Ben HaywardSeptember 2nd

To help it live up to its billing as the ‘most magical time of the year, Chester Zoo’s festival of lanterns is returning to bring us all a bit of festive cheer.

The magical spectacle sees the zoo transformed into an enchanting winter wonderland, with lantern animals of all shapes and sizes illuminating the space.

Visitors are invited to go on ‘The Great Christmas Expedition’ to discover nine incredible worlds of exotic illuminated wildlife in everything from traditional festive scenes to colourful animal-inspired illuminations.


But this year things are even better - there’s an updated route including new worlds such as Underwater, which transports guests to the ocean floor, bringing them face-to-face with a huge lantern octopus.

Other worlds include Tropical Dreams with ‘a dramatic centrepiece, complete with new beautiful lanterns’ and Night Sky Adventure where you'll ‘travel through the clouds and stars, under the moonlight.’


Ideal for kids, the event will also feature snow and even a possible sighting of the big man himself (Santa Claus) and visitors will be able to warm their wintry cockles with festive hot food and drinks on sale.

If you want to book tickets you can get them here.


While the lantern festival may be aimed at kids, just this week the zoo hosted an adults only ‘gin night’ based around the world of plant conservation.   

A member of the zoo’s Botany and Horticulture team took guests behind the scenes into the orchid greenhouse and then on into Foragers Garden, where visitors had the opportunity to learn all about the edible plants as well as the history of the planting.

This was followed up with a tasting of their specially-created botany inspired gin cocktails and canapes in the zoo's restaurant, The Oakfield, while an expert explained the role of the plants in creating the special drinks.


Chester Zoo's Curator of Botany and Horticulture, Phil Esseen, said: “Everyone knows that the zoo is a world leader in animal care and conservation, but scratch beneath the surface and you'll find a hidden zoo, full of delicate flowers and incredible gardens.

"Indeed, the zoo is home to over 900 different species of orchid, many critically endangered; boasts three National Collections of cacti and many truly unique UK native species.

"As a conservation charity, we are determined to prevent the extinction of threatened species, and that includes plants. We're always keen to inspire our visitors into helping us protect rare plants, as well as animal species.

"For many of us, understanding the importance of botany in gin seems a good place to start!”

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