Date and time

Selected dates from Friday 22 November - Monday 23 December


Child tickets start from £5.50 Adult tickets start from £10.50


Chester Zoo


This Christmas, something magical is happening at Chester Zoo as our enchanting festive event, The Lanterns, returns for 2019.  Join us as we transform the zoo into a spectacular wonderland, full of sparkle, illumination and a sprinkling of snow! 

Set off on The Great Christmas Expedition to discover exotic illuminated wildlife and animal characters in nine different fantastical worlds; each one different to the last – from traditional festive scenes to colourful animal-inspired illuminations.  This year the updated route will take you on a journey through new worlds that will have your imagination running wild.

You’ll be transported to the bottom of the sea in Underwater where you’ll need to dodge the jellyfish and fish before coming face to face with a HUGE octopus!  Then make your way through Tropical Dreams which will be a dramatic centrepiece, complete with new beautiful lanterns.  Then suspend belief as you take the Night Sky Adventure and travel through the clouds and stars, under the moonlight.

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Together with some of our favourite favourite animal lanterns from Christmases gone by, The Lanterns will fill you with Christmas cheer and plenty of precious memories, as well as delicious festive food. And remember to keep an eye out for Father Christmas…he could be just around the corner.



Don’t miss out!

See the zoo in a different, more twinkly, light and explore a magical festive wonderland!  Selected dates are available from Friday 22 November – Monday 23 December.


For all your other Lanterns-related questions, check out our FAQs below.

Corporate Christmas Events

If you’re looking to book for a work event, why not select one of our corporate Christmas event packages? Perfect for both daytime and night-time, you can either make the most of the winter sun or dance the night away with a glass of bubbles, both with a three-course meal from our Executive Head Chef.

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Christmas Lunch at Chester Zoo

Want to enjoy a whole festive day at the zoo? Why not combine the beautiful sights of the lanterns with the yummy smells of Christmas lunch, cooked exclusively by our Executive Head Chef. With three mouth-watering courses and plenty of tipples, bring the family for a sensational seasonal feast.

Find Out More

Frequently Asked Questions
How can I book my ticket?
There are a number of ways you can book your tickets.
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.
What dates are available?
Ticket availability can be viewed on our booking page.
The Lanterns event will be on the following dates in November and December: Friday 22 November, Saturday 23 November, Sunday 24 November, Friday 29 November, Saturday 30 November, Sunday 1 December, Friday 6 December, Saturday 7 December, Sunday 8 December, Thursday 12 December, Friday 13 December, Saturday 14 December, Sunday 15 December, Wednesday 18 December, Thursday 19 December, Friday 20 December, Saturday 21 December, Sunday 22 December, Monday 23 December.
What are the opening and closing times for this event?
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.
Why are there allocated times to arrive?
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.
What's included in the ticket?
Your ticket includes entry to a pre-booked session of The Lanterns. You’ll be invited to take The Great Christmas Expedition through the zoo - exploring 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 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. 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.
What if we want to come as a group?
The more the merrier!
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 30 November - 23 December (excluding Thursday 19 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.
How much is it?
Children aged 2 and under are FREE, however this is for admission only and doesn't include any food or drinks. 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. There will also be a range of delicious festive food and drink options that can be purchased on the evening – 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 though.
How 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. Please retain your confirmation email including the barcode as the barcode is required to redeem any purchases you make, like buggies.
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. This also includes the food and drink offer during Lanterns.
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 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 around 60 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.
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 guide you around the lantern route. For safety reasons we ask that people stick to the route.
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 below (see footer of webpage).
Will I be able to take photographs?
You are more than welcome to take photographs along the route. 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?
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 the main Chester Zoo website.
What accessibility facilities do you have?
We're a fully accessible visitor attraction. There's free disabled parking at the main entrance, and we also offer free wheelchair and electric scooter hire (subject to availability) - booking is essential. Please call our team on 01244 389482 to pre-book. We also have accessible toilet facilities available around the Lanterns route. 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. For more information about accessibility at the zoo, please take a look at the 'Plan Your Visit' section of the website.