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Zoolumination Shines and Lights Up the Night at the Nashville Zoo

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Dusk descended at the Nashville Zoo as we strolled through the Welcoming Arch at the front of the complex. This colorful structure was only the start of an evening of enchantment as Zoolumination made its exciting return to Music City in the fall of 2023. This exceptional exhibit will run from November 17, 2023 through February 04, 2024.


This year's dragon greeted visitors at the Festival Field.

Zoolumination is one of the largest Chinese lantern festivals in the States. This is the third time that the Nashville Zoo has hosted this expansive event. This year is even bigger and brighter with over 1,000 freshly crafted, silk Chinese lanterns. So, even if you have attended a previous festival you will be treated to many new themes.

Fauna and flowers are prominently displayed throughout Zoolumination blending in brilliantly with the natural environment of the Zoo. One of our favorite examples of this is the flamingo pond where the live birds are surrounded by pink lights.


This Lotus flower tunnel illuminated one of this year's many themes.

China is a county with a rich culture. They have traditions that are passed on through the generations and are often celebrated in modern times. A number of the lanterns are dedicated to goddesses including one who upon her return to heaven gifted the lotus flower to the old man who raised her. We learned this by reading one of the many informative signs that accompany the art. Near this creative goddess was a wonderful tunnel of lotus flower lanterns for all to enjoy.

The Chinese zodiac was explained with depictions of the 12 animals and their traits. Visitors can look up their year on the placards to find their sign. We are a snake and a sheep. Scheduled throughout the night are dance performances that are also feats of balance. The dance along with signage give folks some additional exposure to Chinese customs. As you wander through the colorful wonders of Zoolumination take your time to look at the lights as there is a lot of attention to details woven into their distinctive designs.


With three new Tiger cub arrivals - it really is the Year of the Tiger in Nashville.

This is especially true at the Festival Field where some of the most dramatic displays are located. These large-scale lanterns include a daunting dragon, multi-layered structures where animals, birds and flowers flourish and scenes depicting harvesting and playing music. During the Christmas season folks can visit the North Pole where the lights reflect holiday and whimsical winter themes.

Most of the animals go to bed before dark. However, the elusive Andean bear, the Sumatran tiger and the flamingos are out and Unseen New World is open all night. Zoolumination is a walk-through experience like no other with over 1,000 custom made silk lanterns in dazzling displays that are sure to enchant and educate kids of all ages.


Scenes from Zoolumination 2023 at the Nashville Zoo.

Zigong Lantern Group is a global company and leader in lantern arts with their manufacturing hub located in Zigong, also known as "Lantern City" in China. Zigong Lantern Group has a worldwide reach and has won many awards for their designs. Their partner, the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, exemplifying the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. They are actively involved in breeding programs, conservation, education, habitat protection, and more.

The Zoo located at 3777 Nolensville Pike is one of Middle Tennessee's top ranking tourist attractions. So, check out the Nashville Zoo during the day or come at night for Zoolumination.


Music City even got the Chinese lantern treatment this year.

Related Links: For more information on ZOOLUMINATION and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Nashville Zoo | Zigong Lantern Group | Zoolumination Is Off to a Roaring Start In Spectacular Return to Nashville Zoo | Zoolumination Is Enchanting and Enlightening in Music City


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