Wild Lights @ Dublin Zoo

The Wild Lights event is a Chinese Lantern Festival that takes place in Dublin Zoo and runs for almost 50 nights from November through to January, seeing thousands of people attend each night enjoying hundreds of illuminated installations throughout the zoo. 

This was the first time that the Dublin Zoo team had looked at running 'events', in the traditional sense, within the zoo. They did an immense amount of research in advance of deciding to proceed with the Wild Lights events. These events represented a significant investment of time and resources. 

When we were approached and asked to pitch for the event, we were excited at the challenges it would present. It's not often the opportunity to plan and manage events in an operational zoo comes up. Thankfully, Emma and her team chose to work with us and the adventure began.

The events featured:

  • 47 sold-out nights
  • 30 Chinese artists
  • Almost 2 months of a build
  • 115,000 pieces of porcelain
  • 48,000 glass bottles
  • 19,000 volts of electricity
  • 12,000 metres of silk

This was a significant undertaking, in every respect. The logistics around installing such an event in a live, operational zoo were considerable, as the animals took priority at all times and we'd to work around their routines and environments.

pictures below courtesy of Anne Griffen annefgriffin@icloud.com

The Challenge

Planning for the safe ingress, circulation & egress of thousands of people nightly, in the dark in an operational Zoo. One of the key challenges was around Emergency Procedures in a unique set of circumstances.

Our Solution

We worked extremely closely with both the Dublin Zoo team as well as the Chinese artists and project management team to plan the events. We were on site during the build, the event and the break. We developed a highly effective working relationship.

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The Result

Almost 200,000 people enjoyed the Wild Lights events across 47 nights during this sold-out run of shows. We effectively planned and managed their safe enjoyment in what was an unusual and challenging environment. We enjoyed every minute of these events.

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We worked extremely closely with both the Dublin Zoo team as well as the Chinese artists and project management team to plan the events. We were on site during the build, the event and the break. We developed a highly effective working relationship.

What we did

We spent a lot of time on site at the zoo, learning the environment and testing elements of our potential Event Management Plan. This, as well as some Dublin Zoo-specific training delivered by their consultant training team, fed into our work in planning the event as well as managing the build and installation elements. 

We used the first 6 public shows, in particular - all of which were sold out - to learn how the attendees utilised the space, what elements were most popular, what extra resources we might deploy to enhance the customer experience or to augment the emergency procedures. 

With 47 shows, it was a living, breathing plan. 

We provided:

  • Risk Assessments
  • Crowd Consultancy
  • PSCS services
  • Safe Capacity Calculations
  • Event Management Planning
  • Emergency Procedures development
  • Site Design Consultancy
  • Traffic Management Planning
  • Emergency Procedures development 
  • Statutory Liaison
  • Event Controllers
  • Safety Officers

Almost 200,000 people enjoyed the Wild Lights events across 47 nights during this sold-out run of shows. We effectively planned and managed their safe enjoyment in what was an unusual and challenging environment. We enjoyed every minute of these events.

What we did

The planning involved in the Wild Lights event was significant and extremely time-consuming. We worked closely with key statutory agencies including the HSE, An Garda Siochana and Dublin Fire Brigade, to ensure our plans were robust and workable.

We supplied Event Controllers and Safety Officers across all nights as well as working during and between shows to deal with technical difficulties and issues that arose. 

We undertook a significant piece of work in establishing Emergency Procedures for the Wild Lights events, heavily influenced by the constraints inherent in an environment that houses and caters for a wide variety of animals. The most workable 'event solution' was not always an option and, as such, we'd to go through multiple iterations of planning for a variety of event aspects. 

We were delighted to have Safe Events working with us on the Wild Lights events.

A zoo is a complex environment at the best of times. When we decided to run the Wild Lights events we understood that utilising the zoo as an event site would come with challenges.

Safe Events worked closely with us and all our stakeholders to establish plans to ensure a safe site and fantastic experience for all our visitors.

Emma Kiernan
Marketing Manager
Dublin Zoo