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Lincoln Park, Old Town

Lincoln Park ZooLights Will Return — But Will Cost $5 Per Person This Year

Lincoln Park Zoo is facing financial difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing it to make ZooLights a paid event. There will still be five free nights.

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CHICAGO — ZooLights will return this November — but it will now be ticketed, Lincoln Park Zoo announced Thursday.

The zoo has been left “financially vulnerable” due to the pandemic, Director Megan Ross said in a news release. That led to the zoo’s leaders deciding to charge $5 per person for the hugely popular holiday lights show, marking the first time in 20 years ZooLights has required paid tickets.

Tickets will go on sale online Sept. 24 for members, with sales for the general public opening 10 a.m. Oct. 1. ZooLights itself will run Nov. 21-Jan. 3.

There will be five free nights: Nov. 24 and Dec. 9, 17, 21 and 29. Reservations will be required, and they’ll be open starting the Sunday before each free day.

There will also be two free members-only nights Nov. 20 and Dec. 1.

“Despite the loss of revenue this year brought on by the pandemic, we couldn’t fathom a Chicago winter without the joy of ZooLights,” Ross said in the news release. “… Unfortunately, we are not in a position to staff and operate the extended hours with the limited capacity of visitors required based on state guidelines without some public investment. We are charging a nominal admission in order to help us break even and still bring this beloved holiday tradition to the zoo.”

ZooLights is an annual event at the zoo where visitors can walk around and see dozens of displays with millions of lights. There will be socially distanced photos with Santa through Dec. 23, drinks and snacks, gift shopping and, for an extra charge, specialty events.

Due to the pandemic, all guests — including children and infants — must have a ticket to attend ZooLights this year, and groups cannot be larger than 10 people.

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