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Zoolumination Is Enchanting and Enlightening in Music City

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Dusk descended on the Nashville Zoo as we walked through the magnificent Memorial Arch at the front of the complex. The colorful structure was only the start of what would prove to be a night of enchantment as Zoolumination - which is currently the largest Chinese Lantern Festival in the U.S. - made its much anticipated debut in Music City on November 15, 2019.

Zoolumination Is Enchanting and Enlightening in Music City
A new reptile takes up residence at the Nashville Zoo until February 2020.

Zigong Lantern Group are the visionaries behind this lavish collection of lantern exhibits that are handmade in Zigong, China and then presented globally in an effort to share Chinese culture to the world. Zigong has over 20 years Chinese Lantern Festival experience (in China), 13 years overseas, and 7 years stateside. They have become the best in the business and their expertise is on full display at the Nashville Zoo through February 02, 2020.

The history of Chinese lanterns dates back to the Eastern Han dynasty in 25-220 AD. Lanterns were first used as a way to protect flames from catching anything on fire because of the wind, but over time they have transformed into a tradition of celebration. Zoolumination embodies all aspects of an authentic lantern festival including performers from China who will amaze guests with their acrobatic, balancing and juggling skills.

Zoolumination Is Enchanting and Enlightening in Music City
Lions, dragons, reptiles and Chinese dancers were all part of the memorable exhibit in Music City.

This Chinese Lantern Festival flows by themes. Animal Paradise is a colorful display of critters in their natural habitats. Birds such as Mandarin ducks, peacocks and the red crowned crane glow in their lantern glory as does the lion king. We also spotted lantern pandas in a bamboo grove. The North Pole Village is home to an elf town, reindeer, lots of lovely lights and the revered Man in Red.

Zoolumination is extremely well thought out. As we walked around in wonder we noticed that the environment was incorporated into the exhibit. At the Flamingo Lagoon there were both lantern and live birds. Tiger Crossroads embraced the same concept. In most cases the animals were in for the night but reptiles that have a home indoors were on site as was some alpacas and pigs who were out with their handlers to say hello to folks on opening night.

The Charm of China showcases the culture and traditions of the county in grand style. Some of many highlights in this area are a gigantic blue and white tea set, Kylins made out of small bottles filled with an array of colorful liquids and a stunning circular structure. Yet, the most impressive piece of all is the 200 foot long dragon that changes colors.

Zoolumination Is Enchanting and Enlightening in Music City
Animals and colorful displays revealed the glorious handiwork of the Zigong Lantern Group.

In addition to all the amazing handcrafted lanterns of fauna and flora, Zoolumination features round lanterns hung above walk ways and many trees are wrapped in lights. A lot of attention to details is incorporated into these dazzling displays along with information panels thus making Zoolumination an enchanting and even educational event for all!

Zoolumination's hosts are also one of the best in their field. The Nashville Zoo's goal is "to inspire a culture of understanding and discovery of our natural world through conservation, innovation and leadership." Since opening in 1991, the Zoo has grown from a small private operation to an AZA-accredited facility that welcomes over one million visitors each year, while being involved with international conservation and research efforts to save threatened species. A full day can be spent at this TN top tourist destination as there are lots of animals to interact with and see. The Nashville Zoo located at 3777 Nolensville Pike is about 6 miles from Downtown thus it's convenient and fun for the whole family with Zoolumination as an added bonus to their winter calendar.

Zoolumination Is Enchanting and Enlightening in Music City
One of several new illuminated structures built for Zoolumination.

Related Links: For more information on ZOOLUMINATION and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Zigong Lantern Group | Nashville Zoo

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