Lanterns set to light up Edinburgh Zoo this Christmas

Edinburgh Zoo will be displaying The Giant Lanterns of China this winter. Picture: contributed
Edinburgh Zoo will be displaying The Giant Lanterns of China this winter. Picture: contributed
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Giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang have already proven a star attraction in the Capital.

And now Edinburgh Zoo will continue to celebrate its links with their birthplace in China with a dazzling lantern event throughout the festive season.

The Giant Lanterns of China event will see over 450 lanterns installed, illuminating the zoo over 50 winter nights.

150 Chinese craftsmen from the Sichuan province – the home of the zoo’s male and female panda – will be drafted in to create a trail around the attraction.

The work, expected to take the craftsmen around 25,000 hours, will see the creation of 34 installations, feature 469 gigantic lanterns and sculptures made of steel and silk.

The paid-for event – with tickets priced from £17.50 – will allow zoo visitors to explore three themes, China, Edinburgh Zoo and the zoo’s worldwide animal conservation work.

There will be 211 large-scale animal-themed lanterns erected, including 30 giant pandas, 12 lions, 30 native birds, 15 snails, 20 penguins and 25 flamingos alongside detailed backdrops of flowers, fauna, insects and Chinese heritage symbols such as signs of the zodiac and traditional archways.

One of the highlights will be a 19-foot high and 115-foot long Chinese dragon, majestically guarding the zoo until the event ends during the Chinese Spring Festival.

Tian Tian and Yang Guang arrived in Edinburgh from Sichuan China in 2011, on a ten-year loan.

A new enclosure was built for the pair and zoo bosses hoped they would produce panda cubs, but so far attempts have been unsuccessful.

It was revealed in May that female panda Tian Tian had been artificially inseminated for the fifth time, after coming into season at the earliest time since arriving in Edinburgh.

The decision to go ahead with artificial insemination came after the zoo decided there was now no prospect of Tian Tian and Yang Guang ever mating naturally.

Barbara Smith, CEO at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said: “This winter, Edinburgh Zoo will be transformed by The Giant Lanterns of China, an awe-inspiring installation that will illuminate Edinburgh in spectacular 
style.

“Edinburgh Zoo has very strong ties with China and Chinese culture thanks to our famous giant pandas. As the only place in Scotland to see these lanterns, The Giant Lanterns of China will encourage local supporters and visitors from around the world to view our animals and conservation work in a new light.”

The partnership to create the lanterns stems from a long-standing relationship between RZSS and Sichuan.

Edinburgh Zoo is home to the only giant pandas in the UK.

Each evening of the event, visitors will be offered up surprises such as performances, food and craft stalls.

Zoo bosses say it will give visitors a taste of Chinese culture while they explore the lantern works of art.

Tickets for The Giant Lanterns of China go on sale from 9am tomorrow.

Advanced online booking discounts are available. Tickets are priced from £17.50 per adult and available at edinburghzoo.org.uk/lanterns

newsen@edinburghnews.com