News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351, 
April 10, 2024

Note: Downloadable photos for several of the events are located at the end of each individual listing. Credit photos to Brookfield Zoo Chicago unless otherwise stated.

Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s Calendar of 2024 Events

Earth Day: Party for the Planet
April 20 (Saturday)
If you’ve been storing items in your basement or garage, bring them to Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s Party for the Planet recycling event and make a difference for wildlife and the natural world. The event, presented by the Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program, takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Zoo’s main parking lot located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield. Gather any electronics, textiles, and used books and representatives from the Zoo and its partner organizations—eWorks and USAgain—will be available to collect them. Those visiting the Zoo earlier in the day, can assist members of the grounds crew in planting a tree on the south mall at 10:30 a.m. For a complete list of acceptable recyclables, visit or call (708) 688-8000.
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Earth Day Run
April 21 (Sunday)
Spring has sprung and there’s no better way to celebrate Earth Day than by getting outside and enjoying wildlife and nature at Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s Earth Day Run. Lace up your sneakers and join others for  the 2.2-mile run that is fun for the entire family. The non-competitive run begins at 8 a.m. and takes place inside the park. Registration fee is $35 per person and includes admission to the Zoo, an Earth Day Run commemorative medal, and a packet of wildflower seeds to plant at home. For more information, visit or call (708) 688-8000.
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April 27 (Saturday)
Brookfield Zoo Chicago celebrates the 43rd anniversary of its annual black-tie gala, the Whirl, on Saturday, April 27, at the Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago. Co-hosted by the Board of Trustees and the Women’s Board, this year’s fundraising event is themed Brilliant Horizons. Highlights of the gala include a live auction, raffle, and up-close experiences with the Zoo’s animal ambassadors during the cocktail hour, which begins at 6 p.m. Dinner and dancing to the sounds of the Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra follow. Proceeds benefit the Zoo’s educational, animal welfare, and conservation programs. Tickets are $1,000 per person with tables available at $10,000. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call (708) 688-8393.

Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s Digital Photo Contest
May 24 – August 2, 2024
Calling all shutterbugs! Brookfield Zoo is a photographer’s paradise with more than 3,000 animals representing over 500 species. So, grab your camera and head to Brookfield Zoo Chicago, where you might just capture a winning shot to enter in the Zoo’s 2024 Digital Photo Contest. Professional photographers will judge the photos and choose the grand prize winner as well as select their top seven picks in each of the following categories: mammals, birds, and reptiles/amphibians/invertebrates/fish. The public is being asked to then go to the Zoo’s website and vote for first-, second-, and third-place winners in each of the three categories. Photos may be submitted between May 24 and August 2, 2024. For additional information, including the official rules, and to fill out an entry form and upload your photo to submit electronically, go to or call (708) 688-8351.

Roaring Nights—summer concert series
June 22—The Fray
July 12—Barenaked Ladies
July 27—Gin Blossoms
Take in the sounds of popular bands at Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s Roaring Nights summer concert series, presented by Meijer®. From anthemic tunes and high-energy performances to familiar genre-defying lyrics and melodies and signature blends of rock and pop, guests can enjoy three unforgettable nights of music, fun, and dancing the night away on the Zoo’s East Mall. Bring lawn chairs or blankets and make it a date night or a family night. A wide selection of delicious food and beverage items, including at the Tacos Caja and The Coop food trucks, Nectar and Graze, and the Beer Garden, sponsored by Coors Light, will be available for purchase. Proceeds from the concerts contribute to the care of the Zoo’s animals, education programming, and global conservation efforts. Limited capacity and reservations are required. For more information, including band line-up and ticket pricing, visit or call (708) 688-8000.
Roaring Nights-The Fray (credit: The Fray)
Roaring Nights-Barenaked Ladies (credit: Barenaked Ladies)
Roaring Nights-Gin Blossoms (credit: Gin Blossoms)
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A Midsummer Night’s Feast Progressive Dinner
July 20 (Saturday)

Enjoy a progressive dinner safari around the Zoo—sipping cocktails and enjoying delicious hors d’oeuvres while visiting multiple animal habitats and learning about the amazing creatures that call Brookfield Zoo Chicago home. The safari ends with a delicious three-course meal at the Zoo’s open-air Swan Pavilion, with dessert served at The Carousel. The event benefits the education, scholarship, and conservation initiatives supported by the Women’s Board. For additional information, visit or call (708) 688-8393.

August 17 (Saturday)
Enjoy samplings from a selection of beers, lagers, ales, seltzers, ciders, and hard lemonades at Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s annual 21-and-over beer-tasting event. Libations will be poured by brew representatives at the Zoo’s Pavilions from 1 to 5 p.m. with a VIP ticket option beginning at noon. Designated driver tickets, featuring unlimited soft drinks, are also available. All tickets include commemorative swag and admission and parking to the Zoo, allowing plenty of time to see your favorite animals. Children are not allowed in the event area. Photo ID is required upon entry. For additional information, including pricing, and to make reservations, visit or call (708) 688-8000.

Zoo Run
September 8 (Sunday)
Whether you choose to run or stroll at a leisurely pace in Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s annual Zoo Run, you’ll help support the more than 3,000 animals that slither, hop, swim, fly, swing, and walk at the Zoo 365 days a year. The fun-filled event features a chip-timed 5k race at 8:30 a.m. followed by a chip-timed 1-mile race for kids ages 4-13. Each runner receives a commemorative Zoo Run swag, bib containing timing chip, and snacks and beverages. Runners can bring along family and friends for free to cheer them on and visit the animals after the races! Proceeds from the event benefit the Zoo’s Animal Care and Conservation Fund. To register and for further information, including pricing, visit or call (708) 688-8000.
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Hispanic Heritage Fest – NEW
September 21 (Saturday)
Join us at Brookfield Zoo Chicago this fall for a new, vibrant Hispanic Heritage Fest on Saturday, September 21! Delight in live music, delectable cuisine, cultural performances, and more—all included with your Zoo admission for a day of celebration and exploration. For more information, visit or call (708) 688-8000.

September 28 (Saturday)
Prost (Cheers), to Oktoberfest and the season of donning your lederhosen and enjoying live polka music at Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s Oktoberfest, presented by Leinenkugel’s. The festive event, which takes place on the Zoo’s East Mall, is free with general admission. Zoogoers can also pick up sponsor giveaways while taking in the sounds of Oktoberfest. Additionally, a seasonal menu featuring bratwursts, sausages, pretzels with beer cheese, and more is available for purchase. For more information, visit or call (708) 688-8000.

Recycling Event
September 28 (Saturday)
If you weren’t able to do a spring clean earlier in the year, Brookfield Zoo Chicago is hosting a fall recycling event. Drop off your unwanted electronics, textiles, and used books between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Zoo’s main parking lot located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield. Representatives from Brookfield Zoo Chicago and its partner organizations—eWorks and USAgain—will be available to collect and recycle a variety of items. For a complete list of acceptable recyclables, visit or call (708) 688-8000.
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Boo! at the Zoo
October 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 (Saturdays and Sundays)
Gather your ghoulfriends and little ghosts and goblins and head to Brookfield Zoo Chicago for its annual Boo! at the Zoo Halloween celebration. Families will have a fang­-tastic time enjoying the fall season and the many themed photo frames and vignettes to take memorable snapshots. Take a spin on the Creepy Carousel or the Zoo’s Anniversary Ferris Wheel to view the park in its beautiful fall foliage. Zoogoers can learn about some not-so-scary critters during special zoo chats. Or, watch as some animals receive Halloween enrichment treats—pumpkins. Youngsters can receive their own sweet treat before they leave. For more information, visit or call (708) 688-8000.
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Conservation Leadership Awards Dinner
October 7 (Monday)
Brookfield Zoo Chicago is proud to honor recipients at its 21st annual Conservation Leadership Awards Dinner held at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago,120 East Delaware, Chicago. During the fundraising event, individuals and organizations are recognized for their collective impact and commitment to conservation and animal welfare and will be presented with the George B. Rabb Conservation Medal, the Corwith Hamill Lifetime Achievement Conservation Award, and the Edith Rockefeller McCormick Partnership Award. Proceeds from the evening’s event benefit the Zoo’s conservation, education, and animal programs. For more information visit, or call (708) 688-8393.

Zoo After Dark: BOOs & Brews – NEW
October 19 (Saturday)
Dress up in your favorite costume attire and have a ghoulishly fun time at Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s new 21-and-over after-hours Boos and Brews. Enjoy the Halloween-themed dance party, eerie entertainment, frightening animal experiences, and chilling specialty food and drinks. For additional information, including pricing, visit or call (708) 688-8000.

Tree Trim
November 9-10 (Saturday and Sunday)
Organizations and corporations can help deck out Brookfield Zoo Chicago for the holidays at its annual Tree Trim. Sponsor a pre-lit tree and have fun decorating it with handmade or purchased ornaments. The cost, which includes signage and a limited number of admission and parking passes for Tree Trim days, is $195 for a community tree and $600 for a corporate tree. For more information and to register beginning September 2, visit or call (708) 688-8000.
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Wines in the Wild
November 9 (Saturday)
Enjoy the opportunity to sample an array of wines and liquors from around the world at Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s Wines in the Wild. Accompanying the selection will be delicious hors d’oeuvres. The evening fundraiser, which takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Zoo’s Discovery Center, also features a silent auction and up-close experiences with some of the animal ambassadors. Proceeds from Wines in the Wild support the education, conservation, and scholarship programming needs that are funded by the Women’s Board. For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit  or call (708) 688-8393.

Reindeer Run
November 16 (Saturday)
Grab your glow sticks and lace up your shoes and join in Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s festive Reindeer Run. Be the first to see the Zoo all lit up for the holidays with more than two million LED lights along a 2-mile course inside the park. Families can also enjoy a spin on The Carousel, and there will be a selection of food and beverages available for purchase. Children riding in strollers during the race, do not need to be registered. Registration fee for Reindeer Run is $30 (plus registration fee) per person (Zoo members pay $25).The non-competitive run begins at 7 p.m. Registrants should enter the Zoo via the north gate. Check-in begins at 5:30 p.m. For more information and to register beginning October 2, visit or call (708) 688-8000.
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Zoo After Dark: Holiday Sip & Stroll – NEW
November 21 (Thursday)
Enjoy the beginning of the festive season at Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s new 21-and-over Sip & Stroll. The after-hours evening event gives adults a sneak peek of the Zoo all lit up for the holidays with more than two million LED lights. Throughout the evening, sip, savor, and stroll along the walkways amongst the light displays, partake in the merrymaking with memorable photo opportunities, and sample specialty food and drinks at pop-up locations. Join in the holiday dance party, get up-close visits with the Zoo’s animal ambassadors, and take a spin on the Anniversary Ferris Wheel or The Carousel. For reservations and additional information, including pricing, visit or call (708) 688-8000.

Holiday Magic
November 22-24, 29-30 and December 1, 5-8, 12-15, 19-22, 26-31
Light up the festive season with family and friends at Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s 43rd annual Holiday Magic®, presented by Meijer®. Chicagoland’s longest-running lights festival returns from 3 to 9 p.m. More than two million LED lights transform the park into a winter wonderland. While strolling pathways, zoogoers can gaze up at a 41-foot-tall lit tree choreographed to seasonal tunes, stop at the 20-foot-tall orb and 3D gingerbread house to take memorable photos, walk through the “Tunnel of Lights,” and view the Zoo from high above in the Anniversary Ferris Wheel. Many of the Zoo’s animal buildings will be open as well as restaurants and gift shops offering an array of unique items for those on your holiday shopping list. (Brookfield Zoo Chicago will not open until 3 p.m. on Holiday Magic dates.) Before arriving, guests who prefer to park in the south lot will need to secure advanced reservations (including Brookfield Zoo Chicago members) as well as admission and parking tickets. Advanced reservations are not required for those who use the north parking lot, however, guests are encouraged to secure admission and parking online before their visit. For additional information, visit or call (708) 688-8000.

Holly Jolly Gingerbread Party
December 7 (Saturday)

Celebrate the holidays at Brookfield Zoo Chicago with this family-friendly fundraiser! Hosted at the Zoo’s Discovery Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the festive event includes a delicious brunch and dessert buffet with a mimosa and bloody mary bar and hot cocoa, as well as a visit from Santa, up-close experiences with some of the Zoo’s animal ambassadors, and of course, gingerbread decorating. The event benefits the education, scholarship, and conservation initiatives supported by the Women’s Board. For additional information, visit or call (708) 688-8393.
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Brookfield Zoo Chicago is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended summer hours of 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Admission to the Zoo is $29.95 for adults, $20.95 for children ages 3 to 11, and $24.95 for seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under and Zoo members are free. Parking is $17-$20. For Zoo members parking in free in the north lot or $7 in the south lot.

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About Brookfield Zoo Chicago
Celebrating 90 years as a global leader in animal well-being and conservation, Brookfield Zoo Chicago inspires conservation leadership by igniting emotional connections for people with wildlife and nature, locally and globally. The Zoo is a private nonprofit organization that operates on 235 acres of land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County and is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 species, including many of Earth’s most endangered. Brookfield Zoo Chicago was the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and ArbNet. For more information, visit