About the Festival

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In 2019 we began to plan for the Festival of Illumination “World of Lights” originally to be hosted in the fall of 2020 at Southwick’s Zoo, but by May of 2020 and due to the current state of COVID, we decided for the safety of all involved, that we would need to postpone the festival until 2021.  Our team is global consisting of remarkably talented, hardworking and devoted individuals who each play an integral role in bringing this festival to fruition.

We are honored to be working with the Zigong Lantern Group® to bring you the Festival of Illumination "World of Lights" at Southwick's Zoo, Mendon, Massachusetts.

The Zigong Lantern Group® is the world's largest lantern manufacturer, and their breath-taking displays have been featured in locations world wide including the Dublin Zoo, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, UK's Longleat House, Nashville Zoo and the Magnolia Plantation, South Carolina. 

Zigong Lantern Group®, was formed in the United States as the international branch to bring the Chinese Lantern Festival overseas.  Zigong Lantern Group® are the original pioneers who brought this cultural lantern exhibition into the North American and other overseas markets. 

The Festival of Illumination is a must see experience for guests of all ages; New England's largest and premier lantern showcase! 

"Illuminations were so beautiful, congratulations on a job so well done. We went last night and everybody was in awe.”  Darin K.

"It was amazing and so beautiful!!  We had the best time and want to visit again soon!”   Stephanie M.

"We loved it. Had a great time with kids from 1 to 23 years old.”   Pamela D.

Such a joyful experience! The artistry was just...wow...like nothing I'd seen before!  Beautiful!    Crystal R.


Beginning in September, Southwick’s Zoo will be illuminated by hundreds of lanterns and custom-built exhibits constructed from silk, steel, and environmentally- friendly LED lights.  The theme of this year’s Festival of Illumination is a "World of Lights - Our Continents and their Cultures.”  In addition to highlighting traditional culture, this spectacular night-time display will shine a light on a variety of continents and their traditions.


Travel the globe through the incredible artistry of handcrafted Chinese Lanterns and immerse yourself in the magical world of imagination and illumination.   The Festival of Illumination will take you on a trip through the African Savannahs, the Amazon rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, as well as many beautiful and fascinating regions in between.  Visitors will also enjoy live entertainment, a typical Asian Night Marketplace and specialty foods.

The walk-thru portion of the Festival of Illumination will end on November 24. 

Beginning November 26, 2021 Winter Wonderland, celebrating the Festival of Illumination, will be a drive-thru experience featuring our wonderful Holiday Light Spectacular and Magical Holiday themed Festival Lanterns; it is two events in one!  Winter Wonderland, celebrating the Festival of Illumination, will run through to January 2. 


The November 26 introduction of Winter Wonderland will also feature Santa's Village where you can park your car and hop on our train tram that will drop you off at the entrance of Santa's Village.  There you can have a meet & greet with Santa Claus, enjoy live entertainment, grab some yummy treats, and more.  Join us in a traditional celebration for the holidays at Winter Wonderland! 

The Chinese Lantern Festival is a centuries-old tradition, celebrated beginning in 206 B.C. featuring spectacular illuminated displays from history and mythology; the displays are incredibly detailed and intricately constructed, with some lanterns as large as 60 feet tall and 300 feet in length.


Here at Southwick’s Zoo, the Festival of Illumination fully engages in maintaining the charm of the century-old traditions, while integrating modern technologies and craftsmanship, resulting in a most unique and amazing display, rich in cultural and artistic expression.

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