OVER 25 specialist craftspeople from China have made a 5,000-mile journey to Scotland’s capital to create RZSS Edinburgh Zoo’s winter extravaganza, The Giant Lanterns of China.

This week, the craftspeople will begin building over 450 gigantic lantern installations and transforming Edinburgh Zoo into an impressive light spectacle for 50 nights between 1 December 2017 and 25 February 2018. The craftspeople from Sichuan province in China will stay in Edinburgh throughout the winter months to help maintain the 469 lanterns that will form The Giant Lanterns of China event.

Pupils from Braehead Primary School, Stirling were part of the official welcoming committee at the Zoo. A group of P5 school pupils performed a traditional Chinese dance, ??? mò lì hu? which translate to Jasmine Flower. They also presented the Chinese group with an extra special gift – the adoption of a Scottish wildcat, the only native cat species which can be seen at the Zoo. In return, the craftspeople gifted the pupils with a bespoke, handmade cherry blossom lantern to be put on display at the school.

Barbara Smith, CEO at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said: “After a 5,000-mile journey from China, we are thrilled to welcome the craftspeople to Edinburgh Zoo. The lantern sculptures created by the artisans are absolutely awe-inspiring and we look forward to seeing the giant lanterns transform the Zoo this winter. The countdown is now on to our official switch on in December.”

Mr Ming, Project Manager for VYA Creative Lantern Company, said: “We are very excited to be in Scotland’s capital. The Giant Lanterns of China will capture the magic of China’s traditional lantern festivals and offer a taste of Sichuan culture for visitors at Edinburgh Zoo. We would like to give heartfelt thanks to the school pupils who learned a Chinese dance and welcomed us with the gift of a Scottish wildcat adoption.”

The Giant Lanterns of China trail will explore three themes: China, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) worldwide animal conservation work. The large-scale lanterns include 30 giant pandas and a 115-foot long Chinese dragon, which took 15 craftspeople a total of 2,000 hours to build.

The lanterns will be showcased alongside beautiful flowers, fauna, insects, and Chinese heritage symbols such as signs of the zodiac and traditional archways. The Giant Lanterns of China project is co-produced by DDM Entertainment & Events Inc of Ontario, Canada and The VYA Creative Lantern Company.

Each evening, visitors to the event will be entertained with special surprises such as performances, food and craft stalls. It will give visitors a taste of Chinese culture while they explore the epic works of lantern art.

Tickets for The Giant Lanterns of China are priced from £17.50 per adult and available at: edinburghzoo.org.uk/lanterns