Scuba-diving Santa returns; iconic Flame Tree will glow; and a Giant Pacific Octopus covers aquarium roof Nov. 23-Jan. 1 as half-a-million lights color holiday season nights

Tacoma, Wash. – It’s been one of a kind since 1987. And Zoolights, a Tacoma treasure and holiday tradition, returns for its 25th anniversary year Nov. 23 through Jan. 1 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Hours are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly, except for a one-night closure on Dec. 24.

Discounted tickets are now available online at They’ll go on sale Thursday at all Puget Sound area Fred Meyer stores.

Zoolights crews began installing more than half-a-million energy-efficient LED lights around zoo grounds at the beginning of October. Many longtime favorites, like the iconic green-and-purple Flame Tree and the twin Tacoma Narrows bridges are back. And there’s a huge new display: A 100-foot Giant Pacific Octopus atop the North Pacific Aquarium.

In addition, the very popular Scuba-diving Santa will make a return visit to Zoolights this year. He’ll be in the aquarium, swimming with sharks, every Tuesday and Wednesday night [except Dec. 25 and Jan. 1] during the Zoolights run.

There will be camel and carousel rides, and the zoo’s two tiger cubs, Berani and Dumai, will be on exhibit.

Discounted tickets are available online now: $7.25 per person general admission. The price for zoo members is $4.25 per person. Discounted general admission tickets, also $7.25 per person, will go on sale at all Puget Sound area Fred Meyer stores beginning Thursday.

At-the-gate general admission tickets will cost $8.50 per person. There is no admission charge for children 2 and under. Parking is free.

Zoolights is presented by Fred Meyer with support from Russell Investments, Tacoma Power and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital + Health Center. 


Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the Northwest’s only combined zoo and aquarium, promotes responsible stewardship of the world’s resources through education, conservation, research and recreational opportunities. The zoo, a division of Metro Parks Tacoma, is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums [AZA] and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums [AMMPA].