Grand Rapids Lantern Festival Returns To John Ball Zoo

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Grand Rapids is gearing up for the much-anticipated return of the Lantern Festival at John Ball Zoo in partnership with Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc.  Due to the successful lantern festival last year, it’s returning for the second year. The festival runs from April 10th to June 16th.  

The magic of this festival brings to life the experience of Lunar New Year traditions in China and the Chinese zodiac sign to the zoo. 

Photo Tianyu Art & Culture, Inc, Facebook

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival

The History of the Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival originated in China over 2,000 years ago. Traditionally, it marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations and symbolizes the coming of spring.

Lanterns, with their intricate designs and vibrant colors, are used to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. Over time, the tradition has spread globally, and cities around the world now host their own versions of lantern festivals.

Last year John Ball Zoo hosted the Lantern Festival to celebrate Asian culture and it provided the perfect setting for the illuminated Asian lantern displays.  

Plus, this is the only place in Michigan you can see these incredible works of art.

Photo Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc, Facebook

Festival Features

The lantern festival features handcrafted Asian lantern displays that will illuminate the Zoo and tell an intersecting story of wildlife and Asian culture.

The mile long walking path will feature approximately 55 handcrafted Asian lanterns with intricate designs, representing various ocean themes and cultural elements. 

From wildlife-inspired lanterns to geometric patterns, each display tells a story and adds to the entertainment of the trail. 

New this year are more lighted tunnels and interactive experiences like a jelly fish that bounces up and down. Returning is the Chinese zodiac animals and the interactive lighted playground. 

Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc, Facebook

Live Entertainment

During your stroll along the trail you may encounter roaming entertainment. Last year there were Lion Dancers from Lotus Boyz GR. Renowned for their mastery of the ancient art of lion dancing, this talented troupe brought a burst of energy and cultural richness to the event. 

Lotus Boyz GR, Facebook

The Grand Rapids Lantern Festival at John Ball Zoo promises to be a brilliant celebration of light, culture, and community. The event is perfect for people of all ages.   

Purchase general admission tickets and join in the festivities as Grand Rapids once again becomes illuminated by the magic of the Lantern Festival

Photo Tianyu Arts &Culture, Inc, Facebook


How much does it Cost?

General admission tickets range in price with individual tickets starting at $19 and up. Group ticket packages are available. Timed tickets are sold for entry on the half hour.

Are the animals visible during the Lantern Festival?

Sorry, it’s nighty nighty time for the animals at zoo during the Lantern Festival so they are not available for viewing, but be sure to come back during the day to say hi to them.

Do you issue refunds if the weather is bad?

Hey, it’s Michigan, there’s just weather, neither good or bad, simply dress for the occasion and be prepared for rain, shine, sleet, heat wave, etc. Give it a few minutes, it will probably change.

But, if you insist on not attending due to inclement weather you can email the event and ask them to change your tickets to a different date, see their website for more details.

Is there food?

Yes! There are several food options for purchase throughout the park during the festival because nobody likes a hangry visitor.

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