The Lanterns at Chester Zoo

Watch your children’s eyes light up and their imagination run wild.

In its fifth year at Chester Zoo, this year’s event is even more magical and a favourite in the Chester Zoo calendar.

Your favourite animal lanterns are back for another year plus more NEW characters and lanterns to enjoy.

Take the zebra crossing through a constellation of stars and stroll through the enchanted forest where you’ll meet our colourful festive characters and catch a glimpse of Santa on his sleigh – the perfect Christmas outing for all generations.

The Lanterns at Chester Zoo is designed and performed by The Lantern Company, creators of spectacular illuminated events across the world, for audiences of all ages.

The Lanterns is always very popular so we recommend that you book early to avoid disappointment.

We can’t wait to see you there. 

You can check our frequently asked questions here.

How to book

Tickets are £9-12.50 for children and £10-15 for adults. Infants age 2 & under are free. Tickets are strictly limited and with the event selling out for the last three years we recommend booking early.

Book tickets now

Timed admissions are available between 4pm and 7.30pm on limited dates:

  • 25-27 November
  • 2 & 3 December
  • 9-11 December
  • 16-23 December

Butterfly - Lanterns - Chester Zoo

What our visitors said about last year

“Last year’s event was fab, but this year was amazing, much more to see and partake in along the way. 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."

Lantern Magic elves
'The Lanterns' is designed and performed by The Lantern Company, creators of spectacular illuminated events.

Frequently asked questions

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

How can I book my ticket?

The easiest way to book is to buy your tickets online on the link below. If you'd prefer you can give us a call on 01244 650209 or pop in to Guest Services.

Book Lanterns tickets here

What dates are available?

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

  • 25-27 November
  • 2 & 3 December
  • 9-11 December
  • 16-23 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 half hour from 4pm to 7.30pm. 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 4pm, 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 new experiences to enjoy.

We’ll be celebrating our local woodland and garden creatures with a host of stunning NEW lantern sculptures and puppets for you to enjoy. Strolling through the enchanted forest you’ll meet our colourful festive characters and catch a glimpse of Santa on his sleigh - a perfect start to the festive season. As part of the event we’re offering a range of winter warmer meals and street food for you to enjoy - see the menus here. 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. 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.

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 (£7.50 adults, £5.50 child). If you haven't pre-booked your meals you can upgrade on the day.

Standard prices Adult (16+) Child (3-15) Under 3s 
25 - 27 November £10 £9 FREE (admission only)
2 & 3 December and 9 - 11 December £12 £10 FREE (admission only)
16 - 23 December £15 £12.50 FREE (admission only) 

Book Lanterns tickets here

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 were 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.

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 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 around 90 mins to complete but you are welcome to stay until the zoo closes at 9pm.

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.