Zoo Atlanta brings back Chinese Lantern Festival for the holidays

Create new and exciting traditions this holiday season with Zoo Atlanta’s returning IllumiNights at the Zoo: A Chinese Lantern Festival.

In partnership with Hanart Culture, the Zoo will transform after dark into a stunning visual celebration of the natural world with more than 80 hand-painted lanterns placed throughout the park.

The lanterns depict a variety of creatures, some you’ll find at the Zoo and others you won’t, including lions, elephants, flowers, birds, reptiles, a 23-foot-tall jellyfish and a 100-foot-long Chinese dragon. Each lantern is illuminated by environmentally-friendly LED lights.

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“One of the things that really drew us to [the lantern project] is its ability to match to our mission in terms of being able to showcase wildlife and biodiversity, and being able to showcase that in a different way is something that is really fun for us,” Jennifer Smith, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships & Initiatives at Zoo Atlanta, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2021.

Other highlights include an interactive jump-pad of lights at the KIDZone, a selection of gift shops, food and beverage stands and rides on the Endangered Species Carousel. Guests aged 21-and-up will have a chance to try the Festivus-themed Airing of Grievances, a limited-release cider infused with cranberry and holiday spices from Marietta-based Treehorn Cider.

“We believe this event will have a universal appeal. It’s an outdoor family outing, it’s an evening with friends, it’s a one-of-a-kind date night – there’s something for everyone. The lanterns are truly works of art, and importantly, they are breathtaking representations of the splendors of the wildlife and wild places that Zoo Atlanta’s mission dedicates us to preserving,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO of Zoo Atlanta.

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‘Tis the season, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is your No. 1 source for things to do, see and eat through all of the holidays.

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For our full coverage of holiday events around metro Atlanta, check out the AJC’s Atlanta Winter Guide.

The Zoo will remain open for regular hours, with the festival running nightly from now through Jan. 15, except on certain blackout dates.

Tickets can be found here.