Chester Zoo Christmas – Lanterns and Light


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Get ready to embark on a luminous adventure at Chester Zoo Christmas, also known as Lanterns and Light, in Chester, UK. This annual festival of lights transforms the zoo into an ethereal wonderland, complete with animal-shaped light installations, twinkling trees, and an array of mesmerizing displays. From how to get there to where to feast and rest, we’ve got your complete guide to making the most of this magical holiday event.

Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo
Festival highlights

About the Lights Festival

Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo is not just another holiday event; it’s a seasonal spectacle that transforms the zoo into a radiant universe where art meets light. This annual tradition has become a hallmark of the holiday season in Chester, offering a perfect setting for families and friends to gather, celebrate, and create lasting memories.

Featured Lighting Displays

Wondering what makes this festival so enchanting? Here’s a breakdown of some of the eye-catching lighting displays you’ll encounter:

  • Glowing Christmas Trees: Evergreens bathed in festive colors
  • Illuminated Animal Sculptures: From glowing giraffes to luminous lions
  • Illuminated Pathways: Walkways that guide you through a cascade of light
  • Larger than Life Light Art Installations: Monuments of brilliance you have to see to believe
  • Illuminated Puppets: Characters that come to life, glowing in the dark
  • Hanging Lanterns: Suspended orbs of light that create a celestial atmosphere
  • Fairy Lights: Strings of delicate lights that add a whimsical touch
  • 3D Projection: Visual marvels that give depth and character to surfaces
  • Forest of Light: An entire wooded area transformed into an ethereal landscape
  • Winter Cathedral Tunnel of Lights: A mesmerizing passage enveloped in a divine glow

Other Activities to Explore

But wait, there’s more! Lanterns and Light at Chester Zoo also offers additional activities that promise to make your visit even more enjoyable:

  • Shopping at the Zoo’s Store: From stuffed toys to memorabilia, find the perfect memento
  • Toasting Marshmallows: What’s better than a warm, gooey treat on a cold evening?
  • Photography Opportunities: Capture the splendor with photos that’ll make your social media feed shine

So there you have it! Lanterns and Light offers something for everyone, making it a must-see event during the holiday season.

Festival Dates (2023)

Good news for those itching to plan their holiday outings—Chester Zoo Christmas runs from November 17 to December 31, 2023. That gives you ample time to soak in the spectacle, perhaps even more than once! Mark those calendars and start planning your visit to catch the best of what this wondrous festival has to offer.

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The dazzling zoo lights can be found at Chester Zoo, located in Chester, United Kingdom. The setting could not be more ideal—a venue that blends natural beauty with artistic innovation to create a festival unlike any other.

When it comes to reaching this enchanting locale, you have various options at your disposal. The nearest airport is Liverpool John Lennon Airport, which is approximately 25 miles from Chester Zoo. Once you land, you can opt for a direct taxi, catch a local bus, or even rent a car to make your way to the zoo.

Getting to Chester from Other Cities by Train

  • From London: Trains from London Euston to Chester usually take around 2 hours. They are operated by Avanti West Coast and Transport for Wales.
  • From Manchester: Trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Chester take approximately 1 hour and are often run by Northern Rail and Transport for Wales.
  • From Birmingham: You can catch a direct train from Birmingham New Street to Chester, typically taking just under 2 hours, operated by Transport for Wales.
  • From Liverpool: Trains from Liverpool Lime Street to Chester are frequent, taking about 45 minutes, and are run by Merseyrail and Transport for Wales.
  • From Cardiff: Direct services from Cardiff Central to Chester take about 3 hours, operated by Transport for Wales.

Remember, visit the respective train company’s official website for up-to-date information on train schedules and ticket prices.

Looking for more lights in the UK? Check out London Zoo Nights 

Festival Hours

When it comes to experiencing the wonder of Chester Zoo Christmas, timing is everything. The festival opens its enchanting gates at 4:15 PM and keeps the magic alive until 9:15 PM. And if you’re one of those folks who loves to make an entrance fashionably late, keep in mind that the last entry is at 8:15 PM. That’s plenty of time to explore the illuminated pathways, marvel at the twinkling trees, and maybe even make a few furry or feathered friends along the way.

Cost to Visit

Ready to light up your holiday season without burning a hole in your pocket? The Chester Zoo Christmas festival offers a variety of ticket options tailored for everyone:

  • Adults: Tickets for adults range from $22.12 to $27.04.
  • Children: For the little light enthusiasts, tickets range from $14.75 to $20.89.

But wait, there’s a glowing deal: Children under 2 years and their carers can enjoy the festival for free! However, it’s important to note that even though admission is complimentary, you’ll still need to book tickets for them.

Tickets can easily be purchased online, ensuring a seamless entry to this captivating light festival. For more information on tickets and pricing, visit the zoo’s official website.

Weather and What to Wear

So, what’s the weather like in Chester from November to December when the festival is in full swing? Well, the climate during these months can be quite chilly, with temperatures generally ranging from 2°C to 8°C. While the air might be crisp, the festival atmosphere is nothing short of warm and inviting.

Recommended Clothing

To ensure you can comfortably enjoy the zoo lights and all the festival has to offer, here’s a list of suggested attire:

  • Thermal Layers: Starting with a good thermal layer can make all the difference.
  • Insulated Jacket: A good, insulated jacket is your best friend against the Chester chill.
  • Winter Boots: Choose boots that are not only warm but also provide good traction, as pathways can be slippery.
  • Hats and Gloves: A warm hat and a pair of gloves can go a long way in keeping you cozy.
  • Scarves: These aren’t just fashion statements; they can really keep the cold at bay.
  • Umbrella: The UK is known for its occasional drizzles, so an umbrella might come in handy.

Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby

After a day of light-filled adventure, you’ll need a cozy place to rest your head; luckily, Chester offers a range of hotels to fit any budget and preference.

Chester Grosvenor

Address: Eastgate St, Chester CH1 1LT, United Kingdom
Location: Just a 10-minute drive from Chester Zoo
Description: If luxury is what you’re after, look no further than the Chester Grosvenor. This hotel oozes elegance, offering plush rooms and top-notch service.
Amenities: Along with free Wi-Fi, guests can enjoy a full-service spa, fine dining options, and 24-hour room service.

Holiday Inn Chester South

Address: Wrexham Rd, Chester CH4 9DL, United Kingdom
Location: Only a 5-minute drive away from the zoo
Description: For those seeking affordability without compromising on comfort, Holiday Inn Chester South is an excellent choice.
Amenities: The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, an indoor pool, a fitness center, and an on-site restaurant serving local and international cuisine.

Brook Mollington Banastre Hotel & Spa

Address: 1 Parkgate Rd, Mollington, Chester CH1 6NN, United Kingdom
Location: A quick 7-minute drive to Chester Zoo
Description: The Brook Mollington Banastre Hotel & Spa is perfect for visitors who want more than just a bed for the night.
Amenities: Aside from the obligatory free Wi-Fi, the hotel also features a well-equipped spa, an indoor swimming pool, and a range of dining options.

What to Eat

When you’re not feasting your eyes on the festival’s visual treats, you’ll want to check out some of Chester’s culinary delights.

Sticky Walnut

Location: 11 Charles Street, Hoole, Chester CH2 3AZ, United Kingdom
Description: Sticky Walnut is a highly acclaimed spot, perfect for those who appreciate modern British cuisine.
Foods: The menu includes everything from delectable starters like pan-fried scallops to hearty mains such as lamb shank, all crafted with seasonal and local ingredients.

The Architect

Location: 54 Nicholas St, Chester CH1 2NX, United Kingdom
Description: Situated in the heart of Chester, The Architect is a classic English pub that serves more than just a pint.
Foods: Here you can enjoy traditional pub fare like fish and chips, steak and ale pie, and a selection of gourmet burgers that pair perfectly with their extensive list of beers and ales.

Atina Kitchen

Location: 103 Foregate St, Chester CH1 1HE, United Kingdom
Description: If you’re in the mood for a more relaxed, café-style meal, Atina Kitchen is your go-to spot.
Foods: Known for its cozy atmosphere, the café offers an array of breakfast and brunch items, including avocado toast, fluffy pancakes, and artisan coffee to kickstart your day.

More Things To Do In The Area

After illuminating your spirit at the Chester Zoo Christmas festival, you might be eager to explore other gems Chester has to offer.

Chester Cathedral

Location: 9 Abbey Square, Chester CH1 2HU, United Kingdom
Description: This magnificent structure is not only an architectural masterpiece but also a treasure trove of history and culture.
Activities: You can take guided tours to learn about the cathedral’s rich history, enjoy musical concerts, or even participate in workshops and educational programs designed for all ages.

River Dee

Location: Running through the heart of Chester
Description: The River Dee offers scenic beauty and a tranquil setting perfect for a leisurely day.
Activities: Whether it’s boat trips, kayaking, or simply strolling along the picturesque riverbanks, the River Dee has something for everyone. Some walking routes even offer panoramic views of the city.

Grosvenor Museum

Location: 27 Grosvenor St, Chester CH1 2DD, United Kingdom
Description: This museum is a haven for those interested in local history, art, and culture.
Activities: It houses a range of exhibits, from Roman artifacts to period costumes, and frequently hosts special exhibitions. The museum also offers interactive displays, making it a fun destination for families with children.

A Final Sparkle: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Visit to Chester Zoo Christmas

As the nights grow longer and the air turns crisp, Chester Zoo Christmas emerges as a beacon of holiday joy, lighting up not just the skies but also the faces of everyone who visits. From the glowing pathways to the forest of light, this festival truly has something for every age and interest. 

Whether it’s your first time or an annual tradition, this Festival of Lights promises to make your holiday season unforgettable. So bundle up, grab your tickets, and come be a part of a Christmas light show that will warm your heart and light up your soul.


1. Is there parking available at the festival?

Yes, there is ample parking available at Chester Zoo, and it’s located conveniently near the festival’s main entrance. Parking is usually included in the ticket price, but it’s best to check the official website for the most current information.

2. Can I smoke at the festival?

Smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, is strictly prohibited within the festival grounds to ensure the comfort and safety of all visitors. Designated smoking areas can be found outside the main entrances.

3. Are pets allowed?

Unfortunately, pets are not allowed at Chester Zoo during the festival. The only exception is for certified service animals, which must be registered prior to your visit.

4. Is the festival accessible for those with mobility issues?

Yes, the festival grounds are wheelchair accessible, and there are also a limited number of wheelchairs available for rent at the main entrance. It is advised to book these in advance.

5. Do I need to print my ticket?

No, electronic tickets are accepted. Simply show your ticket on your smartphone at the entrance.

6. What happens if it rains?

The festival takes place rain or shine. Many of the displays are designed to be weather-resistant, but it’s a good idea to check the weather forecast and dress accordingly.

7. Is food and drink available at the festival?

Yes, there are a variety of food and drink vendors within the festival grounds. Options range from hot beverages to keep you warm, to full meals and sweet treats.

8. Are there any age restrictions?

Chester Zoo Christmas is a family-friendly event suitable for all ages. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times during the festival.

While this article aims to answer questions and concerns about the zoo lights, it is always best to visit the zoo’s official website for more details and up-to-date information.


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