5 musts at Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic

The New Year is on the horizon, and you know what that means: all our favorite holiday attractions are about to close up shop for another year. But whether you’re choosing one last family outing before 2015 is in the rearview or making your wishlist for holiday seasons yet to come, Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic is a definite yes. But with so much to see and do at Chicagoland’s largest zoo, it can be hard to know where to start (there are more than 1 million lights, after all). Here are five of our must-sees and dos.

Polar Lights

Interaction is the name of the game at this new attraction. Located on the zoo’s West Mall (near the bison), Polar Lights lets kids (and a few adults) press buttons that change the colors of the 30 moving lights and four LED trees. Plus it’s all set to festive holiday music that’s sure to put some spring in your step.


Competitive families, take note. This giant illuminated tic-tac-toe game, new for 2015 and located on the East Mall, adds some fun to the holidays, with polar bears and penguins subbing in for the traditional Xs and Os. Little ones may need a boost to be able to see the whole grid, or you can opt for a little family teamwork.

Model Railroad

When your fingers and toes need a warm-up – and believe us, they will! – head inside the Riverside Room of BZ Red Hots for the impressive model railroad. The LGB Model Railroad Club has put together an impressive, multi-train display, and kids will have a blast spying various fun elements, courtesy of a scavenger hunt.

Singing to the Animals

There’s something so perfectly meta about serenading an actual reindeer with a rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” while a costumed character frolics with the kids. At 5:30 p.m., the caroling takes place in Hamill Family Wild Encounters, moving to Big Cats at 6:30 p.m. and Bears at 7:30 p.m. Although we may have hit an unsuspecting tiger with our very own rendition of “Silent Night”…

41-Foot Talking Tree

If you want to make one last attempt at a festive family photo, this tree is a great spot to try. The picture-perfect tree is located by the North Gate, so you can snap a selfie before heading back to the car. But does it really talk? We guess you’ll have to come and find out for yourself.

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