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The National Zoo is LIT ... for 31 nights

ZooLights is a free event powered by Pepco and nearly half a million lights.

WASHINGTON — From now through Jan. 1, you can see the National Zoo in a new light – literally. Nearly 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights have been strung up turning the zoo into D.C.'s most beloved winter wonderland for 31 nights. 

New this year is an immersive outdoor art installation, "Entre Les Rangs," and 25 life-like animal lanterns. 

On the hill adjacent to the Great Cats exhibit, Entre Les Rangs was created by Kanva Architecture in collaboration with Udo Design, Côté Jardin, Boris Dempsey and Pierre Fournier. It was first presented in Montreal, and features hundreds of crystal reflectors that respond to wind, movement and light. 

The 3-D, glowing sculptures are scattered throughout the zoo and feature the various animals you can spot at the zoo: elephants, zebras, cheetahs, alligators, flamingos, tigers, lions and more. 

Credit: Courtesy National Zoo
25 life-like animal lanterns represent the various animals you can see at the zoo, and the sculptures are new this year.

If you're already missing Bei Bei, experience Pandamonium in the Visitor Center Theater on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The virtual reality experience takes you behind the scenes of life with Bei Bei, Bao Bao and their parents, plus it gives insight into what it's like caring for pandas. Tickets are $9.

A live music or dance performance will take place in the Great Meadow by local community or school groups every night. 

On Dec. 6, 7 and 8 you can get some holiday shopping done at the third annual GRUMP holiday market, featuring D.C.-made wares from local artists. Expect everything from clothing to accessories, artwork, toys and sweets. 

On Dec. 12, get your beer on at BrewFest. Dozens of breweries will be passing out craft beer and microbrew samplings, and carolers, DJs and a cappella singers will serenade you as you stroll through the lights. Plus, you can warm up around the fire making s'mores. Tickets start at $55. 

Credit: Courtesy National Zoo
New this year is an immersive outdoor art installation, "Entre Les Rangs," originally displayed in Montreal.

ZooLights is open nightly from 5 to 9 p.m., but is not open Dec. 24, 25 and 31.

RELATED: Where to Wander: Nov. 29-Dec. 1

RELATED: The 7 most Instagram-worthy holiday light shows in the DC area

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