The Lanterns at Chester Zoo image

Review: The Lanterns at Chester Zoo

Our festive celebrations have well and truly begun after our visit to the Chester Zoo Lanterns last weekend. We had never been before so weren’t sure what to expect but after looking at the website and various pictures on social media I knew we were in for a treat! However, I can honestly say that this was a treat like no other; it really was a totally magical and unique experience!

N.B. We were guests of Wild Rumpus and Chester Zoo for the purpose of this review.

What are The Lanterns at Chester Zoo?

When darkness falls at Chester Zoo, and the real animals are tucked up in bed, the illuminated animals come out to play – and they are such a spectacular sight. The Lanterns route takes you around the zoo through many different areas on a Christmas Adventure, each as spectacular as the one before. The Lanterns are a collaboration between the Zoo and Wild Rumpus, the not-for-profit community interest company known for producing large scale outdoor arts events such as Just So Festival and Timber Festival.

Our Lanterns Adventure

Our journey began in Explorer Basecamp with illuminated suitcases and large shining hot-air balloons lighting our way. Here we met a couple of large parrots and a zebra who all interacted with the children amazingly – my son’s face in the Instagram post below says it all!

As we walked towards the Moonlit Meadow the children were handed lanterns of their own to carry which was a really lovely touch! The snow-covered Moonlit Meadow is home to some magnificent mammals, including a wonderful life-size elephant; a tiger and cub; gorillas; penguins and more.

Chester Zoo lanterns elephant and giraffes in the moonlit meadow.

Next, we were taken to an Underwater world, where we saw some beautiful, mesmerising jellyfish (I could have watched them for hours!) and met a giant glowing octopus.

Jellyfish lanterns at Chester Zoo

In Cloud Cuckoo Land we saw fabulously colourful exotic birds and butterflies and some wandering emus interacted with the children. There were beautiful flowers lining the paths which we recognised from Just So Festival earlier in the year.

Flamingo lantern at Chester Zoo

Our next stop on the Great Christmas Expedition was Tropical Dreams where fabulous amphibians and reptiles were hiding among illuminated ferns. Here, we met some fabulous larger-than-life puppet dart frogs and an eye-catching giant snake.

Snake lantern at Chester Zoo

After Tropical Dreams we were handed 3d glasses and made our way to the magnificent Light Tunnel. Using the 3d glasses was such a clever touch as it made the thousands of twinkling lights look even more beautiful.

Light Tunnel at the Lanterns at Chester Zoo

Next was the Enchanted Woodland, home to British Woodland animals. Here we enjoyed watching a puppet owl soaring across the night sky and we also interacted with a couple of squirrels; all of which we met at the fabulous Timber Festival earlier in the year. All of the puppeteers we came across on our journey around the zoo had obviously closely studied the real-life animals that they were portraying so that they could make their lantern puppets seem as lifelike as possible – which was great!

Squirrel Lantern at Chester Zoo

The traditional Christmas Food Market in the Northern Lights area had various delicious items of festive food and drink on sale (I was pleased to see that there were vegetarian and gluten free options available) and it was here that we interacted with some beautiful illuminated reindeer and even met Santa himself which was wonderful! My children absolutely adored standing underneath the Snow Machine and we got some beautiful photos of them! After the Snow Machine we met some very cheeky larger-than-life penguins, who were hilarious and entertained the children (and adults!) perfectly.

Chester Zoo Lanterns Elephant

My favourite part of this wonderful experience was Shangri La, right at the end of the Christmas Adventure, which was a colourful spectacle of illumination. A pathway illuminated with colourful lights and lanterns, with elephants and giraffes interacting with us along the way – absolutely wonderful!

The Lanterns at Chester Zoo image

Our Verdict:

We cannot praise The Lanterns at Chester Zoo highly enough. It is such a beautiful and magical festive family experience! The event has been superbly organised and meticulously planned by the wonderful Wild Rumpus (who also organise two of our favourite family friendly festivals, Just So and Timber Festival, and was the perfect start to our festive season.

Tiger lanterns at Chester Zoo

Tickets for The Lanterns at Chester Zoo

Although November is sold out there are still tickets available for December. Click here to get yours – you won’t regret it!

Top tip: Make sure to wrap up warm!

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