‘Jungle Bells' Holiday Season Returns to San Diego Zoo

From Dec. 10 through Jan. 2, the San Diego Zoo will transform into a holiday-themed winter wonderland

‘Tis the season of twinkling lights, jolly carols and merrymaking at the San Diego Zoo as the annual “Jungle Bells” celebration returns this holiday season.

The 2016 Jungle Bells presented by California Coast Credit Union runs from Dec. 10 through Jan. 2, and will transform the San Diego Zoo into a wild winter wonderland filled with holiday-themed programming, decorations, festive foods and live performances.

Jungle Bells attractions this year include the “Twinkle Light Trolley,” which takes visitors on a tour of animal light sculptures and other surprises. The trolley leaves every 15 minutes from 5 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. daily. Meanwhile, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, visitors can trek through trees glowing in lights to visit the zoo’s winter-loving animals at the Northern Frontier’s Holiday Forest.

There’s also Santa’s Igloo – located at Skyfari East on Front Street – where the kids can stop by for a visit and photo with a jolly old elf. That attraction will be open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 10 through Dec. 16; Noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 17 through Dec. 24 and on Christmas Day; Noon to 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

On the Front Street Stage, visitors can partake in Reindeer Games, at 5:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. daily, inspired by the fun, cheery games played by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his friends, including hula-hooping and a little jig dubbed the “Reindeer Dance.”

Live music during Jungle Bells includes performances from the Jingle Brass band, taking the Front Street Stage daily at 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The caroling group, The Tinseltones, will sing a capella at 6 p.m. at the Wegeforth Bowl.

Special holiday-themed programming includes Dr. Zoolittle’s “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” at the Koalafornia Boardwalk at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily. Also “The Journey,” a show that uses huge puppets and stilt walkers to tell the 100-year history of the San Diego Zoo, will trek down Front Street, all aglow for the season.

Throughout Jungle Bells, Albert’s Restaurant at the zoo will offer seasonal specials from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on drinks and appetizers.

The San Diego Zoo will extend its daily hours during Jungle Bells – from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. – so visitors can enjoy the lights at night. On Christmas Eve, the zoo will be open until 5 p.m., with no Jungle Bells activities that day.

Jungle Bells activities are included in the price of admission to the zoo or with a zoo membership.

To check out the full list of the holiday activities, click here.

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