Touch of Far East comes to Belgium

It’s back! By popular demand the light show like no other is set to once again transfix a Belgian audience this winter.

The show in question is at Antwerp Zoo which has been totally transformed by a kaleidoscope of Chinese lanterns and lights for the coming festive period. The spectacular light display opens this month and will run over the Christmas and New Year period, making for a great day out over the holidays. The “festival of Chinese lights” has, in fact, gradually become part of the zoo’s tradition and has returned this year with a brand new magical edition.

The luminous show at what is one of the country’s top all-year visitor attractions, is completely different from last year. Partly timed to coincide with the Chinese New Year, the China Light Festival features hundreds of very impressive light sculptures which give the visitor a chance to learn about ancient China, with all the mythical animals, symbolism and legends that go with it. All is beautifully complemented by dreamy traditional music and magical Chinese dances, a lovely way to spend an evening.

China Light
© ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

There is, for example, a 4-metre high Buddha to admire along with an impressive display of terracotta soldiers. You can even “meet” a 15-metre whale, one of the showpieces in the new edition. All this is the result of painstaking work by a team of Chinese craftsmen and artists, who have all been particularly diligent in welding different parts of the compositions together and putting them in just the right place.

They have transformed handmade metal structures into shining images which come in three dimensions. Some of the figures have been assembled in Antwerp itself while other parts were made in China and then transported all the way to Belgium’s second city by ship. The light artists came from Zigong in the province of Sichuan and a city world famous for its lights festival.

dragon china lights
© ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

It all makes for a wonderful evening stroll in what is a magically lit (very large) garden. Look out also for an additionally typical Chinese experience: a couple of traditional dances happening at fixed times during each evening (check beforehand for details). What better reason, then, could there be for sampling a touch of the Far East this winter – without having to step foot out of Belgium!

Good to Know:

  • The show, called “China Light Zoo”, runs from 1 December to 14 January (except 24 and 31 December) and is open from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm.
  • Special enchanting tours start at 6 pm, 7 pm and 8pm.
  • Prices vary from €15 to €12 while Planckendael subscribers pay €12 to €10. Tickets can be ordered online or at Antwerp Zoo ticket office.