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Asian Lantern Festival: Holiday Lights With a Twist

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In my family we are Christmas light show aficionados. We go to multiple light shows every year during the holidays. There is something about seeing the lights that just brings immediate joy. This year, we went to check out the Asian Lantern Festival at the Central Florida Zoo. This is not your typical holiday light show, and that is definitely a good thing!

Background on The Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is typically celebrated in China on the 15th of the month following the lunar new year. During the festival, houses are decorated with colorful lanterns. There are also parades, fireworks and lion and dragon dances as part of the festival. The lanterns symbolize best wishes for the future and for family.

chinese lantern festival in orlando

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Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild at the Central Florida Zoo

This is the second year that The Asian Lantern Festival is being held at the Central Florida Zoo. In order to ensure that the festival is as authentic as possible, the zoo brought in 15 artisans from China to help create the lanterns. The artisans learned their lantern making skills from their parents and grandparents.

The festival features more than 30 handmade sculptures and multiple lanterns placed on a walking trail around the zoo. Even better, some of the sculptures are animatronic. My kids were excited to see an animatronic whale, birds flapping their wings, butterflies moving and more. Two of our favorite activities/exhibits were interactive ones. By a crab sculpture, they had dry ice bubbles to help give the feeling of being under water. The kids loved running around and popping the bubbles. Their second favorite was the light up swing pods. They happily swung in them for about 5 minutes while the colors changed around them.

A lot of the sculptures featured animals and creatures from Chinese mythology. By the sculptures there was a sign with information describing the features of each. My son really enjoyed reading the descriptions and was really excited when he recognized some of the mythical creatures and could tell me about them (thanks Brain Pop!)

orlando christmas light display

orlando holiday light show

There were also a few walkways that were lit by traditional Chinese lanterns. The adults will really appreciate the craftsmanship of the lanterns and the peacefulness of the walkways. The kids liked them, but were eager to get back to the sculptures.

How much time will I spend at the Asian Lantern Festival?

The entire trail took us about 1 hour to do and that was with stops to grab something to eat and time playing with the bubbles and on the swings. We were moving quickly at points, so if your group is a bit more relaxed, I would add another 30 minutes or so.

Good to know

There will be food for sale at the festival, including potstickers, egg rolls, barbeque pork and funnel cake. There are also beverages, both the kid and adult kind, for sale as well.


A family four pack of tickets is $60

Individual tickets are $18.50 – $20.00 per person depending on the date.

Tickets need to be purchased in advance and are separate from regular zoo admission.

Dates and Times

The festival is being held every Thursday through Sunday until January 16. During holiday weeks, the festival is held every day except on the actual holiday.

Go or No Go

With a total of 6 thumbs up from me and the kids, this is a definite go for the holiday season.

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