Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit at Zoolumination {Tennessee}

With the Chinese New Year we look ahead to the Year of the Rabbit. The Rabbit symbolizes longevity, peace, and prosperity so for many this is a year of hope. In honor of the Chinese New Year, the Nashville Zoo has been putting on an incredible light festival of Chinese art and folktales that they call Zoolumination. Of all the things that we have done in Nashville- this is the absolute favorite of them all.

The entire zoo was filled with larger than life illuminated pictures taken from Chinese folktales and mythology. We entered through the an amazing archway and then were greeted by a group of cranes. This is the largest Chinese lantern festival is the country.

There are over 1,000 lanterns fashioned from silk and wires throughout the zoo that have been created by Chinese artists. The creativity and ingenuity of creating such beautiful art was inspiring.

Each pathway was lined with lights. From archways of lanterns, or butterflies glittering overhead, to blossoms along the path- there is something to see everywhere you go.

We really loved seeing the tales of mythical animals come to life with the lanterns. From winged tigers to 9 tailed foxes to magical peacocks, the stories came to life through these amazing lighted scenes.

We really loved the scene with the ocean creatures. It was set out on the pond and the beautiful lanterns with their reflection in the water was so beautiful.

Being at the zoo at night is a different experience. Most of the animals are asleep when night comes. But we did get to see the Black Bear and a group of flamingos as they played in the water. One particularly cheeky flamingo walked right up to us and flapped its wings and squawked at us. Apparently we were disturbing the bedtime routine.

There are two resident dragons at the zoo. The first is the Cloud Dragon. Cloud dragons have been popular in Chinese folktales since the 5th century. The other is the mighty Turtle Dragon said to hold up the heavens. The details of these dragons were stunning and walking beneath them really gave a feeling of their grandeur.

One part had an entire Chinese city created with buildings, lanterns, and people depicting a celebration time. This was Chang’an, during the Tang Dynasty from 618-907, as they celebrated Shang Yuan. Chang’an was an ancient capital city such as Rome or Cairo. To see this city come to life was amazing.

We had such an amazing time at Zoolumination. We were blown away by the lanterns and their bright details that every one of them had. Starting the year this way did feel like we were ushering in a year of peace and prosperity. It seemed to fill us with light and hope. What a beautiful look at Chinese art and folktales.

{Know if you go: Zoolumination goes from the last week of November to the first week of February. Tickets must be purchased in advance, $19/adult and $15/child. There is a parking fee of $8 per vehicle. Because it only goes from 5-9, arrive early so you have time to get in and enjoy.}

If you enjoyed this incredible art exhibit, here are some others you might consider:

Roots of Knowledge Stained Glass – Utah

Salvador Dali Museum- Florida

Immersive Van Gogh- Tennessee

Thank you for coming along through the beautiful Chinese light experience at Zoolumination. May the year of the rabbit bring you peace, prosperity, and hope.

21 responses to “Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit at Zoolumination {Tennessee}”

  1. What a fantastic concept. I truly had no idea that Nashville would put on such an event, and no less than the zoo! I think with this kind of thing there is a danger that it could be tacky, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. In fact, I really like most of them, particularly that amazing twisting blue dragon in the cover shot. It actually reminds me a bit of the incredible Ice and Sculpture Festival I visited in Harbin, China, way back in 2009. What an experience that was.

    • I was a little worried about it being a little campy too, but was greatly surprised at how incredible it all was. The detail in them were beautiful. And definitely not something you would ever expect from the Nashville Zoo. I bet seeing something like that out of ice and in China would have been amazing! 🙂

  2. Wow, Meg! What a spectacular celebration. The creativity is amazing, and it looks like a learning experience too. I am fascinated by the fact that the displays were hand made as they are absolutely stunning. The sea creatures reflecting on the pond is my favorite.

    • The creativity was amazing with all the colors and details that they put into it really made it beautiful. I worried at first that it would be a little campy, but was greatly surprised by how it all turned out. The whales reflected in the pond were my favorite too 🙂

    • It was really incredible! The thought and detail in each piece was amazing. I worried at first that it would be a little campy, but was happily surprised to find it such a artistic and beautiful experience. 🙂

  3. The light festival has been so tastefully created Meg and looks so beautiful. I’ve just returned from Helsinki and there I watched some ice sculpting of rabbits to commemorate the new year.

    • It was a really beautiful experience. How fun that must have been to watch ice sculpting in Helsinki! Loved seeing your pictures on instagram and I’m looking forward to reading your posts about your trip 🙂

  4. The lanterns are all so exquisitely beautiful! I had no idea you’d find an event like this in Nashville. We went to a lantern festival In Seoul in 2019, similar to this one; we loved it too. What a lovely way to spend an evening!

    • It was certainly a surprise to find such a great event like this in Nashville- and at the zoo no less. But it was incredible! The lanterns were so detailed and large and really made for beautiful scenes. What an amazing experience to see a lantern festival in Seoul! 🙂

  5. That looks lovely. I would really enjoy something like that. It actually reminds me of Dale Chihuly’s exhibitions.
    The Year of the Rabbit has special meaning in our multi-species household. 🙂 🐰

    • I’m sure your bunny is very excited to have a year dedicated to it. Of course he may let it go to his head having such recognition. 🙂 It was a really beautiful experience, completely unexpected from the zoo. All the lanterns were so detailed that it was like you stepped into the story.

    • It was really amazing and I was blown away by the creativity and the detail of all the lanterns. I was worried that it would be a little campy but it turned out to far exceed my expectations in the best way 🙂

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