Hundreds of colorful, colossal Chinese lantern displays will light up Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo this spring during an all-new Asian Lantern Festival, Feb. 13-March 30.
Back by popular demand (and with 80% new lantern displays!), the festival will take place from 6-9 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays, Feb. 13-March 1, and nightly from March 5-30.
Presented in partnership with Tianyu Arts & Culture Inc, The Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona, and the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, the festival will transport guests halfway around the world in an immersive cultural experience featuring captivating illuminated lanterns, authentic music, dance and acrobatic performances, as well as Asian-inspired foods, Pan-Asian arts, and interactive activities.
Tickets are available online at reidparkzoo.org at $18 for adults and $16 for children ages 2-14. Children two and under get in free. Reid Park Zoo members receive $2 off event admission. Discounted group tickets of $15 each (both child and adult) are available for groups of 20 and can be purchased by calling (520) 837-8224.
Immense by day and dazzling by night, the lanterns will feature scenes from Asian folklore and legend to whimsical settings to groups of larger-than-life zoo animals and fantasy creatures. Highlights this year will include a brilliant 40-foot phoenix, flamboyant peacock flock and giant rhinoceros. As they wander the Zoo’s lush pathways, guests can explore underseas worlds, will come face to face with towering dinosaurs and can pound the giant Asian drums or dance on the interactive step pad to create their own sights and sounds.
The ancient art of lantern-making requires years of study in the trade combined with modern technologies. Artisans sew patterns for the structures on the ground and then weld 3D wireframes to make the forms, insert LED lights into the framework, and, as a last step, apply silk fabric over the frames. In China, the Lantern Festival is one of the country’s most important events, tracing back to the Han Dynasty more than 2,000 years ago.