It’s not often that I welcome early Christmas celebrations. For me, Christmas starts in December give or take a few early Christmas purchases because the items were on sale! The thought of putting my tree up anytime before December sends icicles down my spine. I just don’t want to be bored of Christmas before it’s begun!
That being said, when certain places put on a Christmas event or the movie channels turn on their festive viewing, I’ve been known to have a sneaky peek – allowing myself to get a little excited for Christmas, which is exactly what we did when we visited London Zoo last week. They’ve recently opened their Christmas trail and on their opening night we were invited to see it in all it’s splendour.
Before the trail was officially open, we started our trip a few hours earlier with a visit during the day. This gave us the perfect opportunity to visit all the places we didn’t get to see during our last visit, and because we invited T’s best bud to join us for the day it meant we got to see everything with fresh eyes again!
The last time we visited we missed out on the second part to the zoo – which is located on the other side of the road via the underground passage. This “second part” houses the ‘Into Africa‘ enclosure (Giraffes, Zebras, and Hippos) as well as the Meerkats and Lemur Walkthrough. This area was surprisingly big and kept us busy for longer than expected!
As well as this area, we also missed seeing the Bug House last time which, if I’m honest, wasn’t on the top of my list to visit, however as soon as we got inside we were pleasantly surprised! It’s like a giant museum for bugs and creepy crawlies – with lots of interactive features, as well as it’s own Spider Zone (with built in walkthrough (*shudders*)).
We pretty much spent the whole day here until it was time to leave so that staff could add the finishing touches to the trail. We then returned at 5pm when the trail officially opened!
Christmas at London Zoo?
Running until the 1st January, the mile long trail takes you around the zoo at night (once the animals have been nicely tucked into bed) and takes you on a magical trip through fantasy and fairytale with twinkling lights, lasers, music, and plenty to get you in the Christmas Spirit.
I’ll try not to go into too much detail though as I don’t want to spoil the magic!
As we entered, we’re taken almost immediately to the other side of the park – which is where the trail starts. After travelling through the second tunnel back into the main part of the zoo, you’re then welcomed into the main courtyard of the zoo where the restaurant is located. This is where the fairground is lit up like, well, a Christmas tree, alongside lots of stalls selling things from hot chocolate to waffles!
There are also lots of other stalls dotted around the trail – we particularly liked the look of the toasted marshmallow stand.
As we journeyed round, we were greeted by a variety of exhibits, from grottos to mini shows to light projections! Apart from a few areas that looked like we had ventured down the wrong route due to the dark red lighting, there was often always something to be seen or heard as you were walking around.
It was wonderful to watch T start to get excited about Christmas.
Our particular favourites on the trail were the animal themed light sculptures dotted throughout the tour. They really reminded you where you were!
The most impressive one, in my opinion, was the Lion (especially as it lit up the Lion enclosure just as the Lioness was there watching us), but the two giraffes at the end were also spectacular.
Whilst there weren’t many animals up and about when we visited (although we did manage to sneak a glimpse of the lioness on the prowl – which is an incredible sight to see at night), it was still a unique experience wandering around a zoo at night. Adding a Christmas twist made it incredibly special.
We really liked not only how the trail varied between a ‘traditional’ Christmas and a more modern one, but also how there was a variety of things to see. Some exhibits were more interactive, some were there to be observed, others were there to entertain! We were certainly entertained when it came to the light displays and fountain shows!
Before we left, we managed to squeeze in a quick ride on the vintage carousel but there’s also lots of other fairground rides on site especially for those the trail (additional fees do apply). We also had a look around the gift shop and any other stalls we may have missed.
As far as Christmas celebrations go, this is by far one to really get you in the spirit. There is so much to see and do, with a lot of the displays being curated by local artists and companies. We easily spent a good 2 hours here despite already visiting a few hours earlier during the day.
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here. From attending the event I would say that the ticket prices are value for money – especially if you’re going to make the most out of everything such as the mini shows or the penguin hunt, or if your little ones like to take their time – you can easily kill a few hours looking at everything.
The added extras are not integral to the event, but they’re a nice bonus. We decided to bring food with us, but next year we will likely bring some money with us to buy a hot drink and a treat. There are also cash points on site if, like us, you were stuck for change and desperate for a ride on the carousel.
The actual trail runs until 10pm (although the last entry is 8.30pm) so there is plenty of time for you to complete the trail at your own pace. The trail is approximately a mile long and is mostly accessible, with hardstanding pathways throughout, although there are slight inclines at certain points.
Lastly, and most importantly, this is obviously an outdoor event with the majority of the trail being out in the open – so prepare for the weather! We wore thick coats, gloves, and good walking boots/shoes and were warm and comfy throughout our time on the trail.
We were given free entry into the trail for the purpose of an honest review, however all thoughts, opinions, and images are our own.