Randolph the Reindeer and elves at ZooTampa Christmas in the Wild

Christmas in the Wild at ZooTampa is bigger and brighter in 2023!

The holiday season is here and ZooTampa is ready for its most festive and brightest Christmas in the Wild to date. Tampa’s premiere outdoor family holiday event will begin lighting up the nights on November 24 and continue twinkling for 19 select nights through December 30, 2023.

The Zoo has transformed into a holiday wonderland full of magic and cheer, with special animal connections and Signature Encounters, expanded light displays, festive entertainment, and delectable seasonal food and drinks.

Lighted Giraffe at ZooTampa Christmas in the Wild
Lighted Giraffe at ZooTampa Christmas in the Wild in the Africa Realm. Photo by Laura Byrne.

What’s NEW for Christmas in the Wild at ZooTampa 2023?

Every year, the creative team at ZooTampa works on bringing your family NEW exciting ways to experience Christmas in the Wild and this year, they’ve put together some pretty cool photo opportunities made out of holiday lights!


Lighted Rhino at ZooTampa Christmas in the Wild
The lighted rhino is beautiful and makes a great photo spot! Photo by Laura Byrne.
  • Larger-than-life illuminated animal sculptures: A wildlife journey in lights will be placed throughout the Zoo for beautiful photo opportunities for guests of all ages. You’ll encounter a larger-than-life giraffe, elephant, and rhino in the Africa Realm. Kids can get up-close and we highly recommend family photos at these spots!
  • Rockin’ Wreath: The Ituri Pass walk-through will be lined with interactive lite Christmas wreaths and playing your favorite rock ‘n’ roll versions of Christmas carols.
  • Holiday House Light Show: Guests can enjoy a festive holiday light show playing continuously through the night in front of ZooTampa’s own holiday house.
  • Snowy Christmas Oasis: Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Guests can feel nostalgic with the entire family as they’re surrounded by 32 snow-flocked Christmas trees and hanging snowflakes making it a true winter wonderland.

Returning Favorites in 2023:

Ticky Tacky Christmas at ZooTampa Christmas in the Wild
Experience Ticky Tacky Christmas near Roaring Springs at ZooTampa’s Christmas in the Wild! Photo by Laura Byrne.
  • Ticky Tacky Christmas: Roaring Springs transforms into Tacky Christmas, where holiday decorations get silly.
  • Randolph’s Reindeer games: Meet Randolph in person and play some of his favorite holiday games. (Pictured at top of post.)
  • Holiday Signature Encounters: On all event nights, guests can make their evening even more magical by upgrading their experience with a Holiday African Penguin Encounter or a Holiday Indian Rhino Encounter featuring the opportunity to get up close to amazing animals.
  • Gingerbread Jubilee: Join Mayor Molasses and the citizens of Gingerbread Village as they invite all of our guests to celebrate Christmas alongside them at an unforgettable jubilee.
  • The Forest of Fantasy: Two light shows transform the Zoo at sunset with twinkling lights and festive music. Shows are every 15 minutes.
  • Ice Cavern: The Africa tunnel transforms into a winter wonderland this holiday. Have your camera ready to remember the moment you step inside the cavern surrounded by glowing lights!
  • Candy Cane Carousel: Embark on an unforgettable ride with red and white lights sprinkled all around the carousel for a candy cane celebration.
  • Cookie Decorating with Mrs. Claus: Every night, guests can decorate cookies at Mrs. Claus’ shop.
  • Twinkle town marketplace: Guests can visit with Santa and enjoy some holiday shopping. Limited time till December 23.
  • Holiday Kaleidoscope: Be immersed in the holidays under the sea as the sounds of the ocean fill the pathways of Manatee Mangrove.
  • Caribbean Christmas: Transport to the Caribbean with a festive display of colorful lights.
  • Hymn-Prov: Guests will get into the holiday spirit through some laughs at Saunders Theater.
snow at ZooTampa's Christmas in the Wild
Enjoy the snowfall near the entrance of the Ice Cavern to the Africa Realm. Photo by Laura Byrne.

Essential Event Details:

  • Christmas in the Wild takes place on 19 select nights from November 24- December 30, 2023.
  • Event dates are: Nov 24 (member night), Nov 25, Dec 1-2, Dec 8-10, Dec 15-17, Dec 20-23, and Dec 26-30
  • General admission tickets are $29.95 and are available in advance at zootampa.org.
  • Members and Pay for a Day, Come Back All Year ticket holders are FREE (there is a $5 reservation fee which will be reimbursed upon entry in the form of a $5 voucher valid for food and merchandise on the night of the reservation.)
  • Event capacity is limited. Date and time-specific tickets and reservations are available online.
  • They are strongly encouraged and the only way to guarantee admission.

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