John Ball Zoo Lantern Festival Returns to Grand Rapids for 2024. GR Zoo Lights are Back!

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival Water Lily Tunnel

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival at John Ball Zoo – April, May, June 2024

The GR lantern festival is at John Ball Zoo from April 10 through Sunday, June 16, 2024. Featuring interactive displays, fun activities, and endless enchantment, it’s like nothing else in our area. Plus, 2024 will feature NEW lanterns!

And, new this year, the zoo festival will give a lantern sneak peak in GR’s new Luminary Light Parade on Jan 12, 2024, as part of the World of Winter Festival.

Be transported to a realm of magic and creativity at the new Grand Rapids Lantern Festival. Things to do in the spring, like this Grand Rapids Lantern Festival, are rare in West Michigan landscape. We’re excited it’s back for another year!

Tickets will go on sale in early 2024. Zoo members get first dibs at purchasing tickets, with member ticket access starts January 8. General Admission tickets open February 5. Stay tuned for more info.

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival Tigers

What to Expect at the Grand Rapids Lantern Festival

Get ready for a breathtaking experience for all ages.

John Ball Zoo teamed up with Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc. to bring this festival to Grand Rapids. Our city was the first and only place to see these incredible works of art in Michigan.

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival Walkway
Chinese Lantern Festival Display by Tianyu Arts & Culture

As the largest Chinese lantern festival producer in North America, they were the first company to bring authentic Chinese Lantern traditions to the U.S. and Europe.

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival Zoo Entrance

Entrance to John Ball Zoo Lantern Festival

Today, they use innovative dynamic projections and ground displays to bring everything the light touches to life.

“We’re so excited to bring this incredible experience to John Ball Zoo for people of all ages,” said Darci Napolillo, promotions and events manager at John Ball Zoo.

“The lantern festival will feature amazing handcrafted Asian lantern displays that will illuminate the Zoo and tell the intersecting story of wildlife and Asian culture.”

John Ball Zoo Grand Rapids Lantern Festival

Interactive Elements

John Ball Zoo is the first and only place in Michigan to feature the lanterns, some of which are interactive and feature light-up swings or blowing bubbles.

interactive elements Grand Rapids Lantern Festival

The festival also features themed foods and beverages, special merchandise and live entertainment from local cultural groups.

Walking the Lantern Festival

The Grand Rapids Lantern Festival will feature 55 handcrafted Asian-themed lantern displays on a mile-long path through the zoo. It takes roughly 1 – 1 ½ hours to walk through the entire Festival.

The pathways are accessible. Surfaces are either paved or boardwalks, making them suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. Pathways are wide.

Please note, the many of the zoo walkways are on an incline, as the zoo is built into the side of a steep hill.

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival flowers

Constructed from metal frames and covered in fabric the lanterns are lit from inside, making them glow.

Special features like the luminescent tunnel of wisteria invite you to marvel at your surroundings.

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival Wisteria Tunnel

Wisteria Tunnel at Grand Rapids Lantern Festival

You may even encounter roaming entertainment, like these Chinese Dragon performers that were at last year’s festival.

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival Performance

About the Lanterns

Shaped as animals, the lanterns will illuminate the Zoo in the evenings and tell the intersecting story of wildlife and Asian culture.

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival Giraffes John Ball Zoo


Every lantern festival is unique, with new themes, lighting techniques, and more customized for each location.

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival John Ball Zoo

A Look at Last Year’s John Ball Zoo Lantern Festival

Interactive elements, like this human kaleidoscope lantern, add to the event’s magical charm.

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival Kaleidescope

This really is an event every age group can enjoy.

2024 Lantern Fest Ticket Prices

Tickets will soon be available to purchase online.

Member ticket access starts January 8. General Admission tickets open February 5. (Zoo members will receive a discount on their ticket purchases.)

How much do Zoo Lantern Tickets cost?

WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY | GENERAL ADMISSION
Non-members | $22.00
Members | $19.00

WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY | 4 PASS TICKETS
*This means you are purchasing 4 tickets for 4 people on the same night.

Non-members | $70.00
Members | $60.00

FRIDAY, SATURDAY, & SUNDAY | GENERAL ADMISSION
Non-members | $24.00
Members | $21.00

FRIDAY, SATURDAY, & SUNDAY | 4 PASS TICKETS
*This means you are purchasing 4 tickets for 4 people on the same night.

 All children 2 years old and under are FREE! Children ages 3 and up will require a ticket.

Timed tickets sold every 30 minutes. Last entry at 10:30pm. Advanced tickets required.

Dates & Details for Grand Rapids Lantern Festival

The lantern festival runs April 10 – June 16, 2024 at John Ball Zoo (1300 W. Fulton St, Grand Rapids, MI 49504)

It will be open Wednesdays through Sundays each week from 7:30 – 11:30 PM.

Timed tickets are available in half hour increments starting at 7 pm. Last entry at 10:30pm.

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival Timed Entry

To book your tickets, simply select the date you’d like to attend the Grand Rapids Lantern Festival from the zoo’s website.

Then, select your preferred 30-minute timed entry slot.

Event Tickets

Zoo Lights FAQS

Do I have to purchase tickets online in advance?

It’s recommend that patrons purchase tickets online ahead of time to ensure an available ticket at your preferred entry time. Tickets may be purchased onsite if entry time capacity is still available. The ticket booth is open every night that the Lantern Festival runs from 7:30-10:30 PM.

Do I only get to enjoy the festival for my ticket time slot?

Entry times are staggered to ensure an enjoyable guest experience. Once you’ve entered the event you can enjoy it at your own pace. You can stay until the festival closes for the evening if you’d like.

Are the animals visible during the Lantern Festival?

Animals will not be viewable on the Lantern Festival route at night. For the animals’ safety, they are kept on their typical nightly routine and for most of them, that means that they are in their indoor habitats for the night.

If I am a member at a Zoo that provides a reciprocal discount for Daily Tickets, does that mean I also get a discount on the Lantern Festival?

It does not. Discounts are only available to those who are members at John Ball Zoo.

Do you issue refunds if the weather is bad?

The Lantern Festival will operate rain or shine. Refunds are not offered for any tickets purchased. If necessary, tickets can be moved to an alternate date. In order to do that, please email [email protected], provide the Booking ID that is on your tickets and the alternate date you would like to move to.
*There is no guarantee that you will be able to move your tickets if the alternate date you are requesting is full.

Is there food?

Several food options are provided throughout the park during the festival.

How long does it take to walk through the whole zoo lights tour?

It takes roughly 1 – 1 ½ hours to walk through the entire Festival.

Will You Attend the Grand Rapids Lantern Festival?

Let us know in the comments if you plan to go to this amazing new Grand Rapids event!

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival Flamingo Feather Tunnel
Photo from previous Lantern Festival

More Photos from the Grand Rapids Lantern Festival

Grand Rapids Lantern Festival GLowing wings
lanterns grand rapids

More Things to Do in Grand Rapids

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