Under cover of darkness, in the heart of the City, the abundant natural landscape of ‘the Botanics’ will come alive this winter, when the gates are opened to visitors at night-time. Who knows how many pairs of little glowing ‘eyes’ will be keeping watch over them as the Garden sheds some light on its after-dark secrets?
This November, visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) will be invited to enter the Garden after dark for a spectacular outdoor event featuring a magical combination of light and nature. It is the first outdoor light experience of its kind to be organised by the Garden.
Night in the Garden, which starts on 30 October and runs until 23 November, has been created by the Botanics and Edinburgh-based Unique Events, in association with Scottish light artist Malcolm Innes and his colleague Euan Winton. The artists’ vision means that night-time visitors will be able to make their way through a one kilometre route full of light and shadow and experience the Botanics in an entirely new manner, with interactive stations and a few unexpected surprises along the way.
The outdoor trail will use the Garden’s favourite features, such as the famous Victorian Glasshouses and Pond, as the backdrop for extraordinary light effects. Visitors can watch ‘the sun’ set inside the Palm House, see a host of sparkling lights suspended over water and enjoy enchanting illuminations that bring the indoors outside. They will also have the opportunity to create their own light show by manipulating some of the installations themselves.
Heather Jackson, RBGE’s Director of Enterprise, commented: “This is a chance for those who know and love the Edinburgh Garden, as well as new visitors of course, to see it in a completely different light – quite literally.
“We have over 700,000 daytime visitors a year and we are often asked if it’s possible to come at night, so we thought we’d come up with something unique to create a truly enchanting experience.
“The planned light installations by Malcolm promise to be spectacular, and by combining the wonder of light with the secrets of the trees and nature we have in abundance, it will certainly be a magical evening to remember for our night-time visitors.”
Malcolm Innes said: “The Garden at night is already a magical place, as some of the most recognisable features softly merge into the darkness. It is this new reality that we will be manipulating to create installations that span the range from grand spectacle, through romantic and beautiful, to mysterious and tiny.
“The kind of hard edged, simplified geometry we learn at school is seldom discussed in relation to the natural world, but when the two are brought together, the visual effect can be magical. Come and join us and bring the family as we turn the world inside out and make the invisible, visible.”
The event will be open to members of the public with an hour-long experience allowing visitors to participate in something that they have never seen before, with different parts of the route being jaw-droppingly spectacular, some romantic and pretty, and others just a wee bit spooky – although not enough to put the kids off. Night in the Garden is an event for all the family.
The experience is being delivered by RBGE and Unique Events, Scotland’s leading independent events company; organisers of the capital’s famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations and large-scale outdoor festivals and events. ‘Botanic Lights’ installations are designed by Malcolm Innes and Euan Winton of Edinburgh Napier University, and Leith-based Black Light is working with the partners to deliver lighting installation technical support.
Pete Irvine of Unique Events said: “Unique Events is delighted to be involved in this exciting and innovative project. The Botanics is one of Edinburgh’s best loved places to visit in any season, but we will never have experienced it like this.”
Visitors to Night in the Garden will be required to purchase tickets in advance for a specific date and time slot. Tickets will go on sale soon, with further details about how to get them, along with information about timings and facilities on offer, to be released over the next few weeks. In the meantime, further information about the event can be seen at www.rbge.org.uk/botaniclights.