You can visit animals at the zoo year-round, but there is only a short time when you can see animals made entirely of twinkling lights. And during the nightly light displays, the zoo is also keeping the animal houses open so visitors can see their favorite creatures. New this year is an iceless skating rink that on Dec. 11 will host Washington Capitals forwards Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault. Kids ages 5 to 14 can enter a contest to skate with them.

ZooLights: 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays-Sundays through Dec. 11 and nightly Dec. 16-Jan. 1 (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31) . National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-633-4888. www.nationalzoo.si.edu . Free. Skating: $5 for a 30-minute session, skate rental $2.

— Amy Orndorff