Following its extraordinary inaugural success last year when it attracted over 23,000 visitors and won ‘Best Large Event’ at the Scottish Events Awards, Botanic Lights is back with a new show 'Seasons in Colour'.
This year’s light artist, leading Scottish lighting designer Grant Anderson, who brings vast artistic experience and credits to the enterprise, neatly describes this year’s concept with the words, “In Scotland, it’s often said that you can experience four seasons in one day. Visitors to Botanics Lights will be able to experience four seasons in just one night! …”
And that’s just what you can do! From the first approaching steps from the East Gate whose silver rhododendron splendour has become a grand enticing peacock tail to the mesmerising finale at the Pond, this brilliant spectacle lets you experience, sometimes at will, Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter.
At first there is as definite Edinburgh restraint but slowly, slowly the pleasure of this early Winter light show reveals its magic. Technology maximises the experience early on with tablets allowing visitors to change the colours of the landscape at the touch of a rainbow screen, its palette of cold and warm shades setting the tone for more elaborate seasonal changes.
Move on to the Chinese Hillside, featured this year for the first time, and witness a miracle of a fire and water fountain before a dark walk along a path of subtly lit trees. Then climb under spotlights that give your own giant shadows a Hallowe’en atmosphere with the prize of a ghostly clarsach in a pagoda.
Other than the delighted gasps of fellow visitors, the only sounds are from the hauntingly atmospheric music created by Claire McKenzie who is also Resident Composer for the Royal Lyceum theatre’s 14/15 Season.
The solid Georgian Inverleith House, that throughout the year houses art exhibitions, takes on a strangely ephemeral quality as it serves as a backdrop for a series of beautiful and fantastical botanical projections. In fact that is the sense that dominates –the novelty of being in a familiar environment that’s been totally transformed by its new nocturnal trappings.
Throughout this magical amble through a technological fairyland, it would be easy to imagine real fairies lurking with their wee arms folded and their wee feet tapping in annoyance at being so utterly upstaged by these man made illuminations that are causing so many childlike gasps of wonder!
For Twitter savvy visitors, a series of hashtags (#BLSpring #BLSummer #BLAutumn #BLWinter) can change the lighting and audio accompaniment to spectacular a chosen season in the famous Victorian Palm House, the scene changing as the voting fluctuates throughout the evening.
Add to all these delights some tasteful refreshment stalls and strategically dotted ushers across the lighted area are ready to veer you on the right track of the 15 points on the trail and you have a walk in the park well worth making.
Botanic Lights is presented by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in association with Scotland’s leading independent event producers Unique Events working in partnership with lighting, AV and sound specialists Black Light. Additional income raised by Botanic Lights will be gifted back to the Garden to fund important conservation work and plant research.
Entry is by ticket only. Tickets are on sale now from www.rbge.org.uk/botaniclights, by calling 0844 573 8455, or in person at The Fringe Shop, 180 High Street, Edinburgh. There is also a Box Office at the Garden’s North Gate for pre-paid ticket collections, and sales (subject to availability), open every day of the event from 1630hrs. Plus, there is a ticket sales and collection machine at the John Hope Gateway during normal Garden opening hours.
Botanic Lights: 29-31 October: 1700hrs – 2200hrs (last slot 2030hrs)
1-22 November: 1700hrs – 2200hrs (last slot 2030hrs)
Mondays excluded Tickets are priced £14.00 for adults and £7.00 for children under 16.
This year, family tickets are available from a starting price of £24.00 (available for 5pm -7.30pm sessions) – see website for details. Groups (10+ adults) pay £12.00 per person and infants (0-2 years) and carers go free, but still require an event ticket. Prices quoted include all booking fees.