An illuminating event

The Second Annual Grand Rapids Lantern Festival lights up the night at John Ball Zoo through June 16
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John Ball Zoo visitors follow a one-mile path illuminated with Chinese style lanterns at the Second Annual Grand Rapids Lantern Festival in Grand Rapids, April 9. The festival is open to the public April 10—June 16, 2024. Visit the Zoo's website for details. Photo courtesy of John Ball Zoo.

John Ball Zoo is inviting the community to immerse themselves in a mesmerizing blend of wildlife and Asian culture at the second annual Grand Rapids Lantern Festival. Partnered with Meijer and Tianyu Arts & Culture, a leading Chinese lantern festival producer that promotes conservation and sustainability, the festival provides a fun, engaging and educational opportunities for guests to see the Zoo in a whole new light.

“John Ball Zoo is so excited to welcome our community to the second Grand Rapids Lantern Festival with new lanterns and experiences to see and interact with,” said Darci Mitchell, promotions & events manager at John Ball Zoo. “Come celebrate the intersection of wildlife and Asian culture during this magical, immersive festival.”

John Ball Zoo Lantern Fest. Courtesy photo.

Launching tonight, April 10, 2024, this interactive event promises a magical experience for all. Timed tickets, available for purchase online, offer entry every half hour from 7-10:30 p.m. The format of the festival has guests embarking on a one-mile journey through the Zoo, encountering intricate handmade lanterns made through traditional lantern-making processes and come in many varieties, including animals, plants, insects, and help to narrate the tales of wildlife and Asian heritage. Noteworthy this year is the captivating dragon tunnel, marking the Chinese zodiac’s “Year of the Dragon,” a unique spectacle exclusive to John Ball Zoo.

“We are proud to partner with John Ball Zoo for the Grand Rapids Lantern Festival in support of their mission focused on conservation and community,” said Melissa Conway, director of Community Giving and Partnerships at Meijer.

Jellyfish light up the sky at John Ball Zoo Lantern Fest. Courtesy photo.

“For more than 130 years, John Ball Zoo has been an active community member for families, schools and other organizations and we couldn’t be more grateful for our longstanding partnership,” Conway said.

In addition to the enchanting lanterns, authentic performances await visitors, including traditional acts like face changing, artistic hula hooping, and mesmerizing acrobatics.

Founded in 1891, John Ball Zoo remains steadfast in its mission to inspire wildlife conservation. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Zoo upholds rigorous standards in animal care and welfare, working tirelessly to protect wildlife and their habitats, both locally and globally.

Tickets cost $22 for non-members on Wednesdays and Thursdays and $24 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 16, 2024. The Zoo offers a lower rate for a four-pack of tickets. Tickets can be purchased online.

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