Full guide and review of Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo
The UK’s most popular zoo has launched its Christmas lights event for 2023.
Visitors will be flocking to the festive trail in Cheshire – Lanterns and Light – which is one of the most talked about in the North West of England.
And we were lucky enough to visit on opening night for this review and guide – here is everything you need to know plus our exclusive video.
Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light
What is it?
This animal-themed festive lights trail takes place after opening hours at Chester Zoo.
Visitors walk through new illuminations, lanterns and light installations meeting characters along the way and festive food to buy and enjoy as you go.
Where is it?
Chester Zoo is on the northern outskirts of Chester in North West England.
What did we think?
The lovely lights and music of this trail are a great way to get into the Christmas mood.
It’s quite a relaxing trail, with cute touches and some stunning moments.
*The flickering fire gardens – it was quite breathtaking to see real fire used as opposed to more modern illuminations – in hundreds of little lanterns.
*Person-controlled animal puppets dance and interact with visitors including elephants, an octopus, wild dogs and a rather enthusiastic zebra.
*A woolly mammoth makes a grand entrance on a large 3D projection screen.
*Marshmallow toasting with different flavoured chunky marshmallows including salted caramel, vanilla and chocolate orange.
*A lane filled with larger than life pea-lit animals such as a stag, penguins and a giraffe.
*The children enjoyed a virtual reality experience at the end of the trail.
*Knowing that every ticket helps the zoo in its conservation work supporting projects in more than 20 countries, helping animals to survive and thrive.
*Will you see any animals? You will sadly not get to see any of Chester Zoo’s 27,000 animals – the trail follows a specific route and the animal habitats are all closed. The zoo, a world-leading conservation charity, is home to nearly 600 species, many endangered in the wild and is well worth a visit during normal opening hours – Chester Zoo – our top tips to save you time and money on a family day at this hugely popular attraction for families
*Is Lanterns and Light free for Chester Zoo members? Chester Zoo members pay the same price for tickets as everyone else. Organisers say this is because it is a special event outside usual opening hours which raises funds for the zoo and its mission.
*What to do if you are visiting the zoo in the day – you need to go back to the main entrance at 3.30pm when it closes and wait for your ticket time so book as early as you can.
*What happens if the weather is bad? The event will only be cancelled in extreme weather and you will be contacted in advance.
*What to wear? This is all outdoors so make sure to wrap up warm and bring waterproof clothes.
*There are three little rides for younger children including a carousel, which cost £3 each. The virtual reality experience at the end costs £6 each or £10 for two and there are three different options. Ours enjoyed a Christmas experience where they became an elf – the other two are animal-based.
*You might catch a glimpse of Santa.
Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light information
Dates: It runs on various dates from November 17 to December 31.
Food: There is festive food and drink around the trail to enjoy, mostly within a Christmas Market Foodhall. Stands include pizza, burgers, hot chocolate, popcorn, crumble and giant, stuffed Yorkshire puddings.
You are also allowed to take your own food, just no alcohol.
Opening hours: There are timed tickets every 15 minutes with sessions from 4.15pm to 8pm. The event closes at 9.15pm.
Cost: Prices for Lanterns and Light range from £18 to £22 for adults and £12 to £17 for children, depending on the day. Children under two and carers are free but still need a booked ticket.
Best for: All ages.
Time needed: The trail takes 60 to 90 minutes.
Access and restrictions: The trail is flat but a bit uneven in places, plus it can be hard to see in the dark.
You can hire a mobility scooter or wheelchair by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or a buggy at rentals when you get there.
For guests who need a quieter environment there are quiet times at 4pm on November 18, 23, 24, 25, 29 and December 6, call 01244 380280.
Address: Chester Zoo, Upton-by-Chester, Chester, CH2 1LH. How to get to the zoo.
To book: Lanterns and Light
Parking: Parking is free
Website: Chester Zoo Lanterns and Light