ILLUMINASIA 2015 – The Calgary Zoo Presents Amazing Lantern Festival

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The Calgary Zoo has launched a six-week Lantern and Garden Festival that will be an annual event leading up to the arrival of the Giant Pandas in 2018. Constructed and hand-painted by artisans in China and then reassembled on-site, the lanterns represent some of the zoo’s most beloved animals as well as some that are culturally symbolic in Asia.

The lanterns at the Calgary Zoo are magical in the daytime too!

The lanterns at the Calgary Zoo are magical in the daytime too!

I walked through the Dorothy Harvie Gardens at around 5pm and felt the magic of the lanterns even though it was still light and the lanterns were not lit. Later on, hot chocolate in hand, I enjoyed the lanterns again as they lit up the zoo under the night skies. Larger than life, some realistic while others are cartoonish, ILLUMINASIA’s lanterns and the programming throughout the zoo are unique and mesmerizing.

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The stripes on the tigers are airbrushed while the detailed faces are hand-drawn.

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Who can resist the cuteness of these Panda’s? These drew a huge crowd of admirers.

One of my favourite lantern installations is out on the water--the reflection added to the magic.

One of my favourite lantern installations is out on the water–the reflection added to the magic.

What you should know before you go:

ILLUMINASIA runs Thursday through Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. While that may be a little late for young children with early bedtimes, it is a perfect date night destination.

We are having one of the warmest winters yet (Thank you El Nino and climate change!), but you still want to dress warm enough to sit outdoors on the hay bale seats and enjoy some of the cultural programming. Currently featured is India and you will want to watch the Bollywood dancers for a few of the many numbers they are performing from 8:05 p.m. to 8:50 p.m. each night. MORE INFO HERE.

Don’t miss the Enmax Conservatory and Butterfly Garden–look up to see beautiful hanging lanterns!

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