Last night I went to the Calgary Zoo to experience Illuminasia with my family. For those of you who do not know what Illuminasia is, it is an Asian lantern festival held at the zoo. It is a celebration of food, art, culture, gardens and animals. This was the second year that they have held this beautiful event, and the lanterns were just as beautiful as it’s first year. I actually found the displays to be even more extravagant.
Each year, the zoo picks a theme for the lanterns. Last year, it was India, China, and Japan. They had themed weeks that focused on each of these countries throughout the course of the festival. There were cooking classes, art classes, and exciting entertainment for the whole family.
This year, the festival celebrates the seasons Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall as well as the four noble plants of the Chinese culture. There are lots of wonderful displays that depict the themes, with vibrant colors, beautiful flowers and intricately designed animals. The festival starts at 7, which is pretty late for my one year olds who like to go to bed early. We weren’t sure how they would fare with a late night, but they loved it!! Every time we went past some lanterns, they would point and say ‘wow!’.
My son, who is 3 also loved the lanterns. What young child doesn’t like pretty lights? It was fun quizzing him on the different animals and teaching him about the plants. As a perk, they sell flashing light sticks which my kids LOVED! There really is something for the whole family.
For adults without kids, they have paid programs that you can do in the evening and some entertainment later in the evening as well.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out Illuminasia, I highly recommend you do it. You can check out the Calgary Zoo’s website for information on tickets and other programs that they have during their Illuminasia festival. My husband and I actually prefer it to their zoo lights!
Here are some photos of the beautiful lanterns.