The Magic of the Essex County Turtleback Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular

Posted on: November 23rd, 2017 by

We first published details about the Essex County Turtleback Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular at the Turtle Back Zoo in 2013. We will update this article every year for our readers.


Essex County Turtleback Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular

The Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular is back for 2017!


Essex County invites you to the Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular!

Just like there is food that evokes memories, there is a magical element to Christmas that is captured by seeing holiday lights. The Turtle Back Zoo has been the hot spot for the Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular for several years. The gates are open, the admission is free, and the zoo is transformed. Lights adorn the different areas of the zoo and families can pace themselves in the several hours that it is open for this event. The train and some areas are closed, however with the newly expanded exhibits there are still animals to be seen as well as some surprise visitors.


We have made a visit to the Holiday Lights at the zoo a family tradition for several years now. It is definitely worth it to find time in your busy holiday schedule to visit the zoo. As you approach the Turtle Back Zoo, there will be traffic but the Essex County Sheriff’s Department is very good about managing the situation and it moves quickly. There is ample parking available. It typically is chilly at this time of the year so make sure everyone is bundled up in layers. Lastly, make sure to bring your energy as there is plenty of walking that will take place.


Each year the zoo seems to add more and more activities to their Holiday Lights spectacular and this year is no exception.  In addition to viewing the lights around the zoo the following extras are planned for 2017:


  • Ice Carver on Fridays: November 24 through December 22
  • Santa Meet and Greet – Friday, November 24, Saturdays & Sundays: November 25 – December 10, Every Night: December 16 – December 23rd
  • Storytime with Mrs. Claus (additional charge) – Friday, December 15 & Friday, December 22 (6pm & 7pm); Saturday, December 16 & Sunday, December 17 & Saturday, December 23 (3:30pm & 6pm & 7pm); December 18 through 21 (6pm)


  • Dec 1, 2, 3 – Classic Holiday Weekend
  • Dec 8, 9, 10 – Superhero Weekend
  • Dec 15, 16, 17 – Royal Princess Weekend – with a Princess Meet-and-Greet!

I recommend visiting during one of the many nights that this event is available as it is truly spectacular! Too busy to make it to the zoo before Christmas?  Don’t worry, the spectacular keeps running through New Years.  Our family went on New Year’s Eve last year and it a great experience and not crowded at all.


Tips for the Essex County Turtleback Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular

  • Arrive early.  Parking can be tough after 5:30 PM.
  • Dress warmly.  That means hats, warm coats and gloves.  It’s a long walk through the zoo!
  • Bring cash. The zoo concessions offer hot chocolate and snacks, and the famous carousel is open for business for an additional fee.
  • Aside from the holiday lights there are few lights along the paths, so this would be a great opportunity to break out those lighted holiday necklaces or some glow sticks, in case your children like to run.
  • The zoo is hilly, so a stroller is best for little legs.
  • Bring donations of non perishable food, new toys or gently used coats!  It’s free to the public and there are many who can use the support this holiday season!
  • Don’t forget the camera!  Lots of amazing lights and great photo opportunities!


Turtle Back Zoo is located at

560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange in Essex County.

Admission Charges to attend the Essex County Turtleback Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular

Admission is free, but please bring a donation of non-perishable food items, new toys, or gently-used coats if you can. Advanced tickets for general admission are not required. If you go please tell them you learned about the event from Jersey Family Fun.


Essex County Holiday Light Spectacular at the Turtle Back Zoo schedule

  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday: November 17 – December 10
    Every Night: December 11 – January 2, 2018
    Closed: December 24 & 25
  • Hours are 5pm to 9pm

For more details on this calendar listing please visit this link on our New Jersey Calendar of Events.


For more information Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights visit their site,


To view more family events in New Jersey and Philadelphia please visit our New Jersey Calendar of Events.


Find more holiday family fun in New Jersey, click here or on the image.



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