The Gift of Lights, a special holiday lights event, returns to the Potawatomi Zoo every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 5-9 pm from November 29 to December 22.

“We started this event to give people a chance to spend time with their family and friends at the Zoo in winter and see it in a whole new light,” says Josh Sisk, executive director of the Potawatomi Zoo. “The lighting team has done an amazing job setting up even more decorations this year, and we think our visitors are going to love being a part of this great new tradition.”

Regular admission for The Gift of Lights is $10 for adults ages 15 and up, $5 for children 3-14, and babies 2 and under are free. Admission for Zoo Members is $7 for adults and $3 for children. Tickets can be purchased at the gate, or regular admission tickets can be pre-purchased at Martin’s Super Markets and the Zoo. Zoo Members tickets can be purchased at the Zoo during open hours.

The Polar Zoo Train tickets are $3 (over 2 years old) and come with a bell, golden sticker, and hot chocolate sample. The Zoo train will run as weather permits. The carousel will not be running in winter.

The Congo Café will be open with hot chocolate, coffee, and a limited menu. The Otter Outpost will be open with snacks, beverages, and special seasonal adult drinks: mulled wine and spiked hot cocoa. State Fair Mini Donuts will also be available at the Otter Outpost. Round Barn Winery and Brewery will have adult drink sampling every Friday from 5-7 pm in the entrance corral.

This year, the Gift Shop will be open in the new entrance building. Santa will be in the Gift Shop every night from 6-8 pm.

Some special events will also be happening at the Zoo during The Gift of Lights.

In conjunction with WNDU, on December 6, the Zoo will be participating in a Toys for Tots drive. Bring a new, unused toy to the Zoo and receive 50% off a single admission (discount does not stack).

December 7 and 8, the Zoo is partnering with the Food Bank of Northern Indiana for a Canned Soup Drive. Bring a canned soup to the Zoo and get $1 off a single admission (discount does not stack).

Friday, December 13, is Round Barn Night. Round Barn Season Pass holders can get $2 off admission if they show their pass. There will also be Round Barn samples from 5-9 pm.

On Saturday, December 14, the U-93 Ugly Sweater Party returns. Wear an ugly sweater and join the fun in the Picnic Grove. There will be adult drink samples in the Picnic Grove beer garden, as well as music, U-93 giveaways, a photo booth, and more.

Sunday, December 15, wear festive pajamas to the Zoo and get a special treat in the Gift Shop.

Local author Cheri L. Hallwood will be in the Gift Shop on December 14 and 15 to read from her children’s book, Winter’s First Snowflake, and sign copies.

The Gift of Lights is sponsored by Indiana Michigan Power, WNDU, U-93: Today’s Best Music, Visit South Bend Mishawaka. Lazar Scientific, Inc., is sponsoring a special charity night.

The Learning Center will be open. For the health and safety of our animals, some of the outside exhibits are closed after dark and in cold weather.