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Zoolumination Is Off to a Roaring Start In Spectacular Return to Nashville Zoo

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Zoolumination is back at the Nashville Zoo and it is bigger and brighter than ever. We had the pleasure of attending the first ever of its kind at the Zoo in 2019. At that time, we were totally enchanted with the colorful and culturally-rich displays. Fast-forward to 2022 for even more majesty and magic.


One of several wondrous dragons at Zoolumination.

The Nashville Zoo has once again joined forces with Zigong Lantern Group to craft and implement Zoolumination. Around 35 Chinese artists, construction workers and welders from Zigong Lantern Group arrived in August to design and build the lanterns that are set up throughout the Zoo. All are illuminated by environmentally-friendly LED lights. Zigong - whose aim is to share Chinese customs with the world - are one of the best in their field.

You know that you are in for something special as you approach the eye catching arch at the entrance of the Zoo. Visitors are greeted with good luck by "Cranes in Spring" which flows into vivid flowers mixed in with the natural fauna. Many of the real trees are dressed in lights enhancing the wonders of the walkways - many of which are tunnels of lanterns. One of our favorites was the beguiling butterflies. "Win Fish" was another exhibit packed with symbols of good will. We learned this fact from the signage that many of the displays have so that folks can gain a better understanding of the legends behind these inspired pieces.


A traditional Chinese village came to life at Zoolumination.

"Night in Chang'an" welcomed us to a fun festive in a Chinese village that led into the holiday themed section with Christmas trees, penguins, reindeers and smiling snowmen but the most impressive was not one but two daunting yet delightful dragons. Leaving the field the path led us through the Milky Way and a magnificent display of mushrooms with a lot of attention to detail which was noticeable throughout Zoolumination.

Zoolumination is made possible by many corporate and individual sponsors. We chuckled at the point that a Mr. Peacock had supported a wonderful lantern show of these flamboyant birds. Near the tiger den was a number of angelic-looking tigers with wings as the real-life specimen roared her approval from her close-by range. A sea themed scene was even more impressive as it was built over water for a mirror image of turtles, whales and more. It is clear that the artisans took great care in creating concepts that worked in the natural environment, so it was not surprising that pretty pink lights paved the way to the pond where the flamingos were. We got a kick out of one strutting around knowing that he/she was taller than its counterparts.


Several angelic looking tigers stood guard near the Zoo's own Bengal beauty.

Zoolumination is the largest Chinese Lantern Festival with over 1,000 custom made silk lanterns. This walk through experience stars mythical creatures found in cheerful, colorful scenes along with a holiday themed village that will include visits with Santa thorough December 24th. Most of the animals go to bed before dark. However, Andean bear, Sumatran tiger and flamingos can stay up until 8:30 p.m. plus Unseen New World is open all night.

Zoolumination's is one of many events that the Nashville Zoo hosts. Their goal is "to inspire a culture of understanding and discovery of our natural world through conservation, innovation and leadership." The Nashville Zoo started off in the early 1990s as a small AZA-accredited facility that has expanded with more exhibits over the years.


Underwater scenes dominated the landscape near the pond at Zoolumination.

The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is also actively involved with international conservation and research efforts to save threatened species. A whole day can be spent at this TN top tourist destination as there are plenty of animals to interact with and see. The expansive and expanding facility is located about 6 miles from Downtown thus it is convenient and fun for the whole family with Zoolumination as an added bonus to their winter schedule.

Zoolumination runs nightly November 18th, 2022 through January 08, 2023 and Thursday through Sunday January 12th-February 04, 2023. So there are plenty of opportunities to visit this vibrant display at the Nashville Zoo located at 3777 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, Tennessee.


More development in Nashville at Zoolumination as this colorful building adorned festival field.

Related Links: For more information on ZOOLUMINATION and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Nashville Zoo | Zigong Lantern Group.com | Zoolumination Is Enchanting and Enlightening in Music City | There's Always Something New at the Nashville Zoo


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