About the Festival

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


Beginning September 1 through to December 31, the Festival of Illumination "Once Upon a Time" will feature an incredible showcase of legendary creatures, myths and fairytales; an epic experience that you don't want to miss!

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.

2021 Reviews


"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.

We are honored to be working with the Zigong Lantern Group® to bring you the Festival of Illumination 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. 

2022 full details coming soon


2021 in Review

The theme of the 2021 Festival of Illumination at Southwick's Zoo, was "World of Lights - Our Continents and Cultures.”  In addition to highlighting traditional culture, this spectacular night-time display shone a light on a variety of continents and their traditions.


Guests traveled the globe through the incredible artistry of handcrafted Chinese Lanterns and were immersed in the magical world of imagination and illumination.   The Festival of Illumination took guests 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 also enjoyed live entertainment, a typical Asian Night Marketplace and specialty foods.

Then, just after Thanksgiving, the Festival of Illumination became a drive-thru experience, with the addition of Winter Wonderland featuring a Holiday Light Spectacular and magical holiday themed Festival Lanterns; two events in one!  Guests also visited Santa's Village to meet & greet with Santa Claus, enjoy live entertainment, yummy treats, and more.