Chester Zoo reveals first look at The Lanterns 2018

  • Revealed: First detailed peek into plans for 2018’s The Lanterns at Chester Zoo
  • Night-time route through the zoo will uncover nine magical worlds
  • Much loved animal lanterns from previous years will return, joined by new, specially-created illuminations
  • Tickets are on sale now for the annual Christmas event
  • Income raised will support zoo, which is a global conservation charity 

Chester Zoo has released the first detailed plans for 2018’s instalment of its annual family Christmas event, The Lanterns.

Visitors to the zoo’s festive winter spectacular will be welcomed this year by nine specially created ‘worlds’, filled to the brim with animal-inspired illuminations, magical lanterns, twinkly costumed characters… and Father Christmas himself.

Running on selected nights from 23 November to 23 December, the heart-warming event raises vital funds to help support zoo’s work as a conservation charity fighting to prevent extinction around the world.

Visitors arriving at the zoo will enter into a ‘Garden of Delight’, filled with illuminated flowers that reach up to 10 foot in the air and giant friendly snails, before meandering through a series of fairy-tale worlds.

Guests will first discover a Moonlit Meadow, home to some favourite animal lanterns from years gone by, featuring species such as giraffe, elephant, lion, tiger, rhino and zebra – as well as specially created new sun bears, cheetahs and mandrills.

The journey continues through a giraffe lantern filled zone called Shangri La, into a Cloud Cuckoo Land of stunningly colourful bird lanterns and costumed characters, including a brilliant Southern cassowary and majestic great hornbill.

Those who wish to stop off at the zoo’s Northern Lights zone will enjoy Christmas trees, Christmas markets and Father Christmas himself, before travelling on into the snow-filled Enchanted Woodland, placing much-loved British wildlife up in lights, before discovering the colourful Wonderland – a radiant, topsy-turvy world.

In Rainforest Aglow, families can walk underneath fantastical neon vines – and look out for the glowing sloth couple overhead.

Finally, no Christmas spectacular would be complete without penguin lanterns and characters, which can be found in the zoo’s new Ice Kingdom.

Festive food will be served throughout the route – including at the zoo’s Christmas markets and a brand new pub, The Oakfield, which was the original family home of Chester Zoo founder George Mottershead.

Jon Turley, Chester Zoo’s Head of Guest Experience, said: “We really hope this specially crafted journey through the zoo will create some magical, festive family memories.

“The Lanterns will take you into colourful new worlds – whether you want to stroll among our animal inspired lanterns or meet a host of twinkly costumed characters, such illuminated reindeer, dazzling penguins and even an emu and a curious white rabbit.

“And don’t miss the Christmas burritos… or the bratwurst… or the pigs in blankets… or the hog roast… or the festive churros!”

Tickets range from £10 – £17.50 for adults and £5 -£15 for children. Infants age 2 and under are free.

Visitors will be able to explore the evening sparkles at their own pace, but on average the experience lasts approximately 1 hour.

Tickets can be purchased at


The Lanterns has been lovingly created by the zoo, in partnership with multi award-winning outdoor arts producers Wild Rumpus.