This week, the Calgary Zoo unveiled its latest festival: Illuminasia. I had seen a few teasers on the website, so when I was invited to head down and check it out, I did so gladly.
The night started with a quick tour through the main route, where I first spotted the lanterns. Not what I expected, they were crafted into massive animals and placed throughout the pathway. It wasn’t dark yet, so I was able to really take in the vibrant colours and details – without crowds of people swarming around.
We were then herded into the entertainment centre, where the official opening of Illuminasia took place, beginning with a Chinese dragon dance and drum performance.
Eager to check everything out (and a little cold), I walked down the paths in search of a hot chocolate. There was still about 30 minutes to sun down, so I peeked in every nook and cranny to make sure I had a mental list of my must-sees once the darkness set in.
Warm drink in hand, the sun did finally begin to set and you could see the lights twinkling from beneath each lantern.
Enough description though, these shots speak more than any words! Some are obviously repeats, but it’s cool to see how they look in the dark vs the light!
Even the Camels were fighting for a peak!
I honestly couldn’t get over how life-like some of them were! But, they’re much more cooperative for photo-ops than the real deal.
^ What a stud ^
So, in short – Illuminasia is a lantern and garden festival, featuring three countries: China, Japan and India. Divided into three sessions, it highlights the cultures of each country with interesting drop-in events, entertainment performances, and of course an array of lanterns. Check out the list here – I for one really want to do try the blot scarf tutorial. Plus, there are a few culinary and tea experiences if that’s your sort of deal.
Each carefully crafted lantern is hand-made from a tradition over 800 years old. Created into intricate and detailed shapes of animals (perfect for the zoo) and illuminated inside, they glow in the night and are absolutely breathtaking.
The event runs from September 17-November 1, Thursday through Sunday. Head down around 7:15 if you want to have time to grab a drink and witness the lanters begin to twinkle before sun down. It’s seriously magical and the perfect opportunity for some impromptu selfies.
General admission is $24. It’s a decent price for something new and fun to do. Plus, I always like to support brining new cultural events to Calgary. Grab a group of friends and head down to pick your favourites!