Dazzling LumiNature lights up the Philadelphia Zoo once again

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LumiNature opens this Thursday, Nov. 17.
Winnie Chung

When the sun goes down, the Philadelphia Zoo will light up like magic once again this year for 2022’s Luminature. The spectacle has become an annual tradition for the cultural institution, and this holiday season’s showcase is said to be bigger, brighter and better than ever before. 

“This year’s LumiNature is like no other,” said Philadelphia Zoo Chief Experience and Marketing Officer Amy Shearer in a statement. “Because the holidays are an important time to come together and reconnect with those important to us, creating an experience that celebrates and honors such precious time together has been our design inspiration.”

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Georgi Anastasov

As Shearer also states, the Zoo has a few new areas to explore coupled with some big fan favorites, all geared toward inspiring guests of every age. 

The full-scale nighttime holiday light show takes over the entirety of the venue after hours. While walking through, Philadelphians can find magical illusions of big cats and peacocks coming to life; flamingos flocking on a 25-foot-tall tree; and hundreds of penguins hosting an outdoor party of their very own, among many other gems. 

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SONY DSCPhiladelphia Zoo

LumiNature first debuted in November 2019, and represented the first evening and holiday program in Philadelphia Zoo’s long history, a release states. The inaugural event drew tens of thousands of visitors, and while plans were in the works for a return in 2020, the Zoo took a one-year break during the pandemic. In 2021, the Zoo broke records with visitors, and this year is aiming to do the same. 

For 2022, there are a few fresh fixtures to set your eyes on. The Penguin Prismatic features a 40-foot-tall penguin glowing with 40,000 lights surrounded by a colony of colorful penguins reflecting on the Zoo’s Bird Lake. Visitors will also be able to check out video projections that mimic the Savannah desert.  And the new finale “showstopper,” titled the Animale Fantasia, will feature cave-like screens situated on a field of lights choreographed to music, and as the Zoo says, it can’t be missed. 

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Philadelphia Zoo

However, fan favorites will also be back at LumiNature this year. 

Tis the SEAson features an underwater-themed cascade of lights through a 100-foot-long tunnel that leads to a 20-foot tree decorated as a coral reef. The Whistle-Stop Wonder, on the other hand, utilizes the brand-new Wilderness Express Train around the Impala Fountain with a backdrop of 100,000 lights sparkling through the trees. And while there, adults can enjoy piping hot cocoa, seasonal treats, and watch unique light artists perform visually-stunning routines.

Other highlighted favorites include the Zoo’s iconic 25-foot-tall pink flamingo tree made entirely of lit lawn flamingos, a 22-foot-tall Butterfly Tree featuring five oversized whimsical Monarch Pavilions and colorfully-winged artistic performers, an Earth- shaped 3D screen showing programmed lights, music, sound effects and color (all of which are under a canopy of glowing lights) and much more.

There’s also the Snake Awake that, as a release states, invites visitors to slither through brilliant purples, blues and greens as a giant snake slithers along beside them. Then, the Big Cat Stalk will have visitors meandering through a path of tall illuminated ‘grass,’ with the stalking eyes of frisky felines appearing and disappearing.

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Philadelphia Zoo

And while perusing through some treats for the eyes, visitors can also indulge in some treats for their taste-buds as well. 

While at LumiNature, visitors can sip on hot apple cider or hot chocolate, both of which are available to be spiked. If you’re looking for a snack, there are also warm pretzels and a winter-themed beer. Over at Sweet Whimsicality, visitors can also make their own s’mores over an open fire underneath lit orbs and sparkling trees, and snack on other sweet treats and hot cocoa as well.

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Philadelphia Zoo

With over a million lights, there is something around every corner for every age. In total, LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo utilizes it’s whole venue to illuminate not just the beauty of its inhabitants, but also of the space. 

LumiNature will be open Thursday, Nov. 17 through Saturday, Jan. 7. LumiNature is a nighttime experience, with timed entrance tickets available every half hour from 5 to 8 p.m. for arrival, with the experience closing last call at 10 p.m. Guests should pre-purchase timed-tickets making reservations at PhiladelphiaZoo.org. Prices vary by visit date. Tickets for adults ages 12+ are $25 to $28, children ages 2-11 are $20 to $23, and children under 2 years old are free. Philadelphia Zoo Members can also enjoy discounts on LumiNature tickets.

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