Lantern Magic this Christmas

Book for Lantern Magic and you’ll be invited to stroll around the zoo after dark to enjoy all of the night time sounds, our beautiful lantern-lit gardens and of course our magnificent, larger than life animal lanterns.

Plus, our festive characters will lead Father Christmas and his sleigh through the zoo, spreading a little bit of festive cheer.

Book in advance for your tickets to Lantern Magic and you can also choose to join us for supper by adding a Festive Feast or make a day of it with zoo admission, all at discounted prices.

Take a look at our frequently asked questions here.

UPDATE: Sorry, Lantern Magic has now sold out for 2015.


Lantern Magic is co-produced and co-created by the Liverpool Lantern Company.

Animal lanterns at Chester Zoo this Christmas

What our visitors said about Lantern Magic

“The zoo became such a magical place, very different from day time visits. We wanted to start a family tradition of coming to the zoo at Christmas and this was perfect.”

“It truly was a magical experience. Even though we were adults it was still enjoyable. Fantastic!”

“We loved the calm, quiet atmosphere and lots of happy families wandering around with their lanterns.”

“It was something different from the usual Christmas 'grotto’”

“The look on my daughters face as she saw the animal lanterns, the people dressed up, the lit up walk ways and hearing the lions roaring – it was unforgettable. You gave us the most memorable family celebration ever.”


Lantern Magic elves

Frequently asked questions

How can I book my ticket?

Sorry, Lantern Magic has now sold out for 2015.

Will I meet Father Christmas at Lantern Magic?

Although Father Christmas will be around during the event, he’ll be very busy with the elves getting all of the presents ready for Christmas, so there won’t be an opportunity to meet him. He’ll be driving his sleigh through the zoo during the event so you’ll be able to see him and get some photos of him. If you are interested in having more time with Father Christmas during your visit then he will be leading Story Telling activities during the day time. More information about Father Christmas Story Time here.

What is included in the ticket price this year?

This year we have added more animal lanterns, added extra areas to the route and introduce lots more performance elements to really make your experience magical. You’ll be invited to stroll around the zoo after dark to enjoy all of the night time sounds, our beautiful lantern-lit gardens and of course our magnificent, larger than life animal lanterns. Plus, our festive characters will lead Father Christmas and his sleigh through the zoo, spreading a little bit of festive cheer.

Will any animal houses be open this year?

No, we have replaced the animal houses with new areas to the route including the enchanted forest, the lantern lawn and numerous performance elements around the route. You may still be able to catch a glimpse of some animals out on their paddock if it is not past their bedtime.

Do the children get a lantern to light the way for them?

Yes the children will be able to collect a readymade lantern when they arrive but you are more than welcome to make your own at home and let us light it for you.  Details of how to make a lantern will be sent out to you before your visit.

Is food or drink included in the admission price this year?

If you opt to pay extra for the Family Feast then yes (you can see what the Festive Feast includes here). Food and drink will be available to purchase including our delicious hot chocolate.

Is the route the same as previous years?

No, this year we’re opening more of the zoo with more lights, more lanterns and more magic.

How long can I spend at Lantern Magic?

We’re expecting the route to take around 90 mins to complete but you are welcome to stay until the zoo closes at 8pm.

We have timed slots available for Lantern Magic with admission starting at 4pm. This enables us to limit queuing to make the experience as relaxed as possible for everyone. Once you have entered the zoo you can stay for as long as you like but the zoo will close at 8pm.

Where do I park?

Please park in the main car park and go to the main entrance at your allocated time. From here we'll direct you to the admission gates where the magic will begin...

Are there any restrictions?

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

What if the weather is bad?

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.

Will I be able to take photographs?

You are more than welcome to take photographs along the trail.

Can I bring my own food?

If you haven’t booked in for the supper 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.

What are the opening & closing times for this event?

Our first session starts at 4pm and then every half an hour until 6.30pm. The zoo will close at 8pm.