A Lantern Festival Lights the Way at Jungle Island


"Luminosa" is presented by Zigong Lantern Group at Jungle Island. (Photo courtesy of Jungle Island)

Charlotte Libov

Jungle Island began its glowing festival in 2019 and it was a hit. But since the pandemic shutdown, "Luminosa" has been on hold..

The 40 massive, glowing displays, cover most of the park’s 1.35-mile trail,

"We couldn’t wait to bring it back,” says Lauren Inderbitzin, Jungle Island’s zoological operations director.

"Luminosa" opened just before Thanksgiving, and will remain on view through February.



At "Luminosa," a menagerie of oversized, lifelike flora and fauna, from spectacular parrots, flamingoes and butterflies to a stealthy leopard and elephant (Photo courtesy of Jungle Island)

The displays, some individual, and some arranged together in groups, according to themes, are the work of 150 artisans. They spent seven months creating the lantern displays, and then a 25-member team installed it using 120 tons of steel, 150,000 feet of silk, 43,600 LED bulbs and 500,000 feet of LED strips, and a variety of artistic techniques, including painting and airbrushing, to create the final desired effect.

“The team came over to Jungle Island and worked for countless hours to handcraft every single lantern, they didn’t just bring them in and set them up. Everything was made by hand,” says Inderbitzin.

They were created in keeping with Jungle Island’s purpose, which showcases different plants and animals, as well as the attraction’s commitment to adventure, she says.

“' Luminosa’ is set up so that you visit different lands, both ancient, mythological, or across the globe; and the displays are completely handcrafted from Chinese silk lanterns. They are all different from 2019, so, if you visited then, you will see something completely new.”

The festival is also family friendly; indeed, when visited, the park was filled with people of all ages, ranging from parents pushing toddlers in strollers all the way up to older adults.


"Luminosa" displays are designed around the themes of mythical jungle wildlife, ancient Asian dynasties, and legendary Latin culture. (Photo courtesy of Jungle Island)

“Everywhere you look there is something else to look at, something else to pose with, something different to video. People come here all dressed up, ready to take each other’s pictures by these huge lantern displays, and the results are truly breathtaking” says Inderbitzin.

“Luminosa” is a collaboration between Jungle Island and the Orlando-based Zigong Lantern Group, the only American manufacturer of custom-designed lanterns and lamps, according to the company,

Lantern festivals have a beginning that can be traced back to 3,000 and 4000 BC, the company says. Both the ancient and global influence of lantern festival traditions can be seen in “Luminosa.”


"Luminosa" artisans used 120 tons of steel and 150,000 feet of silk to create the experience. (Photo courtesy of Jungle Island)

The displays are located throughout the park. Some of the major highlights include:

  • Jungle Amalia, featuring a menagerie of oversized, lifelike flora and fauna, from spectacular parrots, flamingoes and butterflies to a stealthy leopard and elephant, were designed as creatures enhance the natural inhabitants of the park.
  • Atlantis, with a towering Neptune, trident in hand, and its sunken palaces and marine wonders that emerge from the depths, painting tales of a city lost yet remembered.
  • Ancient China, marked by its stoic terracotta warriors and intricate dragon tunnels, serves as a bridge to a time of emperors and dynasties.
  • Latin American legends, featuring the rich narratives of Maya culture and the exuberance of Día de Los Muertos celebrations are portrayed through a vivid interplay of light and tales.


"Luminosa" is made up of 40-plus illuminated sculptures crafted by 150 artisans in a collision of creativity and culture. (Photo by Jungle Island)

Indeed, it seems that not a spot in the park is devoid of huge, oversized, colorful and lit displays, from giant flowers to butterflies, to jungle creatures to jellyfish; all sorts of mythical and wonderful creatures that loom everywhere.

The festival also features Chinese artisans demonstrating ancient crafts, which are for sale. In addition, there is food and drink available for purchase, which include American fare, as well as Asian specialties, to highlight the displays. There is also music throughout the park, and, each night, people can gather in the theater area for live shows at 7 and 9 p.m. featuring different Chinese acrobatic acts, including a unicyclist, mask performers and spinning plate performers.

“Even though I’ve walked through her one hundred times or more, every time I do, I see something different,” says Inderbitzin.

“Luminosa” is open Sunday to Thursday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tickets are priced according to access; $29.90 to $37.90 adults, children ages 3 to 10, from $20.93 to $26.93, and $25.42 to $32.22 for students, seniors 65+, and military personnel. Group rates are available. Jungle Island: 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, Fla., 33132. (305) 400-7000,,

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