‘Zoolumination: Chinese Festival of Lights’ at the Nashville Zoo


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s the largest attraction the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere has ever produced – “Zoolumination: Chinese Festival of Light.”  

It’s the largest lantern festival in the country.  

Zoolumination opens Friday, November 15, but News 2 recently got a behind the scenes look with Jim Bartoo, Marketing and Public Relations Director, for the Nashville Zoo.  

(Photo: WKRN)

“This is the largest event in the country,” Bartoo explained. “It’s more than 500 lanterns, some of them as tall as 50 feet or more. So, it’s an incredible opportunity to come out at night, see these animals lit up. We’ll have animals, we’ll have traditional Chinese lanterns, we’ll have a North Pole Village area. It’s a really great way to see the zoo during the holiday season.” 

So, just who is behind the magic of creating the spectacular attraction?  

“We have about 50 Chinese Nationals that came in around September, and they’re building this from scratch. They start with a welding process and create the frame, and they’re using different types of welding techniques to do that. Once they have the frame in place, there are some Chinese folks that specialize in wrapping them in different colors of silk, cutting them to precision to make sure that all the intricacies are done. Then they wrap them with foil. All the detail that’s put into it is amazing,” Bartoo explained.  

(Photo: WKRN)

Bartoo said the attraction will be three separate areas.  

“The big draw here is going to be this 200-foot-long dragon. All of this stuff just kind of lights up and glows at night, including this dragon. They have trailer lights across his back that also kind of glow different colors as well, so it’s just really amazing to look at,” he said.  

At the North Pole Village area, attendees will walk through an actual village complete with two-story buildings all lit up as lanterns.  

(Photo: WKRN)

“We’ll have Santa’s reindeer here, we’ll have Santa’s sleigh, and of course Santa will be here to meet with the kids through Dec. 23. We’ll have a giant Polar Express train, a full-size train that you’ll be able to see as well. All of these made from scratch by the Chinese here, and they all light up and it’s going to be a beautiful, beautiful event.”   

And with it being at the zoo, there won’t be a shortage of animal-themed lanterns.  

“You’re going to see a lot of them along this animal pathway, all of them larger than life, and all of them lit up,” Bartoo said.  

(Photo: WKRN)

The “Zoolumination: Chinese Festival of Light” attraction will be open at the Nashville Zoo from Nov. 15 to Feb. 2. The zoo is closed Nov. 28, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. 

Single night admission is $19 for adults and teens. Tickets for children ages two to 12 is $14 and children under the age of two are free. Zoo members save $2 per ticket.  

Platinum passes are also available and allow attendees to enjoy unlimited visits. Tickets for adults and teens are $29 and $19 for children ages two to 12. Children under the age of two are free.  Click here to buy tickets!

Parking is an additional $7 and is free for zoo members. “Zoolumination: Chinese Festival of Light” is a “rain, snow or shine event.” No refunds or rain checks are available.  

Click here for more information.

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