The deft tones of George Michael and Wham’s last Christmas filtered through the air as I walked along the Broadwalk of Regents Park to the main entrance of London Zoo on Sunday evening, trying to avoid peaking in and getting too much of a preview of “Christmas at London Zoo”! Myself and my parents joined the queue ahead of our 5:30pm time slot along with other parents and their children, notably I was the only non-toddler child and am in my thirties instead (I have no shame!), and readied ourselves for the mile long illuminated trail. The route begins with a tunnel comprising 100,000 twinkling lights which move across the walls and ceiling, giant paw prints projected onto the floor then lead you onto the light vortex – a series of rotating neon squares which continually change colour, and eject you into a cavernous concrete space filled with green neon spiralling lights and smoke. As the trail continues stunning illuminated animal sculptures appear, from penguins to a lion, a pair of kangaroos, giraffes and flamingos. There’s also an enormous lit up Christmas tree constructed out of wooden sleighs, giant neon snow-drops, lit up butterflies, presents, snow-flakes and open umbrellas decorating the trees. Iconic parts of the zoo also take centre stage; the original penguin enclosure (now a listed building) plays host to a choreographed illuminated fountain display, and the Mappin Terraces (lions’ mountain) have enormous festive scenes accompanied by a Christmas soundtrack cleverly projected across them. As well as zoo-themed festivities, more traditional elements are also present, including a huge fire pit to toast marshmallows, mulled wine and fairground rides including a helter-skelter and carousel. I only intended to spend about forty-five minutes there, and almost two hours later I was still enchanted, albeit a little chilly. Open until 1st January I’d highly recommend a visit for children of all ages!
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