Edinburgh Zoo's Christmas Nights - frequently asked questions

We want visitors to enjoy themselves at the zoo this winter which means safety comes first, and it is important everyone follows the government guidance to protect themselves and others.

There are a wide range of safety measures in place to protect you, our staff, and our animals. We have reduced the capacity of each time slot, created one-way routes, added hand-sanitising stations and will be asking everyone to wear face coverings in indoor areas.

At this time, Scottish Government guidance for Covid Protection Level 4 means we can remain open and our Christmas Nights events can go ahead as planned from 26 December – 3 January. While our gift shop must close, our outdoor market and takeaway only catering can also remain open.

This means we can continue to provide a safe, outdoor environment for City of Edinburgh residents with additional safety measures in place to protect our visitors, staff and animals.

We are also continuing to ask all our visitors to check and follow all government guidance. You must not travel from outside the local authority area to visit our parks while they are in levels 3 or 4.

We really appreciate your support and patience and kindly ask that you read the information below before getting in touch with any further queries at events@rzss.org.uk. Please be aware it could take up to seven days to receive an email response from our small team who are receiving hundreds of emails every day. Rest assured, we will come back to you as soon as we can, even if your original booking date has passed.

Hopefully you can visit us soon – we look forward to seeing you!

BOOK YOUR TICKETS

Frequently asked questions

  • Christmas Nights at Edinburgh Zoo
  • Santa’s Grotto - SOLD OUT
  • Storytime with Mrs Claus - UNAVAILABLE
  • Christmas VIP experience - SOLD OUT
  • Travel
  • During your visit
  • Other

General FAQs

  • What are Christmas Nights?

    Edinburgh Zoo's Christmas Nights feature a spectacular light trail around the zoo, taking visitors on a magical journey to the North Pole and back.

    You and your family will go on an incredible voyage, passing through Penguins Rock by moonlight and exploring an enchanted ice forest on your way to visit Santa’s workshop.

    Book tickets today!

    The trail follows a one-mile long route and will take approximately an hour and a half to complete depending on your walking speed. No matter what time slot you arrive in, you can stay until the event closes at 9pm.

  • When are Christmas Nights taking place?

    From Friday 20 November until Sunday 3 January, you can glow all the way to the Arctic with stunning projections, twinkling fairy lights, candy canes, nutcrackers and much more.

    Entry slots are available every 15 minutes from 4.45pm with the last available entry time at 7.30pm. No matter when you arrive, you can stay until closing time at 9pm.

    Please note - at this time, Scottish Government guidance for Covid Protection Level 4 means we can remain open and our Christmas Nights events can go ahead as planned from 26 December – 3 January. While our gift shop must close, our outdoor market and takeaway only catering can also remain open.

    Book your tickets!

  • Do I have to book in advance?

    EVERYONE is required to book online in advance.

    This is important so we can manage our restricted visitor numbers safely.

    There are allocated time slots for entry available every 15 minutes from 4.45pm with the last available entry time at 7.30pm – we will only admit visitors during or after their booked time slot, if they have advanced online booking confirmation. No matter what time slot you arrive in, everyone can stay until the event ends at 9pm.

    Please note - at this time, Scottish Government guidance for Covid Protection Level 4 means we can remain open and our Christmas Nights events can go ahead as planned from 26 December – 3 January. While our gift shop must close, our outdoor market and takeaway only catering can also remain open.

    We are also continuing to ask all our visitors to check and follow all government guidance. You must not travel from outside the local authority area to visit our parks while they are in levels 3 or 4.

  • Can I change my ticket date or get a refund?

    If you are unable to visit on your booked date due to coronavirus restrictions, we would like to offer you zoo credit in the form of vouchers which would be valid for 12 months until the end of 2021 and can be used for daytime tickets, in our shops and cafes, or for future events at the zoo.

    Our terms and conditions do state that tickets are non-refundable if the zoo remains open and the event is going ahead, however under current circumstances we are also able to issue a refund if necessary.

    Please email your original booking details and confirmation of whether you’re happy to accept gift vouchers from our charity and help us continue to feed our animals this Christmas and protect wildlife at this difficult time, or to request a refund.

    We will process these as quickly as possible. Due to the volume of requests, either option may take up to 14 days to process at this time – thank you so much for bearing with us.

    Please note - we will always email all pre-booked visitors if an event were cancelled or the zoo had to close for any reason, including government restrictions or extreme weather.
  • Who is the event suitable for?

    The event is suitable for all ages, families and couples alike and is designed so that wheelchairs and buggies can get around.

    Our Christmas Nights light trail follows a one-mile long route and will take approximately an hour and a half to complete.

    We do have some wheelchairs available for hire on arrival. These are available at a first come, first served basis. They must only be used by one visitor per evening, as such will be thoroughly cleaned after each use. Mobility scooters are also permitted during the event.

    Please be aware that the zoo is located on a hill and no zoo led mobility vehicle is available during the event. You’re welcome to bring your own mobility scooters and wheelchairs.

  • How much are tickets for Christmas Nights?

    Tickets start at £12 for children, £18 for adults and RZSS members receive a 20% discount.

    Entry slots are available every 15 minutes from 4.45pm with the last available entry time at 7.30pm for a 9pm finish.

    Please book online in advance to secure your preferred date and time.

    We may run ticketing promotions or discount offers in the lead up to the event through our own channels or with wider partners.

  • Do under 3's go free?

    Yes, children under the age of three go free and you can purchase their ticket online through Eventbrite.

  • Will there be food and drink available?

    Yes, there will be festive food and drink available to takeaway and enjoy around the zoo.

    Take a look at what's available

Santa’s Grotto - SOLD OUT

  • What is Santa's Grotto?

    Meet Santa at his grotto, which has magically appeared in the zoo’s mansion house!

    Here you can hear about his tales from the North Pole and receive an early festive surprise…

    Find out more and book.

    Please note this is an add-on to your tickets for Christmas Nights. You must purchase your tickets for the evening event along with your tickets to Santa's Grotto. Each ticket purchased for Santa’s Grotto is per child.

    Santa's Grotto Christmas Night slots are now SOLD OUT

  • Do I need to book in advance?

    All grotto slots must be booked in advance with groups no larger than six. The maximum number of adults per group is two.

    The Grotto is available to book on event evenings from 20 November – 24 December.

    11 December is an ‘Adult Only’ night, and as such our Grotto will not be running.

    Find out more and book.

    Santa's Grotto Christmas Night slots are now SOLD OUT

Storytime with Mrs Claus - UNAVAILABLE

  • What is Storytime with Mrs Claus

    Visit Mrs Claus and enjoy a warming hot chocolate and Christmas cookie while she tells the story of the time Father Christmas crashed his sleigh at Edinburgh Zoo and how the animals helped him on his way!

    Find out more and book.

    Please note: following a recent Scottish Government announcement, Santa experiences in Level 3 or 4 areas cannot take place indoors.  

    For this reason, we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel all remaining Storytime with Mrs Claus sessions for 2020 as we have no alternative outdoor areas to run the events. The Christmas Nights light trail will still go ahead. 

Christmas VIP experience- - SOLD OUT

  • What is the Christmas VIP experience?

    This fabulous VIP package include entry into Edinburgh Zoo for the day, supper at Grasslands Restaurant and a head start on your voyage to the North Pole on our Christmas Nights light trail!

    After a day at the zoo, you can enjoy an early two course supper at 3.30pm and afterwards be one of the first to head back into the park to see Edinburgh Zoo transformed into a magical light adventure.

    Please note, Santa's Grotto and Storytime with Mrs Claus are separate add-on experiences and are not included in the VIP package. 

    Find out more and book.

Travel

  • Can I travel to come to Edinburgh Zoo's Christmas nights?

    Safety comes first and it is important everyone follows the government guidance to protect themselves and others. This means taking responsible decisions, including when it comes to travel.

    We are asking all our visitors to check and follow all government guidance. You must not travel from outside the local authority area to visit Edinburgh Zoo while the City of Edinburgh is in levels 3 or 4.

     

    If you or anyone in your household are showing Covid-19 symptoms, please stay at home.

  • Can I use public transport to get to the zoo?

    Safety comes first and it is important everyone follows the government guidance to protect themselves and others. This means taking responsible decisions, including when it comes to travel. With this in mind, you can park free of charge in the zoo car park until further notice.

    We are asking all our visitors to check and follow all government guidance. You must not travel from outside the local authority area to visit Edinburgh Zoo while the City of Edinburgh is in levels 3 or 4.

    If you or anyone in your household are showing Covid-19 symptoms, please stay at home.

  • Do I have to pay for parking?

    No. You can park free of charge in the zoo car park until further notice.

    Please note that spaces are limited in our car park and in the local area due to the residential nature of our location.

During your visit

  • What safety measures are in place?

    We want visitors to enjoy themselves at the zoo this winter which means safety comes first, and it is important everyone follows the government guidance to protect themselves and others.

    There are a wide range of safety measures in place to protect you, our staff, and our animals.

    We have reduced the capacity of each time slot, created one-way routes, added hand-sanitising stations and will be asking everyone to wear face coverings in indoor areas.

    If you or anyone in your household are showing Covid-19 symptoms, please stay at home.

  • Do I need to wear a mask?

    In line with government guidance, face coverings are mandatory in all indoor areas, including our admissions building and gift shop.

    Exceptions can be made for children under five years old, people with breathing difficulties and those with disabilities where the use of masks would be distressing or make communication difficult.

    Masks are not provided so please do bring one along with you.

    A small selection of face coverings along with ‘go-safe packs' are available to purchase at the entrance.

  • Will I see any animals on the trail?

    Part of the route of Christmas Nights at Edinburgh Zoo will include a moonlit walk through the Penguin enclosure. However, it’s very unlikely you’ll see any other animals as they’ll mostly be in their indoor areas where it’s warm!

    If you’d like to visit the zoo, you can purchase a reduced-price day ticket on the same day as your Christmas Nights visit.

    Please select a 'pre-paid' zoo ticket for the same day as your Christmas Nights booking. When you arrive, present your daytime ticket confirmation and Eventbrite Christmas Nights ticket to receive a discounted zoo ticket (£10 for adults and £5 per child). The zoo will close at 4pm and you will be required to leave and re-enter for the evening event at your chosen slot.

    We also have an exciting VIP package which includes day entry to the zoo, a meal in our Grasslands Restaurant and early bird access into the light event. Find out more.

  • Will there be food and drink available to buy?

    A variety of food and drink offers will be available throughout the event, including hot and cold food, drinks and snacks.

  • Will the gift shop be open?

    Our gift shop is open until 24 December for anyone wishing to purchase zoovenirs with card payments only.

    We are also maintaining a clear pathway for those wishing to exit without shopping.

    We have a member of staff on the door to control the volume of visitors entering the shop area and floor stickers will mark out 2m distancing.

    In line with government guidance, face coverings are mandatory in all indoor areas, including our admissions building and gift shop.

    Exceptions can be made for children under five years old, people with breathing difficulties and those with disabilities where the use of masks would be distressing or make communication difficult.

    Masks are not provided so please do bring one along with you.

    A small selection of face coverings along with ‘go-safe packs’, picnic items and some food and drink are available to purchase at the entrance.

    Please note - at this time, Scottish Government guidance for Covid Protection Level 4 means we can remain open and our Christmas Nights events can go ahead as planned from 26 December – 3 January. While our gift shop must then close, our outdoor market and takeaway only catering can remain open.

  • Will the event go ahead in bad weather?

    If it’s raining the event will still go ahead.

    We would only cancel the event if the weather is deemed unsafe due to high winds or extreme conditions and would email all pre-booked visitors with information if this were to happen.

  • What should I wear?

    This is an outdoor winter event in Scotland, so please dress appropriately.

Other

  • Are dogs allowed?

    With the exception of guide-dogs for the visually impaired, dogs and other pets are not permitted into Edinburgh Zoo for the Christmas Nights events. We also do not permit dogs to be left unattended in the car park.

    Please note, only fully trained and accredited assistance dogs, who are assisting a visitor, are permitted to enter.

    Please bring relevant proof of accreditation as this may be asked for on arrival. All registered assistance dogs must be up-to-date with all inoculations.

  • Do carers get free entry?

    Carers tickets are available through Eventbrite, but you must provide proof on arrival.

    A maximum of one carer is permitted to enter Edinburgh Zoo free of charge when accompanying someone with additional needs.

  • Can we use discounts and gift vouchers to purchase Christmas Nights tickets?

    As this is a special event, we do not accept standard entry discounts such as Blue Peter Badges, ASVA cards, gift vouchers, Young Scot Cards, RZSS complimentary tickets, daytime corporate tickets or Scotrail Kids go free.

    Other discounts may also not be redeemed during this event.

    Please contact us on events@rzss.org.uk if you have any discount enquiries.

  • Do I need to print out my tickets?

    No, we don’t require you to print your tickets. We can scan them from a mobile device.

  • I don’t have my ticket confirmation, what should I do?

    You should have received an email from Eventbrite directly after booking with your ticket information.

    If you have not received this, have a look in your junk email folder. You can also log into Eventbrite to find your ticket details.

    If you’re still having difficulties, email events@rzss.org.uk listing the date you booked, the name and email address you used to book and a contact telephone number.

  • What happens if my event is cancelled?

    We will only cancel an event if it is deemed unsafe for attendees, for example in high winds. If that happens, attendees will be notified by email with as much notice as possible.

    An email will be sent to the email address used to book the tickets. Attendees will also be able to rebook another date subject to availability. If there is no suitable alternative date, you will also be offered gift vouchers to spend another time. These will have a full year's expiry date and can be used for next year's winter event when the time comes.

    It is the responsibility of the attendees to check their emails before arriving at the event to check for any updates, and to make sure email addresses are correctly entered when booking tickets. Updates will also be made on our website and social media sites.

    Tickets purchased through third-party sellers such as Groupon and Itison are refundable, however this needs to be approved, please email events@rzss.org.uk with your request.

    Tickets can also be given to friends or family if you are no longer able to attend, you do not need to be the named person on the booking.

  • Why is the Giant Lanterns of China not happening this winter?

    Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have had to postpone our Giant Lanterns event this year.

    Following government guidance on non-essential travel, we were unable to invite our event partners (DDM & VYA) from Canada and China for installation.

    We're using local suppliers and partners for our Christmas Nights and hope this brand new event will help to spread some much needed festive cheer!

Have another question?

Please bear with us (pun always intended) - we are receiving LOTS of messages and emails and will try to get back to everyone as quickly as we can.

Like many other charities, we are working with a smaller team at the moment and will not be able to answer phone calls at this time.

We really appreciate your support and patience and kindly ask that you read all of the information available before getting in touch.

 

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