nature for making the world a wilder place. The staff and volunteers of Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo are passionate about restoring balance to wildlife and human life, together. As visitors discover the rare and endangered species that we love and care for at our facilities, they are directly contributing through admission and on-grounds sales to a not-for-profit charitable conservation organization that works to fight extinction of plants and animals worldwide. Learn more at WilderInstitute.org and CalgaryZoo.com.