Illuminasia lights up the Calgary Zoo

Last Updated on September 16, 2015 by Irene Seto

Illuminasia Calgary Zoo rhino

Magnificent rhinos are just one of the highlights at the Illuminasia Lantern & Garden Festival at the Calgary Zoo.

When I first heard about a Chinese lantern festival coming to the Calgary Zoo, I imagined a string of paper lights hanging around the buildings lit up in decorative colors. Simple and pretty right? But the Illuminasia Lantern and Garden Festival is so much more! Touted as “an experience like no other” the lanterns are actually beautiful and intricately created pieces of art highlighting many of the zoo’s animals and showcasing other cultural icons that represent the China, Japan and India themes of the 7 week festival.

The lantern sculptures were created by a group of Chinese artisans who spent months and months painstakingly creating each of the 366 lanterns that run all around the Zoo. One lantern zebra requires a crew of six people all day to set up! Some of the lanterns move as well, adding even more life to these vibrant pieces.

While these pieces are meant to light up the night, they are also amazing to see in the day. I highly recommend going as early as possible so you can see the lanterns both in the daylight and into the evening.

Illuminasia Calgary flamingos

The flamingoes look almost real from this viewpoint.

Illuminasia Calgary Zoo giraffe

I know I’m small but these giraffes are really big!

Illuminasia Calgary Zoo kangaroo

A kangaroo with a baby joey in it’s pouch.

Illuminasia Calgary Zoo pandas

Cute pandas!

Illuminasia Calgary Zoo dinosaurs


Illuminasia Calgary Zoo monkeys

Monkeying around.

Illuminasia Calgary Zoo penguins

I love penguins!


Illuminasia Calgary Zoo China lion dance

In addition to the lanterns, there are evening entertainment performances. During the China experience, a group of lion dancers and drummers perform a lively routine.

Illuminasia Calgary Zoo baboon

You can’t tell very well in this picture but the baboon has a cute pink behind. Tee hee.

Illuminasia Calgary zoo kangaroos light up

Now the kangaroos are all lit up and stand out in the dark.

Illuminasia Calgary Zoo elephants

Each elephant is a different color!

Illuminasia Calgary Zoo lion pride

Beautiful lion pride family

Illuminasia Calgary zoo flamingoes light up

And back around to the flamingoes. This is one of the most stunning displays at Iluminasia.

Illuminsasia runs Thursday through Sunday evenings. Packages are available for each country experience, combinations with Zoolights and family discounts for Sunday evenings.

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