Christmas at the Botanics: Spectacular light display used by Coldplay forms centrepiece of Edinburgh’s annual winter spectacle

A spectacular light display, used by Coldplay to create a magical setting at Glastonbury this summer, forms the centrepiece of one of Edinburgh’s most popular outdoor festive events.

By George Mair
Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:01 pm
The Botanics has been transformed into a winter wonderland.
The Botanics has been transformed into a winter wonderland.

Sea of Light is the stunning new finale of Christmas at the Botanics, the annual festive lighting trail, which opened at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) on Thursday night.

The mesmerising installation features an enchanting mix of sound and light that washes across the landscape in shimmering waves.

The vast installation, created by sound and light specialists ITHACA, was last seen in the summer when it surrounded the famous Pyramid stage in the absence of a live crowd at Glastonbury during Coldplay' s Live At Worthy Farm set.

Sea of Light is the stunning new finale of Christmas at the Botanics. Photo: Phil Wilkinson.

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Andy Rae, artist at ITHACA said: “We were honoured when asked by Coldplay to feature Sea of Light around their stage for a very special Glastonbury earlier this year. The organic nature of the installation creates a truly magical experience, and is one we get brilliant feedback on time and time again.

“We are excited to be able to have it featured among other spectacular pieces in Edinburgh this Christmas and know it will engage everyone that visits the Garden.”

For the fifth year in succession, the RBGE has been transformed into a winter wonderland, brought to life after dark by an array of more than one million lights, candles, projections, lamps and lasers.

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is expected to attract record numbers of visitors this Christmas. Photograph: Phil Wilkinson

This year's trail, using the attraction's natural landscape and historic buildings as a backdrop for the sound and light installations, is expected to attract record numbers of visitors.

Other magical attractions appearing for the first time include Digital Rain, Fireflies in the Woods and Aquastell, a gigantic installation comprising a series of dynamic lighting arches created by French lighting artists, Pitaya, which promises to “dazzle visitors as it displays several stunning lighting scenarios which change as people move around it, making it appear as if they are walking among shooting stars”.

Returning favourites in a year when family and friends can reunite over the festive season, include Christmas Cathedral, Fire Garden and a ‘visit from Santa’.

Kari Coghill, RBGE's Director of Enterprise and Communication, said: “This year’s trail is one of the most spectacular yet. We are really looking forward to welcoming visitors to the Garden over the coming weeks.“Those who attend directly contribute to our wider work, with profits from ticket sales helping to support our vital research and conservation efforts in Scotland and around the world.

“At a time when the impact of the climate on biodiversity is high on the agenda globally, our work is more important than ever.”

This year, health and safety measures are in place to ensure that visitors are able to enjoy the trail experience while following Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance. These include limits on visitors in each time slot, a one-way system and a request to make space for others as well as mandatory face coverings in indoor areas.

The trail runs until 2 January, 2022 (closed 29, 30 Nov, 6, 7, 8, 25, 31 Dec and 1 Jan). For ticket information, pricing and timings, visit

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