Out & About – Zoominations

Zoominations Lowry Park Zoo Tampa

We take a break from our regular scheduled food posts to go OUT & ABOUT on a little field trip to…


Zoominations is an Illuminated Chinese Lantern Festival currently taking place at Tampa’s own Lowry Park Zoo.

The lanterns and displays are up at the zoo during the daytime hours but the real magic happens at night!

For example, the Pagoda pictured below is impressive in the daylight. Made up entirely of porcelain plates, cups, and spoons, this lantern represents the famous Manfeilong Pagoda in southeast China.

Zoominations Pagoda of Dishes

The 68,000 dishes that make up this pagoda are hand tied (no glue gun allowed) and it soars an impressive 52 feet high, the same size as the original.

So, it’s really neat during the day…

But at night…Wowza!

Add a few thousand lights and dinnerware has never looked so cool!

Zoominations Pagoda of Dishes Illuminated

The great thing about this exhibit is seeing the lanterns in the day light…

Zoominations Koi in daylight

and then the twilight…

Zoominations Koi in twilight

and then in the darkness!

Zoominations Koi in darkness

(I want some of those drippy trip lights for my trees.)

So you will need to plan to make a few trips around the zoo to get the full array of colors and lighting as the evening gets darker and darker.

Traditional Chinese red lanterns make a grand entrance.

Zoominations Chinese Red Lanterns

Beautiful lanterns with individual scenes handprinted on silk. This little bird was my favorite…

Zoominations painted lanterns

but there are plenty from which to choose so you can pick your own.

Zoominations painted lanterns

Thinking that lanterns are just for hanging in trees?

Nope! This 1/4 size replica of the famous Temple of Heaven uses silk, over 1000 lights, and like the original, was built without the use of nails.

Zoominations Temple of Heaven

Need some interesting ideas for your landscape lighting?

I’m thinking that the Christmas display this year might need some tweaking!

Zoominations field of flowers


Even though the resident animals are not on display at night, there were still plenty of animals to see.

Zoominations Elephants

These pandas were even animated.

Zoominations Pandas

I loved the giraffes almost as much as I love the resident giraffes at the zoo. (Go during the day and you can feed the real guys crackers.)

Zoominations Giraffes

Zoominations Giraffes

Zebras and hippos on parade.

Zoominations Zebras & Hippos

And you had to know there would be a cat!

Zoominations Tiger!

This display of Qilin was absolutely gorgeous.

Qilin are sort of the Chinese mythological equivalent of the unicorn but have the head of a lion, antlers of a deer, eyes of a tiger, tail of an ox, and hooves of a horse. According to the display, the appearance of Qilin meant peace forever.


I thought these were made of lighted jewels but they are actually thousands of tiny bottles of colored water that are illuminated.


Zoominations Qilin


Zoominations Peacocks

And of course, 2 giant Chinese dragons.


There is so much more to see than I can show you here.

Zoominations has only been seen in Toronto, London, Beijing, and now Tampa!

It’s going to be at the Lowry Park Zoo through the end of May so if you are local or here on vacation, take my advice and GO!

(Also, take my advice and use a groupon!)

I’m hoping that with the success of Zoominations here in Tampa, it will go to more zoos across the country.



All photos seen here were taken by me with my iPhone (my “good” camera was freaking out in the low light) and are unedited. These are the actual colors! (If I waited to have time to edit photos, you’d never see anything around here.)

Also, this post is not sponsored or presented in any way by the Lowry Park Zoo. I just thought this was so cool, you should see it so you can go too!


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