About Nature Illuminated

Back by popular demand, Nature Illuminated is a magical narrated journey through brilliant, oversized lit displays of your favorite animals. Join us for the return of this light spectacular of the wildest kind. Reserve your tickets now for the driving tour or our new walking experience!

Thank you for your support of the Minnesota Zoo and our mission to connect people, animals, and the natural world to save wildlife.

Ticketing and Event Schedule

Driving Tour December 2 – January 2: $35 – $60 per vehicle.
Members save $15 off per vehicle.
Event Gate Open 5:00pm - 8:30pm

NEW! Walking Experience January 6 – 16: $14 – $20 per person.
Members save $2 off all General Admission walking tickets.
Event Gate Open 5:00-9:00pm Thu & Sun and 5:00-9:30pm Fri & Sat

Nature Illuminated Reimagined

Nature Illuminated is back and brighter than ever! With new animal additions and a whole new theme, this year’s drive-thru and walking experiences will take you on an enchanted journey featuring brilliant displays of larger-than-life animals that all possess brilliantly wild natural adaptations. Before embarking on this light spectacular of the wildest kind, take a peek behind the scenes to see how all the magic comes together.

Nature Illuminated FAQs

What is Nature Illuminated? 

Nature Illuminated is a magical narrated journey through brilliant oversized lit displays of your favorite zoo animals! This event is a truly wild night spectacular- and sure to be a favorite seasonal tradition.

What’s the difference between the Nature Illuminated Driving Tour and Walking Experience?

The Nature Illuminated Driving Tour, December 2 – January 2, guides you through a world of light and awe all from the comfort of your own vehicle. The Driving Tour is accompanied by an educational and entertaining audio tour which details the power and prowess of the animal kingdom.

The Nature Illuminated Walking Experience, January 6 – 16, is an artfully designed trail where you can set your own pace and enjoy snacks and beverages as you take in the wonder of this light spectacular. The Nature Illuminated walking experience is a ¾ mile long trail that can be enjoyed at your own pace.  

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?

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 Nature Illuminated take?

The Nature Illuminated driving tour is ¾ mile long with a 30-minute audio tour. The pace of this event is relaxed and enjoyable. Vehicles will drive less than 1 mph and are encouraged to stop, look, take photos from inside your vehicle, and listen along through the audio tour.

The Nature Illuminated walking experience is a ¾ mile long trail that can be enjoyed at your own pace.  

When should I arrive?

As 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. 

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

There are ADA accessible portable restrooms located along the entrance route prior to ticket scanning and along the exit route.

Will there be food available?

Food will not be available onsite for the driving tour. There will be food and drink available for purchase during the Nature Illuminated walking experience. Outside food and beverage is not allowed during the walking experience.

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?

This is an outdoor event with a limited hourly capacity. Please note: masks are required in indoor spaces for all guests age 3 and up – this includes entry/ticket scanning and restroom use. Masks are encouraged outdoors but not required.

Am I allowed to take video or photography?

Yes, video and photography is permitted throughout the event.

Can I attend on bicycle or walk through?

From Dec. 2–Jan. 2, Nature Illuminated is a driving tour event and can only be attended in a vehicle. From Jan. 6-16 the Nature Illuminated experience will shift to a walking experience with additional interactive experiences. Bicycles are not permitted during either experience.

Will I be able to see any live animals? 

Nature Illuminated is a unique nighttime 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 will be automatically refunded.

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. You may also attend Nature Illuminated between Jan. 6-16 when the experience will shift to a fully accessible walking tour.    

What type and size of vehicles are allowed?

No RV’s, busses, or commercial vehicles are allowed. Vehicles may not exceed 30ft in length and 12ft 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 exit, there will be time to ensure all occupants are buckled before exiting the Zoo. 

Will stroller rentals and electric scooters be available for rental during Nature Illuminated?

No, stroller rental and electric scooters will not be available for rental for Nature Illuminated.

Can I bring my dog or pet to Nature Illuminated Walking Experience?

No, pets are not allowed but service animals are welcome during the Nature Illuminated Walking Experience.

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