Lanterns 2017

The Lanterns at Chester Zoo

24 November to 30 December

This Christmas, as twilight falls across Chester Zoo a magical Christmas sorting office comes to life. The zoo will be transformed into an enchanting world full of illumination and spellbinding theatrical adventure.

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The Lanterns at Chester Zoo will be unlike anything you’ve experienced before.  With incredible lanterns, performance and a sprinkle of Chester Zoo magic, it’s a perfect, heart-warming and memorable festive event for all generations.

The lantern route will be filled to the brim with sacks of lantern toys and boxes of lantern presents piled high. Father Christmas and his helpers will be hard at work ensuring that all of the Christmas wishes can come true.

Lanterns 2017

You can post your own letters to Father Christmas and imagine what our precious animals might wish for too. Along the route you’ll see magnificent animal-inspired fairy tale scenes that will whisk you away to another world. 

This year’s event has been lovingly created by our friends at Wild Rumpus, specialists in creating extraordinary worlds, telling incredible stories and bringing to life moments of wonder for all ages.

The Lanterns at Chester Zoo is always hugely popular so we recommend that you book your place well in advance to ensure that you don’t miss out.

Why not make a meal out of it? Take a look at what Festive Feast we'll have on offer this year. You can even add them on to your booking!


Festive Feasts

How to book

Tickets are now available online, and you can also purchase them from Guest Services at the zoo or over the phone by calling 01244 380280.

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Tickets to Lanterns are limited and we offer flexible pricing to offer the best choice of prices possible. You’ll notice on our calendar that there are different prices depending on the day of your visit. We recommend booking early to get our best prices as these are subject to change depending on demand. 

Lanterns 2017

Group bookings

Visit us with a group of 15 or more and you can save 10% on admission prices, with the 10th visitor (cheapest) free of charge! You can take advantage of this offer from 1st December at allocated time slots 7.00pm, 7.20pm and 7.40pm. Call our Groups team for more information and to book on 01244 380280.

What our visitors said about previous years

“Last year’s event was fab, but this year was amazing, much more to see and partake in along the lantern walk. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!” 

“It was magical and different to anything we've done before”

"Seeing the zoo lit up at night was thrilling for our children. The way they followed a trail of lights was magical and the way they went through the enchanted garden to then see the animal lanterns was great."

Frequently asked questions

Our answers to your frequently asked questions for The Lanterns at Chester Zoo.

How can I book my ticket?

You can book your tickets for The Lanterns online, or you can purchase them from Guest Services at the zoo or over the phone on 01244 380280.

What dates are available?

The event will be on the following dates. The latest availability can be found on our booking page.

  • 24-26 November
  • 1-3 December
  • 8-10 December
  • 15-17 December
  • 20-23 December
  • 27-30 December

What are the opening & closing times for this event?

To make the experience extra special tickets are strictly limited so we recommend you book early. When booking please choose one of our timed admissions every 20 mins from 4pm to 7.40pm. The last entry for The Lanterns is 8pm and last orders for food will be 9pm. The zoo will close at 9pm.

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 to avoid waiting times. Please ensure you have bought a separate zoo admission ticket, or you have a valid members card. You can buy your zoo tickets separately here.

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.

What's included in the ticket?

Your ticket includes entry to a pre-booked session of The Lanterns. 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. This year we’ve got a new route, new lanterns and a lots of stunning performances to enjoy.

For 2017 we'll have a host of stunning NEW lanterns sculptures and enchanting lighting for you to enjoy. Strolling through the Lanterns route you’ll meet our colourful festive characters and catch a glimpse of Santa in his busy sorting office - a perfect start to the festive season. As part of the event we’re offering a range of winter warmer meals for you to enjoy. If you’d like to book your meal in advance just add the Family Feast to your booking and we’ll arrange the rest. We’ve got vegetarian and children's options too!

Do we get to meet Father Christmas?

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, but we promise every letter that you've written to him will be read. 

After Christmas Day, Father Christmas will be very tired. You'll still be able to see him, but he'll be fast asleep in bed.

Will I receive a reply to my letter to Father Christmas?

We'll make sure Father Christmas gets a chance to read every single letter you send him. However, he will be very busy preparing presents for Christmas Day, so he won't be able to reply to everyone's letters.

How much is it?

Under 3s are FREE, however this is for admission only and doesn't include food or drinks. The Festive Feast can be added at the time of booking (£7.95 adults, £5.95 child). If you haven't pre-booked your meals you can upgrade 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.

Standard prices Adult (18+) Child (3-17) Under 3s 
Friday 24 November - Preview Evening £12 £5 FREE*
Saturday 25 November - Preview Evening £12 £5 FREE*
Sunday 26 November - Preview Evening £12 £5 FREE*
Friday 1 December  £12 £10 FREE*
Saturday 2 December  £15 £12.50 FREE*
Sunday 3 December  £15
£12.50 FREE*
Friday 8 December  £15 £12.50 FREE*
Saturday 9 December £17.50
£15 FREE*
Sunday 10 December £17.50
£15 FREE*
Friday 15 December £15  £12.50 FREE*
Saturday 16 December £17.50
£15 FREE*
Sunday 17 December £17.50
£15 FREE*
Wednesday 20 December £15
£12.50 FREE*
Thursday 21 December £15
£12.50 FREE*
Friday 22 December £17.50 £15 FREE*
Saturday 23 December £17.50 £15 FREE*
Wednesday 27 December £15 £12.50 FREE*
Thursday 28 December £15 £12.50 FREE*
Friday 29 December £15 £12.50 FREE*
Saturday 30 December £15 £12.50 FREE*

*admission only

Will I receive tickets?

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.

I'm a member, do I get discounted tickets?

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.

Do carers need to buy a ticket?

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).

How long can I spend at The Lanterns?

We’re expecting the route to take between 45 to 90 mins to complete but you are welcome to take another trip around The Lanterns route and stay up until the zoo closes. No rush!

We have timed admission 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. Once you have entered the zoo you can stay for as long as you like but the zoo will close at 9pm.

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.

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. You can see our terms and conditions here.

Will I be able to take photographs?

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).

Can I bring my own food?

If you haven’t booked in for the 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.

What is the best way to get to Chester Zoo?

You can find all the directions and options to the zoo on these pages. You might also want to take a look at our rail combination ticket.