In Christmas

As the days grow cold and the nights draw near, in the heart of Chester Zoo, something magical will appear.  So before you turn and think of leaving, take a second look, because seeing is believing… 

Kick-start your Christmas countdown at The Lanterns and explore a magical festive wonderland, full of sparkle, illumination and a sprinkling of snow!  Give your family precious memories they’ll never forget; encounter nine new fantastical and colourful worlds, full of animal-inspired illuminations and traditional festive scenes that will leave you with a warm fuzzy-feeling inside.

From the glowing flowers of the Garden of Delight, through snow-covered Moonlit Meadow, to the bonkers Cloud Cuckoo Land, with incredible lanterns and light installations at every turn. You’ll encounter loads of brilliantly lit animal characters, giant snails, a troupe of emus, towering giraffes, to name just a few.

This year the Christmas Chester Zoo experience includes more lanterns and illuminated characters than last year. There will be lots of new animal lanterns, including sloths, cheetahs and giant otters. Visitors will get the chance to meet many interactive brightly lit animals, including butterflies, flamingos, reindeer and penguins along the way. Travel beneath the beautifully lit flowers and vines of Rainforest Aglow and into the sparkling icescape that is Ice Kingdom.

Chester Zoo have worked with Wild Rumpus who have lovingly created the extraordinary worlds you’ll see at The Lanterns. Rowan Hoban, Lead Designer at Wild Rumpus, gives us an insight into the inspiration behind the different spaces and what’s different about this year’s event…


“The ideas and inspiration for each of the spaces have come from the animals.  We’re utterly inspired by the different species that live at Chester Zoo and creating exciting lit versions of them, as lanterns and puppet costumes.

“We wanted to create curious and beautiful worlds for different animal characters to come to life in. For example, we knew that beautiful glowing butterfly characters, swooping over the audience, should be surrounded by a garden of colourful flowers.  The animals of the English countryside will be coming to life as lit puppets in the Enchanted Woodland, where the audience will enter through a tunnel of light, before being surrounded by spinning woodland shadow lanterns, and gently falling snow.


“When visitors experience The Lanterns, I want them to feel like they’ve stepped out of their day-to-day lives to travel through incredible imaginative lands.  The Lanterns and characters should transport them into childlike wonder, whatever their age, and I’d love everyone to come out feeling excited about Christmas, and that they’ve been to some very special places.”

So get those woolly hats and gloves on and a thick pair of socks so you’re wrapped up warm, ready for a winter adventure! You can even make a meal of your trip and fill up on the tasty festive food on offer!  Warm up on delicious delights at the Christmas Food Market or treat yourself in the beautiful surroundings of the zoo’s new pub The Oakfield. And remember…..keep an eye out for Father Christmas on his sleigh.  He could be just around the corner! 

The Lanterns is on selected dates from 23 November – 23 December.

Book your tickets for The Lanterns at Chester Zoo now >

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The Lanterns at Chester Zoo
Christmas/Festive
The Lanterns at Chester Zoo

Set off on The Great Christmas Expedition to discover exotic illuminated wildlife and animal characters in nine different fantastical worlds; each one different to the last – from traditional festive scenes to colourful animal-inspired illuminations.  This year the updated route will take you on a journey through new worlds that will have your imagination running wild.

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