ILLUMINATE FESTIVAL REVIEW: KIDDO reviewer Carla Caruso enjoyed a wild night at the zoo, where illuminations and large-scale lanterns on display are inspired by the regular residents.


The Adelaide Zoo just got larger than life.

It’s home to the new lighting installation, Light Creatures, which kicked off as part of the Illuminate Festival on July 8.

For the first time ever at the zoo, art, light, and technology have come together to shine a light on conservation and allow you to see and feel nature through a unique lens.

light creatures
light creatures adelaide zoo

Think animatronic giant pandas snacking on bamboo and rocking on the lawn in a nod to the real-life Wang Wang and Fu Ni. Imagine a gigantic Dreamtime skink, sitting atop a hill, and enormous giraffes forming an arch.

light creatures adelaide zoo

The makers behind the mesmerising display, in collaboration with the zoo, are A Blanck Canvas, Elizabeth Close, Jack Buckskin, Jimy McGilchrist, and Monkeystack. Interactive pathways and trails guide you around the after-dark world.

light creatures
light creatures adelaide zoo

I’m always a sucker for glowing jellyfish, so a highlight was the underwater wonderland, where jellyfish bob and coral changes hue.

While it was too dark to see any of the resident animals, I did hear the male lion, Mujambi, call to its lioness. And there’s just something cool about being let inside the zoo gates after dark, like you’re starring in a Mark and Mandy book. (Showing my age much?)

light creatures

Sessions run from 6.30pm to 9.30pm (10.30pm on Saturdays) and it’s recommended you allow 120 minutes to explore the site. Gazing at the displays, while soundscapes and stories play, can be quite meditative. You may be surprised at the amount of time that passes.

It gets quite cold (and a little muddy) wandering around the lawns in the evening, so make sure to rug up – waterproof boots and all. And keep a watchful eye on the kids amid the shadowy pathways. They’ll enjoy expending their energy at the lit-up nature playground too.

light creatures adelaide zoo

After you’ve checked out all the exhibits, you can indulge in a variety of winter food and beverages. Multiple food stations serve up yummy winter warmers like loaded fries, curries, and hot donuts, plus espresso coffee, hot chocolate, spicy mulled wine, and more.

Trip the light fantastic tonight!

Please note: Under-4s require a standard child ticket. And all people, including bubs and toddlers, count toward COVID capacity limits, and so need a ticket for admission.


Venue: Adelaide Zoo
Dates: 8 July – 1 August 2021

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