Hundreds of Chinese lanterns light up Edinburgh Zoo

The Giant Lanterns of China trail at Edinburgh Zoo Credit: RZSS Edinburgh Zoo/PA

Hundreds of giant lanterns inspired by mythical creatures from Scottish and Chinese folklore have been placed around Edinburgh Zoo to create a “winter wonderland”.

Unicorns, kelpies, a sleeping dragon and Nessie the Loch Ness Monster are among the creatures on display in The Giant Lanterns of China event.

Two hundred specialists from China spent more than 100 days creating the trail around the venue, with this year’s theme inspired by the Scottish tradition of storytelling, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) wildlife conservation work, endangered animals and the cultural heritage of Sichuan.

The trail features more than 450 handmade lanterns constructed with 50,000 metres of fabric and 80,000 LED lights.

Barbara Smith, chief executive at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said: “Over 50 nights, Edinburgh Zoo will be transformed into a winter wonderland of myths and legends brought to life through hundreds of colossal Chinese lanterns.

“This year’s event is bigger and better than ever and visitors will come face to face with herds of unicorns, kelpies, a sleeping dragon and Nessie the Loch Ness Monster.

Sofia McMahon and Magnus McMahon view a giant elephant Credit: RZSS Edinburgh Zoo/PA

“Each installation tells a story from Scottish legends and Chinese mythology as well as the crucial conservation projects we undertake with our partners to help preserve the world’s most vulnerable species.

“The event is a chance for us to illuminate the critical conservation work of RZSS to protect endangered animals and the real risk of them becoming myths and legends for future generations.”

The event runs until February 17, and tickets are available at