I kept seeing the pictures on my social channels and knew I couldn’t miss it. Nashville’s Zoolumination- Chinese Festival of Lights is one of the coolest displays I’ve seen. Opryland Hotel has some serious competition that gives a whole new perspective on checking out light displays around the holidays.
In ancient China, lanterns were used for lighting indoors and out. The paper or silk shade covering the lights prevented the wind from extinguishing the flame. They also became intertwined into the Buddhist religion.
Currently, they are used in China for decoration and worship, while being a symbol of Chinese tradition that they hold near and dear to their hearts. They also serve as a status symbol in modern times.
For the Chinese New Year, lanterns are believed to bring good luck and deter the Nian monster of folklore that was believed to attack villages each New Year. The color red, along with the light from the lanterns and the loud cracking sounds of burning bamboo or fireworks, are believed to scare away the Nian monster and prevent it from devouring their livestock, crops and people.
There was lots of interesting history in the form of symbolism in the various displays at the zoo. One of my favorites was an area filled with lanterns in the shape of peach trees. In China, peaches symbolize a renewal of life and in youth and immortality. The display almost had a magical quality that made you want to sit and stay awhile.
There’s over 500 lanterns spanning the landscape of the zoo, which is America’s largest Chinese lantern festival. They also have a North Pole Village display that couldn’t be cuter! You can walk through it and check out the lights while listening to songs from Home Alone, which totally should put you in the Christmas spirit, even if the holiday is over.
If you’re taking the kids, there’s tons of booths set up with lots of lighted toys and wands that you can purchase. Totally reminds me of Disney and their vast selection of lighted souvenirs they sell at night before the firework displays. They do have food options available, including the routine Dippin’ Dots that my kids consider a requirement to buy when you go to the zoo.
Lots of customary Chinese themed displays surround the area near the carousel. The picture above is super trippy with those beaming eyes!
Of course, what would be any zoo display without paying homage to “The Lion King?” Tons more animal themed displays were scattered over the park, with many of them having animated movements in their heads, making them more lifelike.
We didn’t know until after the fact that they also have live performances from Chinese acrobats at the stage near the reptile building. They perform on the hour at 6, 7, and 8 p.m. We heard lots of cheers and clapping from that direction so make sure you don’t miss it like we did!
The pictures truly don’t do it justice so you’ll have to check it out for yourselves! It’s the perfect setting for a date night, a family event, or even going solo with a good camera to capture the magic. It runs nightly through January 1st from 5-9 p.m. Beginning January 2nd, it’s open Thursdays-Sundays from 5-9 p.m. You’ll leave feeling culturally richer than you were before you came. Now excuse me while I go google Chinese lanterns to add to my patio decor.
Thanks so much for stopping in and until next time! xo, Christy