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Zoo Atlanta IllumiNights Holiday Event: Why Your Kids Will Love It

After the time change, when the holiday season approaches and night comes early, there’s something magical about experiencing light in the dark. New for the 2021 season, Zoo Atlanta IllumiNights wonders and amazes guests with beautiful Chinese Lanterns lit throughout the park. IllumiNights is a unique Atlanta holiday experience that brings a whole new way to see our beloved zoo.

2021 Zoo Atlanta IllumiNights Holiday Event


IllumiNights is completely stroller-friendly and welcomes kids of all ages. The Chinese lanterns showcase the wonder of the natural world, through the eyes of artists, who meticulously hand-painted each one. Guests can appreciate the beauty of the lanterns up-close, without touching.

IllumiNights Tickets Are Available For Select Nights Through January 2022

Related: 5 Tips For Your First Zoo Atlanta Visit

Zoo Atlanta IllumiNights Is Family-Friendly Holiday Fun

My kids absolutely love IllumiNights and seeing the beautiful colors of each lantern. There are lanterns of all sizes and they’re lit by eco-friendly LED Lights. In total, there are 80 lanterns and they’re evenly placed throughout the zoo. There’s not one moment of boredom as kids will love running from lantern to lantern.

I love that this is a holiday season event that isn’t based upon any religious celebration – it’s just artistic and gorgeous for everyone to enjoy together. 


Do you see animals at Zoo Atlanta IllumiNights?

Since it’s dark, you will not see the animals that are usually out. The pathway for IllumiNights does go through the Giant Panda exhibit and you can see them. There’s a good chance they’re asleep though. Even though you do not see the animals that you would during the daytime, it’s a completely NEW way to experience the zoo and kids love the lanterns.

What Type Of Lanterns Are On Display?

The different animal lanterns are grouped together based upon their environments  – from the savanna to the sea and sky. There is even a few dinosaur lanterns, which were a huge hit with my kids.

Alligator Chinese Lantern Zoo Atlanta


What Can Kids Do At IllumiNights?

Bundle up and take the whole family to Zoo Atlanta IllumiNights because it’s designed for all ages. Kids will love seeing the Chinese lanterns, taking photos and stopping at the activity stations. The zoo team set up several activity stations where kids can stop for a little craft time. It offers a little break from the lanterns too.

Additionally, select gift shops and some Zoo Atlanta food options are open throughout the event – including hot chocolate. There are some limited edition merchandise items available for purchase too.

What Should I Bring To IllumiNights?

If you’ve got young kids or toddlers, who can’t walk far, I would pack a stroller. The pathway is well lit and you can push a stroller throughout the park with ease. Wear comfortable shoes and plan to stay warm since it’s an after dark event. The lanterns are all located in outdoor locations. 

Zoo Atlanta IllumiNights Event


How To Buy Zoo Atlanta IllumiNights Tickets

The event will be open from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. each night during its run (last entry at 8:30 p.m.), and advance timed reservations are strongly recommended. Visit for reservations, information, and answers to frequently asked questions about the event.

Tips For Zoo Atlanta Nighttime Events


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