Illuminasia – Magic for the Whole Family!

If you’ve been at the Calgary Zoo lately you have probably seen the beautiful silk lanterns of Illumninasia have returned for a second year. And, while they are a beautiful addition to look at on your day trip adventures they are absolutely spectacular when the lights go down.


The lanterns themselves (over 260 of them) were individually created over five weeks by a team of 55 highly skilled artisans. The display stretches from the North Entrance and is centralized around the conservatory and the gardens.  They showcase the four seasons and culturally significant animals. One of our favourite displays is the Flower basket on your way down to the bridge to the island. For those curious about how such magical pieces were created you can learn about the process displayed on 12 lanterns set up just outside the Kitimba Café.

While the lanterns are the big draw there are also drop-in activities, entertainment performances, and paid activities. The artists who do the calligraphy are amazing.


The program run from ThursdaySunday from 7 p.m. until 10 P.m. and will only be available until October 16, 2016.

Here is our guide for taking your family to see the lanterns:

  • Plan to go early – there is nothing more spectacular than watching the lanterns slowly come to life as the sun sets. The Zoo recommends giving you and your family between 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes to get the best experience.
  • Pack for the weather – the sun sets quickly and it’s great to have some warm clothes, blankets or mittens.  Or warm up by doing one of the kids’ activities in the Kitimba Café.
  • It gets crowded – for the best views of the lanterns walk around while The Journey of the Monkey Princess is happening at the main stage by Grazers. The family show happens at 7:30 and the second show geared to an older audience happens at 8:30.
  • On that note: Skip the Stroller – or wagon if you can. We know they are handy but there are lots of people and some of the displays are in spaces where it’s hard to maneuver and you’ll have to find parking for it if you watch the show.
  • Set on seeing the show? Get there early. There are lots of hay bales set up for seating as well as limited risers. While there are good views from almost everywhere if you have small children you’ll want to stay way back from the speakers.
  • Most importantly? Don’t forget to take lots of pictures!


We hope you enjoy the experience as much as we did.

Plan you path around the Calgary Zoo with this handy map!

General Admission

  • Adult $24 + GST
  • Child $15 + GST

Engage Members (20% discount)

  • Adult $19.20 + GST
  • Senior $19.20 +GST
  • Child $12 + GST

There is also a charge for parking $7 per vehicle.