Edinburgh’s Botanic Lights go out in favour of festive event

The Botanic Lights at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
The Botanic Lights at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
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The Royal Botanic Garden has cancelled a nighttime sound and light show after three years – months after closing down its long-running art gallery.

Organisers of the Botanic Lights event revealed its demise despite the month-long spectacle attracting more than 42,000 visitors last 
autumn.

Unique Events, the firm behind Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, which created the spectacle in collaboration with the Botanics, said it had been told the event would no longer be continuing after being asked to tender for a new contract.

Leading Scottish artists, composers and lighting designers had worked on the project, which was honoured at both the Scottish Event Awards and the Museum and Heritage Awards in 2015.

But it will not be going ahead again this year after Botanics management decided to bring in a London-based promoter to stage a Christmas lights event instead.

The shake-up has been exposed in the wake of a bitter row over the sudden closure of Inverleith House, the art gallery which showcased work by leading artists like Luke Fowler, Douglas Gordon, Callum Innes and Richard Wright before its closure shortly after a 30th anniversary exhibition.

Botanics management later agreed to set up a taskforce to explore the future of Inverleith House after the intervention of the Scottish Government, which funds the attraction.

A statement from Unique Events said: “We are sad to report that following a tender process by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the decision has been made that the award-winning Botanic Lights event, which last year welcomed over 42,000 visitors to experience the garden illuminated at night, will not be 
continuing.

“Having created the event back in 2014 and produced it since its inception, we are immensely proud to have positioned Botanic Lights as a high-profile attraction with large attendances in a short period of time.

“It is testament to the 
quality and creativity of the team and we would like to thank everyone who worked on the event over the years.”

Botanics management confirmed that classical music promoter Raymond Gubbay’s events company had been appointed to stage a festive event.

The company, which has worked with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti, Kiri Te Kanawa, Henry Mancini, Yehudi Menuhin, Bryn Terfel and Katherine Jenkins, has previously staged events in Kew Gardens and Blenheim Palace.

Heather Jackson, director of enterprise at the Botanics, said: “This relationship presents us with the opportunity to grow the concept of illuminations into a memorable festive experience for local people and visitors to enjoy during the Christmas period. We look forward to providing updates as our plans develop.”