Lantern Magic this Christmas
Last Christmas many families fell in love with Lantern Magic.
This year our unforgettable night time journey through the zoo will be even more magical, even more sparkly and even more fun.
You’ll try lantern making, meet our friendly festive characters and can add your Christmas wish to our Giant Wishing Tree.
Then turn the corner and outside our magnificent manor house you’ll see our beautiful animal lanterns – with some ‘new arrivals’ made especially for this year’s event.
And you can choose to join us for a delicously tasty and well deserved Lantern Supper at the end of the trail in June's Pavilion.
With the nocturnal sounds of the zoo, a little bit of festive cheer and a visit from Santa we’ll ensure that your family enjoy a Christmas treat that they won’t forget.
What our visitors said about last year’s event:
“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.”
The animal lanterns and illuminated costumes have been made by Lantern Company.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which dates are available?
- Sorry, Lantern Magic has now sold out for 2013.
What times are the lantern making sessions?
The lantern making sessions are every half hour between 4pm and 7pm.
I’ve booked Zoo Admission, Lantern & Supper – can I stay in the zoo until my Lantern reservation?
No, some areas of the zoo won’t be open on the evening and the zoo will close at 4pm so we can prepare the lantern trail. You are welcome to spend time in our main retail shop or make a visit to our elephant enclosure, both located at the main entrance, until your Magical Lantern session is due to start.
What does my Magical Lantern Experience include?
The Magical Lantern Experience is a trail to a spectacular animal lantern display where you will help to find Father Christmas by making wishes along the way!
• Children’s lantern workshop where they can personalise their very own lantern to take home
• Use of a family sized lantern to help light the way
• Journey along the lantern trail inside the zoo when the zoo is closed to general public
• Make your wishes along the way to hang on the Cedar Wishing Tree
• Late night opening of the Fruit Bat Forest and Elephant house
• A host of friendly Christmas characters to help you along your way
• Free winter warming drink
• Life-sized animal lantern display with new additions for 2013
• Making your wish to hang under the giant Cedar Wishing Tree
• Find Father Christmas in the magical lantern garden
• A delicious lantern supper (served in June's Pavilion after your lantern walk)
• Daytime zoo admission
• Professional photo souvenir
• Hot Christmas punch
• Animal-inspired gifts from our shop
Do I get to meet Father Christmas?
Father Christmas will be amongst the animals in the Magic Lantern Garden, where you will be able to track him down and meet him.
Can I take the lanterns home?
Yes, you can take the children’s personalised lanterns home with you but please leave the family sized lanterns with us when you have finished your journey around the zoo so other people can use them.
What does the Lantern Supper include?
The Lantern Supper will be served at June's Pavilion after the lantern trail. If you haven't already pre-booked your supper you can pay on the night - it's £4 for children and £5 for adults. This includes a pre-supper cup of warming hot chocolate and a choice of:
Hungarian style Goulash served with pasta
For the children: Pasta with tomato sauce topped with cheese
Warm apple, brandy & cinnamon punch
Choice of soft drink
Mini roast potatoes with thyme and crunchy sea salt - £2.00
Sticky roast baby carrots - £1.50
How much is it?
Under 3s are FREE, however this is for admission only and doesn't include food or drinks.
If you haven't pre-booked your supper you can upgrade on the day - it's £4 for children and £5 for adults. Supper is served in June's Pavilion, after the Lantern Magic trail.
and drink voucher)
Lantern Walk & Supper
supper and drink voucher)
Zoo admission, Lantern Walk & Supper
(Day zoo admission,
supper and drink voucher)
Will I receive tickets?
If you book online you will be sent an e-ticket within 24 hours of placing your order.
If you order over the telephone they will either be 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.
How long does the experience last?
The experience will last between 45 minutes to 1 hour but you are free to wander the route at your leisure so you could stay longer if you like. Fruit Bat Forest, Elephant house and main entrance area including the shop will close at 7.30pm.
Where do I park?
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.
How long is the trail?
The trail is 0.75 kilometers each way.
Why are there allocated times to arrive?
We allocate times to avoid queuing and so you’ll be able to enjoy the experience without encountering crowds. The sessions are every half hour between 4pm and 8pm.
Are there age restrictions for the children’s lantern workshop?
There are no age restrictions to the children’s lantern workshop so even the big kids can take part if you wish. There are larger lanterns available to borrow (one per family) to help light the route.
Are there any other 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 apart from in the Fruit Bat Forest.
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 (7pm on 21/22/23 Dec). The zoo will close at 8pm.
Any other questions?
If you have any other questions please call us on 01244 650 240.
There’s nothing like Christmas in Chester, make it a weekend with Chester’s new Christmas Market with over 40 local stallholders, Winter Wonderland at Chester Racecourse and late night shopping with Chester Grosvenor Shopping Centre.
Plus download the Christmas in Chester app to find your nearest Mistletoe and upload your Kissmas photo using #ChesterKissmas for your chance to win.