'˜Cathedral of Light' highlight of Royal Botanic Garden Christmas show

It is a haven in the city that has been decked out with more than a million twinkling lights, transforming it into a festive showstopper. Set to be one of the star turns at this year's Christmas at the Botanics in Edinburgh is the towering '˜Cathedral of Light', festooned with more than 100,000 lights '“ an immersive installation never seen in Scotland before,

A cathedral of light and a light show at the Victorian Palm House are among the offerings in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Picture: Greg Macvean

Seventy-metres long and next to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s (RBGE) famous Beech Hedge, it allows visitors to walk through a massive ‘light tunnel’ as part of a series of after-dark experiences.

Switched on last night, the one-mile trail weaves through the Botanics, using the garden’s natural landscape and historic buildings as a backdrop for awe-inspiring visual effects.

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The event’s offerings also include a fire garden, a vortex with squares of light and hexagonal shapes, illuminations projected on the walls of historic Inverleith House, a light show at the Victorian Palm House, and a festival finale on Inverleith House lawn.

Christmas at the Botanics. Picture: TSPL

The festival finale will feature brightly coloured projections dancing in time to much-loved Christmas classics.

Children will also have the chance to enjoy a Santa show along the route.

Visitors can round off the evening’s entertainment under the stars with a spiced cider, mulled wine or hot chocolate, and a meal.

Firepits will also be lit for toasting marshmallows before doing a spot of Christmas shopping at the gift shop at the John Hope Gateway.

Keepers said the show provides an opportunity to highlight the work being done in more than 50 countries as part of the International Conifer Conservation Programme.
Simon Milne, regius keeper at RBGE, said: “At a time when the only conifers we may be thinking about are Christmas trees, it is worth knowing that of the world’s 615 species, one third are listed as threatened.

“By coming to our event, visitors are helping us enormously to fund plant research, conservation and our work with communities.”

Mr Milne added: “Our profits from the trail go to help finance our important work in Scotland and around the world.”

Christmas at the Botanics is delivered with events promoter Raymond Gubbay, responsible for several successful light shows throughout the UK, including those at Kew Gardens in London and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Jonathan Marks, chief development officer, said the trail offered visitors a wide range of experiences.

“We are thrilled to be back in Edinburgh for the second time, delivering another Christmas at the Botanics in partnership with project and production management company, Culture Creative,” he said.

Mr Marks added: “There’s nothing more magical at Christmas than an immersive trail of dazzling light displays.

“Each installation has a unique theme, some tranquil and some more stimulating, to take you on a unique journey through the garden.”

In 2017, RBGE attracted 904,956 people – the largest number of visitors on record since 1936.

Factors contributing to the surge in numbers included the Garden’s Christmas at the Botanics event, which sold 70,000 tickets, and the blooming of the garden’s exotic Amorphophallus plant, which drew thousands of visitors in the summer.

Christmas at the Botanics is running for 30 nights until 29 December.

Tickets start from £14 per adult and £8 for children.

For events information and ticket bookings, people can visit www.rbge.org.uk.