11 Oct 2021

Join us for a unique Christmas trail in the zoo after hours! Enjoy our spectacular illuminations, colourful lanterns and encounter enchanting costumed characters along the way!

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Now in its tenth year, visitors are given the unique opportunity to experience the zoo after hours on a set trail in the dark – taking them through spectacular illuminations and colourful lanterns, encountering ENCHANTING costumed characters along the way.

This year’s festivities will bring brand new illuminated characters featuring orangutans, butterflies, caterpillars and wolves as well as a 90th birthday light show. Visitors will be taken on a journey through time as they explore the zoo’s history. The event will support our crucial work as a wildlife conservation charity and will help with its recovery following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


“We can’t wait to welcome visitors back to our very special Christmas event, The Lanterns. It’s become a firm favourite and something of a family tradition for so many people now and this year will be more MAGNIFICENT and magical than ever. The event will see the zoo transform into a spectacular winter wonderland, where guests will be welcomed into an exotic world of colour and movement, where larger than life illuminations and animal characters await.”

Senior Admissions and Retail Manager, Gemma Bamford.


“This year’s theme is all about shining a light on species that face a fight for survival in the wild, where numbers of many of these incredible animals are plummeting to worryingly low levels. Never-before-seen illuminations of orangutans, butterflies, caterpillars and wolves are just a few of the species that will feature as part of our ‘into the wild’ theme.

“It’s the zoo’s 90th birthday year and so another hugely exciting new area will celebrate our anniversary through a special light show. It’ll take our visitors on a journey through time as they explore our history.

“Lots of firm family favourites will also be returning this year, like Father Christmas, the zebras, elephants and lions who are sure to put on a fantastic show.”

The Christmas celebration, which has previously received widespread public acclaim, will again have a RESTRICTED capacity this year due to the ongoing global Covid-19 situation. However, the zoo will be offering MORE timed entry slots than ever before, providing more people with an opportunity to enjoy the festive fun!


Gemma added:

“It’s been another strange and challenging year for everyone and so we’re just thrilled to be able to provide our guests with some much needed Christmas cheer. We know how much people are looking forward to getting out and about this Christmas and doing something special with their loved ones, so we’ve added five extra nights and more time slots this time around – giving more opportunities for people to come and see The Lanterns.

“This event is an important step on the road to our recovery after all of the different challenges we’ve faced in recent times and will help us raise valuable funds, supporting us to continue our mission of preventing extinction all around the world.”

The Lanterns has been created by the zoo in partnership with multi award-winning outdoor arts producers, Wild Rumpus.

Tickets are on sale for selected dates from Friday 12 November – Thursday 23 December 2021 with slots available from 4pm – 8.15pm. Child tickets start from £11 and adult tickets start from £13.


Christmas Time at Chester Zoo!

We’re busy pulling together lots of wonderful ideas to bring you some Chester Zoo magic this season! Browse the online shop for zoo-inspired gifts, earn FREE donations for Chester zoo with your online shopping and experience the zoo like never before!

It’s time to start the FESTIVE FUN!

Plan an unforgettable corporate Christmas party!

Enjoy an extraordinary evening at The Oakfield, located at the heart of the zoo. A relaxed, yet grand and elegant pub style setting with great food, entertainment, music and all of the sparkle that you’d expect.

Get in touch with our team today!