Immersive event at John Ball Zoo highlights wildlife conservation 

After more than 110,000 guests experienced the magical, immersive Grand Rapids Lantern Festival last year, John Ball Zoo will bring back the festival featuring new lanterns and interactive experiences, with general admission tickets on sale Monday, Feb. 5.
This year’s festival takes place 7:30-11:30 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sundays from April 10 through June 16. The festival features a one-mile tour through John Ball Zoo, illuminated by dozens of handmade lanterns, telling the intersecting story of wildlife and Asian culture. It’s the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac, so a large dragon tunnel will greet visitors at the front of the Zoo.
“After an incredibly fun and successful lantern festival in 2023, we are so excited to welcome people of all ages back for an even bigger and better event the second time around,” said Darci Napolillo, promotions and events manager at John Ball Zoo. “The Grand Rapids Lantern Festival offers an amazing opportunity to learn about Asian culture and its ties to wildlife conservation, and is one guests won’t want to miss.”
The lanterns come from Tianyu (TEE-ON-YOU) Arts & Culture, a leading Chinese lantern festival producer that promotes conservation and sustainability through its festivals. These core values align with John Ball Zoo’s commitment to the conservation of wildlife and wild places, as well as providing fun, engaging and educational opportunities for guests. The lanterns are made through traditional lantern-making skills and come in many shapes and sizes, from animals, plants, insects and more.
Last year, the Zoo became the first and only place in Michigan to feature the lanterns.
Also new this year, Tianyu is bringing authentic entertainment to the festival, featuring a group of traditional performances like face changing, artistic hula hooping, acrobatics and more.
Timed tickets will be sold for every half hour from 7-10:30 p.m. and cost $22 for non-members on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tickets for non-members cost $24 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and the Zoo offers a lower rate for a four-pack of tickets. Tickets can be purchased online.
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