Chester Zoo winter spectacle Lanterns & Light

A team of 40 people have been preparing groundbreaking new installations in its longest light trail yet

Fire gardens, costumed characters, giant pea-lit animals and the world’s first 3D hologram mammoth have been added to this year’s line up

Visit Father Christmas in his toy shop as he spreads festive cheer

Tickets are available from 17 November – 31 December

Images show a variety of colourful new features to this year’s line up, including ultraviolet rainforests, new interactive animal characters, a walkway of giant- pea-lit animals and a stunning fire garden.

New installations also include a world-first giant 3D interactive woolly mammoth hologram, named Matilda, who will be taking centre stage along with a selection of fun-filled fairground rides and traditional Christmas markets.

All funds raised from ticket sales will go towards the charity zoo’s efforts in helping nature thrive around the world.

Tickets are now on sale for Lanterns and Light which is running from Friday 17 November to Sunday 31 December 2023, with entry slots from 4pm – 8pm.

To book tickets or to find out more, visit  

Special area will celebrate the zoo’s 91st birthday year in lights 

Other brand new characters and zones will include orangutans, butterflies, caterpillars and wolves

Tickets now on sale for much-loved family event

Funds raised from the event will support the zoo’s crucial work as a wildlife conservation charity

Chester Zoo has revealed its plans for its wintertime celebration, The Lanterns.


Now in its eleventh  year, visitors to the event are given the unique opportunity to experience the zoo after hours on a set trail in the dark – taking them through spectacular illuminations and colourful lanterns, encountering enchanting costumed characters along the way. 

 Among the many new elements at this year’s festivities will be brand new illuminated characters, featuring orangutans, butterflies, caterpillars and wolves taking visitors on a journey through time as they explore the zoo’s history.

Conservationists at the UK’s most popular zoo say that the event will support the zoo’s crucial work as a wildlife conservation charity and will help with its recovery following the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 Senior Admissions and Retail Manager at Chester Zoo, Gemma Bamford, said: 

“We can’t wait to welcome visitors back to our very special Christmas event, The Lanterns. It’s become a firm favourite and something of a family tradition for so many people now and this year will be more magnificent and magical than ever.

“The event will see the zoo transform into a spectacular winter wonderland, where guests will be welcomed into an exotic world of colour and movement, where larger than life illuminations and animal characters await.


“This year’s theme is all about shining a light on species that face a fight for survival in the wild, where numbers of many of these incredible animals are plummeting to worryingly low levels. Never-before-seen illuminations of orangutans, butterflies, caterpillars and wolves are just a few of the species that will feature as part of our ‘into the wild’ theme.

“It’s the zoo’s 91st birthday year and so another hugely exciting new area will celebrate our anniversary through a special light show - taking visitors on a journey through time as they explore our history.

“Lots of firm family favourites will also be returning this year, like Father Christmas, the zebras, elephants and lions who are sure to put on a fantastic show.”

The Christmas celebration, which has previously received widespread public acclaim, will again have a restricted capacity this year due to the ongoing global Covid-19 situation. However, the zoo will be offering more timed entry slots than ever before, providing more people with an opportunity to enjoy the festive fun.

Gemma added:

“It’s been another strange and challenging year for everyone and so we’re just thrilled to be able to provide our guests with some much needed Christmas cheer. We know how much people are looking forward to getting out and about this Christmas and doing something lovely with their loved ones, so we’ve added five extra nights and more time slots this time around - giving more opportunities for people to come and see The Lanterns. 

“This event is an important step on the road to our recovery after all of the different challenges we’ve faced in recent times and will help us raise valuable funds, supporting us to continue our mission of preventing extinction all around the world.” 

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