Ticketing and Event Schedule

Nature Illuminated runs December 3 – January 17
Closed: December 24, January 4, 5, 11, and 12

Note: The last reservation time slot available is 30 minutes prior to the close of the Zoo.


The Zoo will offer extended hours New Year’s Eve.

Days of Week




Sunday - Thursday

5:00 – 9:00 PM

$50 per vehicle

$25 per vehicle

Friday - Saturday

5:00 – 11:00 PM

$60 per vehicle

$35 per vehicle

Explore Nature Illuminated

Brilliant beauty can be found in natural landscapes, and also in the wildlife that call these backdrops home. Join us as we shed light on some endangered and endearing animals from around the globe. Download a Nature Illuminated Map

Making of the Event

Nature Illuminated is a unique Minnesota Zoo experience – connecting people to endangered and endearing animals, stories of conservation in action, and the magic of illuminated art.

Produced locally by Landmark Creations in Burnsville, Minnesota, each inflatable is individually crafted by artists with reusable materials. Over the years, their custom work has been featured at the MTV Video Music Awards, Coachella, the GRAMMY Awards and many other prominent concerts and events around the country.

From initial artistic design through final event setup, it can take up to six weeks for the talented team at Landmark to expertly produce each custom-made illuminated art piece – ensuring Nature Illuminated is a one-of-kind experience you won’t find anywhere else!

Click on the video to the right and watch how a 30 foot red panda was created exclusively for Nature Illuminated.

Nature Illuminated FAQs

What is Nature Illuminated?

Nature Illuminated is a one-of-a-kind drive-thru experience featuring stunning light work and large-scale animal art installations! This event invites you on a magical journey into a world of lights and wonder, all from the comfort of your own vehicle.

Do I need to purchase my ticket in advance?

All tickets must be purchased in advance and online. Tickets for the event are not for sale at the Minnesota Zoo. 

I’m a Member, is the cost of Nature Illuminated included under my membership, or do I receive a Member discount?

All tickets must be purchased in advance and online, including for Zoo Members. Minnesota Zoo Members are offered discounted pricing for this event.  

Does the Free to Explore program apply to Nature Illuminated?

Nature Illuminated is a new and unique event experience to support the Minnesota Zoo. Free to Explore tickets are not valid for this event. For more information on our Free to Explore program, visit https://mnzoo.org/us/freetoexplore/

- How long does the Nature Illuminated experience take?

The Nature Illuminated drive is ¾ mile long with a 30 minute audio tour. The pace of the event is relaxed and enjoyable. Vehicles will drive less than 2 mph and are encouraged to stop, look, take photos from inside your vehicle, and follow along through the audio tour. Please expect to wait an average of 30-60 minutes during peak times of 5:30 - 8:00 (especially on weekends). We strongly encourage buying tickets for later time slots. Arriving early will not decrease your wait time. Please arrive at the time of your reserved ticket  

When should I arrive?

Since tickets for the event are for a designated time and date, there is no need to arrive more than 5 minutes before your start time. Arriving early will not decrease your wait time. Please be aware that gates close Sunday-Thursday at 9:00pm and Friday-Saturday at 11:00pm.

Will I be able to use the restroom during the event?

There are two ADA-accessible portable restrooms located along the entrance route prior to ticket scanning. After your event experience, there is an additional ADA-accessible portable restroom along the exit route.   Click here for a map of the event.

Will there be food available?

Food will not be available onsite for this event.

Can I exchange or transfer my ticket for an alternate date or time?

As this is a limited-time and limited-capacity event, tickets cannot be transferred or exchanged for an alternate date or time.

Are face coverings required?

When interacting with Zoo staff a face covering is required, such as during scanning of your ticket at entry or during a Unique Experience if you have purchased one. Face coverings and appropriate physical distancing are also required when using restroom facilities.

Am I allowed to take video or photography?

Yes, video and photography taken from inside your vehicle is permitted throughout the event.

Can I bring my own food and drink?

You may bring your own food and drink, however tables and seating are not available. We recommend enjoying your food and non-alcoholic beverages in your vehicle.

Can I attend on bicycle or walk through?

Nature Illuminated is a drive-through event and can only be attended in a vehicle.

Do I have to stay inside my vehicle?

You must stay inside your vehicle unless using the restroom or during a Unique Experience, if you purchased one. Face coverings and appropriate physical distancing are required when not in your vehicle.

Will I be able to see any live animals? 

Nature Illuminated is a unique nighttime drive-thru experience that operates after regular Zoo hours and highlights the natural world through spectacular light-work and large-scale animal art installations. To see live animals at the Minnesota Zoo, please schedule a daytime visit with us during our regular hours by visiting www.mnzoo.org.

What about bad weather?

In the unlikely event that the show must be cancelled due to extreme circumstances, you will be notified by email and your ticket transferred to a different date and time.

I don’t drive, how can I attend this event?

If you are unable to find a friend or family member to attend with, we welcome Metro Mobility vehicles.

What type and size of vehicles are allowed?

No RV’s, busses, or commercial vehicles are allowed. Vehicles may not exceed 15ft in length and 8ft in height. You must have a proper seat belt for each passenger. Children are allowed to exit their car seats only during the duration of the event drive. Upon exiting Nature Illuminated, please ensure all occupants are buckled before exiting the Zoo.

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