23 November - 23 December 2018

Get ready for our magical lanterns festival

Chester Zoo’s magical lanterns festival is the perfect way to kick-start your Christmas countdown.  Discover a festive wonderland, full of sparkle, illumination and a sprinkling of snow.

Get those woolly hats and gloves on and a thick pair of socks so you’re wrapped up warm, ready for a winter adventure!  This year’s magical lanterns festival has a new route!  There are nine different stunning spaces to discover, each one is different to the last.  The look and feel of the spaces have been inspired by the amazing animals found at Chester Zoo as well as the excitement of Christmas.  There’s also a few surprises along the way that will have your imagination running wild!  For those who have been to our magical lanterns festival before, expect to see some of your favourite lanterns from Christmases gone by, as well as plenty of new ones to discover along the way.

Our uniquely Chester Zoo lanterns festival gives you the chance to see the zoo in a new light.  Pick up your lantern before setting off to explore the different spaces.

There’s a lot of work that goes into creating the nine amazing worlds; each has a different theme and each is filled to the brim with magical lanterns, twinkly costumed characters and traditional Christmas scenes. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Father Christmas too, he’ll be on his sleigh surrounded by his helpful reindeer – he could be just around the corner!

Before you set off and start exploring the different spaces along the route, discover the magic hereand see what fantastical worlds will light up around the zoo when it goes dark!

Make a meal of your trip and fill up on the tasty festive food we have on offer!  Warm up by taking a rest part way round the route at our Christmas Food Market or treat yourself to a tasty delight in the beautiful surroundings of our new pub, The Oakfield. Enjoy a mouth-watering meal or enjoy sipping on your favourite tipple.

The Lanterns at Chester Zoo has been lovingly created by our friends Wild Rumpus.  Take a look behind the scenes to see how our magical lanterns festival has been brought to life in our blog here >

See the zoo in a different light

Discover more about how we bring The Lanterns to life, by heading over to our blog and discover the inspiration behind the spaces!

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Make a meal of it!

Treat yourself to a variety of festive delights - you'll be spoilt for choice...

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Magical Lantern Festival

With nine different worlds to discover, our magical lanterns festival is the perfect way to kick-start your Christmas countdown.

More info

Explore a magical festive wonderland!

Don't miss out! See the zoo in a new, sparkly light.


All your Lanterns questions answered below…

You can book tickets for The Lanterns in a number of ways. You can book them online, book them over the phone on 01244 380280, or book them in person from Guest Services at the main entrance of the zoo.

The Lanterns event will be on the following dates in November and December.
• Friday 23 November
• Saturday 24 November - THIS DATE HAS NOW SOLD OUT
• Sunday 25 November
• Friday 30 November
• Saturday 1 December
• Sunday 2 December
• Friday 7 December
• Saturday 8 December
• Sunday 9 December
• Thursday 13 December
• Friday 14 December
• Saturday 15 December
• Sunday 16 December
• Wednesday 19 December
• Thursday 20 December
• Friday 21 December
• Saturday 22 December
• Sunday 23 December

Ticket availability can be viewed on our booking page

To reduce queuing and alleviate crowds we phase entry to The Lanterns every 15 minutes, when booking you will be able to select your preferred session time, which ranges from 4pm to 7.45pm. The last entry for The Lanterns is 8pm (for 7:45pm session time stragglers) and last orders for food are at 9pm across the site.

If you're visiting the zoo during the day you'll need to return to the main entrance at 3.30pm, so we recommend booking an earlier session time for The Lanterns to avoid having to wait around. Please ensure you have bought a separate zoo admission ticket, or you have a valid members card. You can buy your zoo tickets separately too using the 'BOOK NOW' tab above.

We’ve refined our time allocation to ensure a smooth flow of traffic at the gates and around the route. Allocated times help avoid huge queues building, so you’ll be able to enjoy the experience without encountering too much crowding.

Your ticket includes entry to a pre-booked session of The Lanterns. You’ll be invited to explore the zoo after dark as it turns into a magical festive wonderland, full of sparkle, illumination and a sprinkling of snow! There will be animal-inspired illuminations and traditional festive scenes throughout the route, taking you from one magical world to the next. The updated route will take approximately 60 minutes and will include animal lanterns, interactive characters*, snow and other festive treats along the way!

As part of the event we’re offering a range of festive food for you to enjoy. If you’d like to book your meal in advance just add 'Festive Feasts' to your booking and we’ll arrange the rest. We’ve got vegetarian and children's options too!

*If you'd prefer our interactive characters to keep their distance from you and your family as you make your way around the route, we have armbands available for pick up from Guest Services at the main entrance so our performers can try their best to identify you in the crowd.

Visit us with a group of 15 or more and get a 10% discount on admission prices, with the cheapest visitor free of charge! You can take advantage of this offer from Saturday 1 December for allocated time slots 7.15pm, 7.30pm and 7.45pm. Call our groups team for more information and to book tickets on 01244 380280.

Under 3s are FREE, however this is for admission only and doesn't include any food or drinks. Our range of delicious Festive Feasts can be added at the time of booking. There will be plenty of Christmas food and drinks options that you can buy on the evening too – some stalls may not have the ability to pay by card therefore we recommend you bring cash should you wish to purchase anything on the evening. We do have a cash machine on site.

If you haven't pre-booked your meals you can buy on the day. We operate a flexible pricing system to offer you the best choice possible, but please note we recommend booking early as prices can be subject to change.

If you booked online you will have been emailed a ticket within 24 hours of placing your order.

If you ordered over the telephone tickets will be either sent in e-ticket format or by post (additional cost may apply). Tickets from our Guest Services building will be available for collection at the time of purchase. Please retain your confirmation email including the barcode as the barcode is required to redeem any purchases you make like meals and buggies.

As this is a special event hosted outside of normal zoo opening hours, members and non-members will all be charged the same standard admission price.

Visitors with disabilities can admit one accompanying carer free of charge when they pay full adult/child price. (Please select 'carer' when you make your booking). Please bring relevant proof of entitlement such as a blue badge, or a Personal Independence Payments letter (issued by the DWP benefit office).

We have 15 minute session times slots available for The Lanterns, with admission starting at 4pm. This enables us to limit queuing to make the experience as special as possible for everyone.
Depending on your speed we’re expecting this year’s new route to take between 60 to 90 minutes to complete (excluding food and rest stops). But you’re welcome to take as many trips around the route as you like, and stay up until the zoo closes at 9pm.

Please park in the main car park and go to the main entrance. From here we’ll direct you to the admission gates where the magic will begin.

Some areas of the zoo won’t be open on the evening so we’ll guide you around the lantern route. For safety reasons we ask that people stick to the route.

Although there are areas of shelter along the trail this is an outdoor event so wrap up warm and bring waterproofs and sturdy footwear just in case. If the weather gets really severe we may have to cancel the event. We will give you as much notice as possible if we do have to make cancellations. You can see our terms and conditions below (see footer of webpage).

You are more than welcome to take photographs along the trail. Our photographers will also be on hand so you can take home a special souvenir photo (additional cost applies).

If you haven’t booked in for one of our delicious Festive Feasts then you can still buy hot food and drink from us during the event. If you want to bring your own warm drinks or food then you are more than welcome. Unfortunately alcohol is not permitted to be brought into this event.

You can find all the directions and options to the zoo on the main Chester Zoo website. You might also want to take a look at our rail combination ticket.

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