This past weekend, I went to the Joburg Zoo Festival of Lights to get in the Christmas spirit. There are many things to do in Johannesburg during the festive period, so I wanted to share my thoughts for you to consider before you book your tickets.

About the Festival

The Festival of Lights is an annual affair that takes place at the Joburg Zoo during the Christmas period. The Joburg Zoo invites visitors to experience the zoo at night, where there are a collection of illuminated giant animal characters, food stalls, rides, and live entertainment.

The Festival of Lights takes place every day (other than Mondays) at the Joburg Zoo in Parkview. This year, the zoo will be lit up from 25 November 2021 to 2 January 2022. The festival starts at 19:00 and ends at 22:00 each day. Tickets are available online via Web Tickets, and at the gate.

How Much Are Tickets?

Tickets for the Festival of Lights are R150 for adults, R75 for kids under 12, and R90 for pensioners. Children under 3 get in for free. Plus, you get a 10% discount on group bookings of 10 people or more.

How Will I Be Entertained?

Well, as the name of the festival suggests, there are numerous lights to see. There is a designated path where guests can follow the trail to see different animals and Christmas-themed characters. Once you’re done, there are various carnival rides you can do (understandably, mostly for kids).

In addition to the lights and rides, there is also live entertainment and a few stalls to browse.

What’s on Show?

Joburg Zoo has partnered with Joburg Theatre to bring this festival to life. In addition to the lights, each night will feature performances of some of South Africa’s top talent. From ballet to contemporary dance, from classical to modern music, each night is something different at the Joburg Zoo Festival of Lights.

After the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the entertainment industry, these events really make a difference in helping performers get back on their feet.

What’s on the Menu?

There are about 5 food stalls (and the Stages restaurant) where you can buy food from. This includes the usual festival food you’d expect, i.e., prego rolls, pizzas, samoosas, etc. You can also buy sweets, chips, and drinks from some of the stalls. There is also one cocktail stall, for the adults.

Bringing in your own food and drinks is not allowed. Click here to find out more about the dos and don’ts.

Tips for the day of your visit to the Joburg Zoo Festival of Lights

  1. Get there while the sun’s still out – while the festivities start from 19:00, we were there from just before sunset, which was an amazing time to be in the zoo. The animals are settling in for the night and the South African sunset beautifully sets the tone for the evening. Plus, it’s the perfect time to miss the crowds.
  2. Follow Joburg Theatre on Instagram to keep up to date on news – on some nights, due to the weather, the festival has to be cancelled. The Joburg Theatre does a good job of keeping followers informed should this occur on Instagram.
  3. Think about seating – there are several picnic benches around, so there’s a chance you will have a spot to sit while you eat. That said, there aren’t enough for everyone. If this is a concern, bring camping chairs (though this might be a mission to carry around), or, at least, a picnic blanket is advised.
  4. Go to the bathroom at home – It is a public space so you’d expect the bathrooms to be gross, and they are. Go before you leave home.

Final Thoughts

The Joburg Zoo Festival of Lights is definitely an event for kids. I, a 30-something, was underwhelmed by the experience but can acknowledge that children would love the experience. If you have children and are in Johannesburg, I recommend a visit to the Joburg Zoo Festival of Lights for a Christmas-themed outing.

For more information, visit Web Tickets.

Also, be sure to show your support by following Joburg Zoo and Joburg Theatre on social media.