photo by Seth Kroft

2023 Holiday Nights at ZooMontana

December 2023

Holiday Nights is back and creating more magical memories with its magnificent walk-through displays this season that boasts over 10 million lights. Open Thursdays-Sundays through December 24, it’s open nightly December 26-January 1. The lights shine bright from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. each evening. We’ve gathered a few notable moments to help you make the most of your Holiday Nights experience.  


  • Mrs. Claus’ Crafts- On Thursdays-Saturdays (6 p.m. – 7 p.m.), kiddos can hit the pause button on their outdoor adventuring to come inside and decorate cookies in Mrs. Claus’ Craft Room. (At least one adult needs to accompany their children). On Sundays, Stockman Bank is sponsoring craft time in the first lady of Christmas’s craft room.  
  • New Areas & Displays- Winter Wonderland (look for this at the waterfowl area) & Christmas at the Farm (the barnyard area). Eight new large light displays, five more S’mores tents with new locations, and two additional community fire pits.  
  • To make sure you don’t miss a thing, be sure to follow the Holiday Nights map!  
  • Theme Nights- There are a variety of theme nights in play this year that include Write Letters to Santa Night, Hot Chocolate Bar Night (buy a cup of cocoa, but get all the fixings for free!), Wear Ugly Holiday Sweater Night, and more!  
  • Silver Bells Community Stage- On Fridays and Saturdays there will be a variety of entertainment gracing the stage. Confirmed thus far are: School of Classical Ballet, The Christmas Carol Musical Cast, The MSU Billings Saxophone Ensemble, Funky Bunch Improv, Reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Mary Beth Beaulieu, and more confirming every day! 
  • Hidden Holiday Hunt- This scavenger hunt and word scramble activity has visitors looking for a different icon in each of the 15 different sections of the light show. Each icon has a letter associated with it and you’ll unscramble the letters to create a holiday-based phrase. You can find this activity on the back of the map you’ll receive upon entrance.  

You’ll also want to know that ZooLights, now named Holiday Nights Drive Thru, is back on select nights. It will be operated as it was when the Zoo ran it with pricing for that the same ($10/car or $20/bus) on December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19.  

With so much fa la la la fun to be had, it’s important to note that purchasing tickets in advance is recommended. Also, it’s wintertime in Montana, so Holiday Nights is weather dependent. In the event of severe winter weather, safety is the top priority, so there could be unexpected closures.    

Originally printed in the December 2023 issue of Simply Local Magazine

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