Asian Lantern Festival at the Central Florida Zoo

by Kismet Kohn

The Central Florida Zoo offers gorgeous scenery and fun for the whole family! Whether you want to see exotic animals, spend the day ziplining, or visit the botanical gardens, there’s something for everybody. To make it even better, every year starting in November and ending in January the zoo hosts the Asian Lantern Festival to celebrate the new year! 

It ends on January 15th, which is this upcoming weekend so be sure to grab your tickets here.


Where is it?

The Central Florida Zoo is located in the heart of downtown Sanford, which features a beautiful RiverWalk, delicious restaurants, and craft breweries. Sanford is just twenty minutes from downtown Orlando and showcases nineteenth-century Victorian homes.

The Festival

The Asian Lantern Festival was created to showcase the traditional lantern festivals celebrated in Asia during the new year. A Chinese company, Tianyu Arts and Culture, helps the Central Florida Zoo put on this event every year, and every year the event has grown.

What is it?

The zoo and gardens now feature thirty illuminated sculptures scattered along the walkway. Some sculptures are animals, others are plants, and keeping in the spirit of traditional lantern festivals, some sculptures feature Chinese elements. A lot of these lanterns aren’t still and if you look closely you will see them move, a fun fact that adds some magic to the event. 


The first lanterns you see are interactive and families can play with them to really feel involved in the event. The zoo has food and beverage options too, and I highly recommend stopping by the build-your-own s’mores station for a sweet treat and a warm atmosphere!

Images by @centralflzoo


If you live in Central Florida and you haven’t visited the Asian Lantern Festival, you must go! The location is beautiful and when you add the glimmering lights on top of it the festival becomes a sight to see. Whether you’re a family looking for a fun night out or a couple looking for a romantic winter date, the festival has something for everyone!


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