From 13th May until 5th June, Sydney Zoo is hosting the inaugural GLOW festival, offering western Sydney over 3 weeks of after dark fun. Forget trekking all the way into the city to see the bright lights while having to deal with the associated crowds and parking headaches. Sydney Zoo has created a fantastic, family-friendly and interactive alternative for the people of western Sydney.
The official opening was held on 12th May and was hosted by Monique Wright of Weekend Sunrise. We heard from Sydney Zoo's Managing Director, Jake Burgess, about the many unexpected challenges the zoo has faced since its opening in December 2019, not least of which include fires, floods and a global pandemic. We also heard from Mark Couter, of the Commonwealth Bank, the major partner of the festival and Suellen Fitzgerald of Greater Sydney Parklands. As the speeches concluded the VIP crowd commenced a countdown before the light installations of GLOW were officially turned on.
At GLOW, you're invited to explore over 50 light sculptures in the Glow Light Walk which meanders partway through the zoo grounds. There are a great variety of light installations from decorative lanterns to colourful butterflies, giant jolly frogs and an extremely playful platypus.
Little ones will love the Secret UV Safari where they can discover a trail of hidden animals and artwork with their very own free UV torch and map. Teens will enjoy the many photo opportunities along the trail including the angel wings, glowing rhino and the beautiful twinkling light tunnel.
Enjoy a birds-eye view of the festival aboard the KIIS Eye Ferris Wheel
In addition to the light sculptures, the walk features several interactive installations such as the shadow play wall and pledge wall where you can write your own pledge for wildlife in UV ink. To really get into the spirit of the festival Aboriginal guides are on hand in the Australia section offering face painting using glowing ochre paint.
While most of the zoo animals are tucked away and asleep at night, there is an opportunity to see some of the nocturnal animals as the GLOW Light Walk takes you through the reptile house. Perhaps excited by all of the unusual night-time activity, the snakes, lizards, stick insects and frogs were quite active and happy to be on show for the opening night.
Other nocturnal animals you may be lucky enough to see in their enclosures are wombats and dingoes and don't be surprised to see wallabies hopping along the trail with you in the Australia section. For a relaxing birds-eye view of the light festival, zoo and surrounds, jump aboard the brilliantly lit KIIS Eye Ferris Wheel.
After you've completed the Light Walk head into the GLOW Zone where you can glide around the GLOW Ice Rink or test your putting skills in a fun game of glowy golf. In the Neon Garden, little ones will enjoy the kinetic swings which glow brighter the higher you swing and playing the trumpet flowers. If you don't mind heights the Space Jam will take you for a spin 40 metres above the ground.
Of course, it wouldn't be a winter festival without novelty food and drink options such as beverages served in glowing light bulbs and glow in the dark fairy floss. But if you're after a more substantial meal there are a selection of food trucks in the GLOW Zone including Blackbear BBQ, Cluckin' Chicken, House of Gozleme, 4 Pines Bar, Waffle Popz, a cafe and Streets ice cream truck.
It wouldn't be a winter festival without some novelty food
GLOW at Sydney Zoo is open from 5.30 - 9.30pm each night from 13th May until 5th June 2022. You can select your Light Walk entry at the following times: 5.30, 6.00, 6.30, 7.00 and 7.30pm.
Tickets to GLOW are $25 online or free when you redeem a Service NSW voucher online. Children under 2 years old are free. You can purchase tickets online here. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate for $30. The Glow Light Walk is included in your entry ticket however the Ice Rink, Space Jam and KIIS Eye Ferris Wheel will incur additional charges.
Sydney Zoo is located in Bungarribee and is easy to access from both the M4 and M7 motorways. There is free parking on site.