Delight in Light: Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular

Updated for 2019!

As soon as Thanksgiving ends, there is an absolute magic surrounding us as we approach the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Chanukah, there is this warmth in the air despite the cold nights. Families flock to venture outside in search of celebrating, and one of the premiere activities to attend is The Turtle Back Zoo’s Holiday Lights Spectacular. Families delight in visiting this enchanted space especially since it is FREE to visit (donations of non-perishable food items, new toys and gently used coats are accepted).

Turtle Back Zoo

Throughout this expansive zoo are over 50 animal and winter themed characters which make up only a handful of the 100,000 lights throughout the area. This is a perfect walk for young children to help develop their language as you identify each creature together. There will also be select exhibits available that families can explore together like Sea Lion Sound, Tam-ring Gibbons, Tropical Currents Aquarium, Reptile Building and the Essex Farm. Don’t be surprised if additional activities appear in the coming weeks.


2019 Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular

There are so many cool activities and experiences families can enjoy during Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular. Besides spending time together and taking lots of pictures, kids and adults can enjoy exciting special events as well as a visit with Santa. The TBZ Holiday Lights Spectacular is open every weekend beginning November 22 then every day December 6-31 (Closed on December 24-25). The event takes place from 5pm-9pm. Here are some activities you can enjoy:

  • Mailbox to the North Pole: Children are invited to mail their letters to Santa Claus.
  • Take a Selfie with Santa: Children can stop by and say hello to Old Saint Nick. If your camera or skills are not that strong, don’t worry photos can be purchased.
    • Friday, Saturday, Sunday November 29-December 1
    • Friday, Saturday, Sunday December 6-8
    • Friday, Saturday, Sunday December 13-15
    • Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday December 20-23


  • Storytime with Mrs. Claus: Children can listen to a classic story read by Mrs. Claus and meet an animal friend. Light refreshments are included with a ticket (additional fee applies and tickets need to purchased in advance). (TBD)
  • S’mores Stations

Turtle Back Zoo

  • As always, you can visit some of the animals in between these activities and looking at the lights.


Turtle Back Zoo is located at 580 Northfield Ave. West Orange, NJ 07052

Parking is free however we do recommend arriving early. When the lot is full you might be directed to parking offsite and take the trolley to the zoo.

Check out our 2016 Photo Album!

You may also enjoy:

Brain Boosting Holidays

Light up Language

Christmas Ice Caverns

Santa Land Denville

Educational Benefits of Zoos

Turtle Back Zoo

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