The National Zoo puts up a gazillion Xmas lights on trees and buildings and at the Connecticut Avenue entrance, and this is a great place to experiment with your zoom. Bring a monopod or a tripod so you can get some stable shots, make your aperture small to reduce light and your shutter speed slow (1-3 seconds), and then as smoothly as possible zoom in or out while the shutter is open. You'll get some colorful bursts in your composition: lights hung on the trunks of trees especially look interesting. Then, off the tripod, try waving your camera in circles or from side to side to let the lights blue across your screen. If you shoot with lots of black background, these pictures can then be of great use in video editing when dissolving with other black-dominant images. Zoolights come down on Friday, so there are only a few nights to go!
Here's the info: Zoolights!