At Illuminasia at the Calgary Zoo

Much to some Calgarian’s dismay, the days in Calgary are beginning to get shorter and shorter. Summer is coming to an end/ended quite abruptly with the snow we had over the weekend, and we must begin to adapt again to living in the dark. One of the things Calgary is really good at, among our incredible patios, our absurd number of festivals, and our beautiful winter markets, is lighting up the dark. And what better way to light up the dark than with beautiful lanterns?!


For the second year in a row, the Calgary Zoo is the host of Illuminasia, Lantern and Garden Festival. The festival showcases authentic Chinese lanterns that are arranged throughout the grounds, and guides visitors through the Four Noble Plants, representing the four seasons. “In Chinese Art, the Four Noble Plants are represented by the orchid, bamboo, the chrysanthemum and the plum blossom. These four plants represent the seasons and how they unfold from one season to another.” —


Our journey began in spring. Snails, blossoms, mushrooms, and various flowers lit up the path. In summer, we found more flowers, and the most colourful animals. We gasped at the colours of the flowers, and the sheer number of lanterns. Autumn colours illuminated the maple trees and the multiple moose lanterns, and the real life bunny that grazed nearby made us laugh. The penguins waved to us from the winter section, and the twinkly trees behind them were captivating. It was all so very magical. So magical, in fact, I had to dust off my thesaurus to find enough synonyms for the word!


As if a spellbinding evening, lit by bewitching lanterns wasn’t enough, the admission to Illuminasia helps to support the Calgary Zoo’s conservation efforts to protect species at risk, here at home and around the world. Illuminasia is on until October 16, so dust off your winter boots, scarves, and toques, invite your family, your friends, your lover(s), and head down to the Calgary Zoo to experience an enchanting evening. Thanks for the beguiling night, Calgary Zoo!


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