A MAGICAL trail awaits visitors to Edinburgh Zoo with the installation of hundreds of dazzling giant lanterns for its winter extravaganza.
The zoo has been transformed for the launch of The Giant Lanterns of China, which will continue for 50 spectacular nights.
From a mystical winged tiger to the Monkey King, gigantic lanterns are appearing in locations throughout the zoo, with last night seeing the switch on of 34 spectacular installations made up of more than 450 colossal lanterns.
The zoo will also be home to unicorns, giants, kelpies and even the Loch Ness Monster, alongside animals past and present.
Following the huge success of last year’s inaugural event, which attracted more than 83,000 people, this year’s gigantic, handmade steel and silk sculptures will take visitors on a completely new nocturnal trail around the zoo.
The Giant Lanterns of China is inspired by the Scottish tradition of storytelling, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s worldwide animal conservation work and the cultural heritage of Sichuan, in China, where the Zoo’s resident giant pandas were born.
The enchanting trail around the Zoo was created by 200 specialist artisans from China and took over 100 days to construct.
The light sculptures include more than 200 large-scale animal lanterns including giant pandas, lions, penguins and flamingos, all surrounded by a beautiful backdrops of insects, Chinese heritage symbols and stunning traditional archways to guide visitors around the Zoo.
The event takes place each night from 4.45pm – 8.45pm.
The mile-long route, which takes about an hour and a half to complete, also features short performances by Chinese artists. Visitors can also browse handmade crafts from Chinese artisans at a festive marketplace as well as seasonal hot drinks and snacks.
Barbara Smith, chief executive at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said: “Over 50 nights, Edinburgh Zoo will be transformed into a winter wonderland of myths and legends brought to life through hundreds of colossal Chinese lanterns.
“This year’s event is bigger and better than ever and visitors will come face to face with herds of unicorns, kelpies, a sleeping dragon and Nessie the Loch Ness Monster.”
“Each installation tells a story from Scottish legends and Chinese mythology as well as the crucial conservation projects we undertake with our partners to help preserve the world’s most vulnerable species.
“The event is a chance for us to illuminate the critical conservation work of RZSS to protect endangered animals and the real risk of them becoming myths and legends for future generations.”