AUDIO PREVIEW: Christmas at the Botanics at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh - full details revealed
IT'S beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh where work is underway this week to transform it into a spectacular new festive landscape lights trail.
And today full details emerged about Christmas At The Botanics in our exclusive chat with creative producer Zoe Bottrell, who is the Director of Culture Creative, the company overseeing the project.
SPOILER ALERT: Zoe gives us a virtual guided walk through the forthcoming Christmas light show spectacular in our audio chat and we have full details at the bottom of this story.
LISTEN: Hear Christmas At The Botanics creative producer Zoe Bottrell in conversation with Graham Walker - CLICK HERE.
TICKETS: For Christmas At The Botanics, which runs from November 24 to December 30, are from Â£14 for an adult and Â£8 for children under 16. For full details and to pre-book a guaranteed time slot visit www.rbge.org.uk/whats-on/home/christmas.
The mile-long illuminated trail, brought to life with 20km of cable, powering thousands of lights, will definitely live up to the hype.
The winter wonderland walk, inspired by the Garden itself, with feature an enchanting Crystal Lawn, boasting 1,000 spheres of light, bobbing gently on stalks, a UV lit tunnel of bubbles and a huge 11m high tree sculpture.
Dazzling installations will compliment stunning transformations of the venue's Glasshouses and magnificent Beech Hedge, which will be spectacularly lit.
There will be a 'mistletoe' area, where loved ones can share a traditional festive kiss and a Santa and his elves show.
Spiced cider, mulled wine, hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts and toasted marshmallows will some of the tasty treats also in store.
It follows details of previous highlights to also include a choir of 'singing'; conifers, a fairytale avenue, colour-changing trees “festooned with giant baubles” and a flickering scented Fire Garden.
Families are already going Christmas crackers for it with 30-minute interval time slot tickets being snapped up for the magical, new after dark experience, from November 24 to December 30.
"It's about an attack on all of your senses," said Zoe. Hear the full interview online.
"The predominant part of this is the lighting - it's an after dark experience, but we certainly look at a sense of taste, smell and sound to give you a complete and utter atmosphere for you to walk through.
"It's about the experience being immersive and the fact that you feel that something is happening not just in front of you but around you and you can participate in a number of different things.
"it will take about 45 minutes to an hour to get around it all but we have seating and catering around the trail for people to stop and enjoy it, to take it all in. It really is an experience for all of the family."
She said of the build work starting this week: "It takes two to three weeks so the public will start to see some of the structures. But we are OK with that. It gives people a taste of what's to come and what they see during the day will be nothing like what they will get at night.
"So not so much of a sneak peek. It's all about what happens when the lights go on."
Culture Creative, the design team behind the spectacle, have previously worked with English Heritage, the National Trust, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Forestry Commission and the National Trust for Scotland.
It is organised by concerts and events promoter, Raymond Gubbay Ltd, which has a successful track record of producing well received Christmas light trails at Kew Gardens in London, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire and Berlin Botanic Gardens.
Edinburgh-based lighting designers, Simon Hayes and Kate Bonney, have been responsible for the site design and show creation. They will bring several first-time lighting installations to Scotland, including Squidsoup’s Bloom, 1,000 spheres of light, each on a stalk, bobbing in front of Inverleith House.
Special outdoor lighting technology will allow each spherical unit to listen, respond and communicate together, to form what is being described as a spatialised audio-visual symphony.
French artist studio, TILT, will also make its inaugural visit to Scotland with Echinodermus, an 11m high structure inspired by the echinocactus family. The massive tree-like sculpture will be transported from France and built, piece by piece, in front of the famous Palm House.
Christmas At The Botanics is set to put Edinburgh on a par with other cities like London and Berlin, which offer similar.
Zoe said: "Where we would say this is unique is that we are working with the landscape infrastructure that is part of the Gardens. That is what makes this very special and unique. We are creating a trail highlighting some of the best parts, the fantastic specimens and engaging artists to produce a variety of installations, using technology, flames, sound and all full of Christmas.
"There will be surprises along the way - certain things that will sing, that you may not expect, tunnels of bubbles and picture frames where you can take your photograph and send to your loved ones.
"A lot of the video footage we have released so far is actually of other shows that we have produced elsewhere. We are bringing some of the best bits of artistic and technological practice that we've developed and worked with over the last 12 years to make the shows as great as they can be.
Zoe added: "Edinburgh already has a fantastic Christmas offer but what this will do is give people a tranquil place to come and enjoy a really family friendly, light-hearted night out - the chance to reflect with friends and family, to look at art works but also have some fun.
"We believe people will come from all over Scotland and Northern England, up to a two hour drive away. We hope this will be one of Europe's must-see festive light shows. We have others with Raymond Gubbay which are now on people's calendar as part of their traditional Christmas outing. That's something we want to achieve in Edinburgh."
* Christmas At The Botanics will open from 4.45pm daily, with last entry at 8pm, two hours before it closes at 10pm. Entry is by ticket only and visitors are being advised to book early to secure their chosen time slot. Prices are Â£14 to Â£18 for adults, with discounted offers for members, and Â£8 to Â£12 for children under 16. Family tickets are available from Â£38. Under 4’s and carers go free, but still require an event ticket. For details see www.rbge.org.uk/whats-on/home/christmas.
SPOILER - HERE'S WHAT YOU WILL SEE:
Christmas At The Botanics visitors will be immersed in festive sights, sounds and smells.
Starting at John Hope Gateway, visitors will take the path towards Inverleith House to marvel at an art work by Squidsoup, called Bloom - 1,000 spheres of light, each on a stalk, bobbing gently on the enchanting Crystal Lawn.
Stop for a moment to change the colour of the trees yourself.
As you head down the hill, The Heart of Stars, a giant heart-shaped mirror ball scatters tiny diamonds of light high into the night sky.
Walk through a tunnel of bubbles, then continue through to the sights and sounds of the Choir of Trees - a woodland grove of nine 'singing' conifer trees, each with a voice and lights to respond as you walk past.
Glittering trees festooned with giant baubles will then fill your senses before you are mesmerised by the hypnotic beauty of a flickering, scented Fire Garden.
At the end of that footpath emerge in front of the famous Palm House featuring the 11m high Echinodermus - a massive tree-like sculpture, created by French artist studio TILT and making its inaugural visit to Scotland where it is being built, piece by piece.
Next marvel at the lights and sounds used to transform the Glasshouses before a 'mistletoe moment', to get a traditional kiss from a loved one under the mistletoe.
Stroll along a fairy tale avenue of giant glowing butterflies and pause at the magnificent Beech Hedge illuminated by flashes of sparkling light.
Father Christmas and his elves also put on a show - though there are no one-to-ones with Santa.
Heading back towards John Hope Gateway you can complete your Christmas treat under the stars with spiced cider, mulled wine or hot chocolate, whilst the aroma of roasting chestnuts fills the air.
Toast marshmallows at one of the fire pits and enjoy other traditional fare before browsing the Garden's festive gift shop.Visitors can also pre-book to eat in the restaurant at John Hope Gateway.
* There are two entrances for Christmas at the Botanics. Car users are being asked to arrive by the West Gate entrance, on Arboretum Place. Those on foot or arriving by public transport should do so by the East Gate entrance on Inverleith Road.