LISTEN: Dazzling Christmas At The Botanics lights spectacular details revealed in 'virtual walk through' - SPOILER ALERT
A DAZZLING new Christmas At The Botanics lights spectacular promises to light up Edinburgh like never before - today we bring you the full reveal.
If you want it to be a big surprise - until your own planned visit to the Royal Botanic Garden - don't read the 'virtual walk through' at the bottom of this story.
Let's just say the festive gift which keeps on giving this year boasts more than a million lights, incredible new installations, projections and the return of familiar favourites including a scented fire garden, lasers and the big one, the huge Cathedral of Light.
Creative producer Zoe Bottrell has given us an exclusive step by step preview as to what visitors will get when the spectacle opens in the grounds of the Royal Botanic Garden from November 22 to December 29.
BOOK TICKETS: Tickets for popular early evening and weekend time slots are selling out fast so buy now. Save money by buying in advance - adult £17, member £15 , family £52 , child (four to 16) £11. Carers/under-fours get free entry. Full details, on day pricing, timings and to book online visit www.rbge.org.uk.
E-LEAFLET: Also check out the page turning e-leaflet for tickets bookings links and video - CLICK HERE.
AUDIO: Zoe revealed Christmas At The Botanics details when she gave a 'virtual walk through' in an exclusive chat with Graham Walker - LISTEN HERE.
Zoe, of Cultural Creative, who oversees the project, explained how she and her team with partner Sony Music have also created similar lights trails this year at Kew Gardens, Blenheim Palace, a Forestry Commission site in Kent, three National Trust properties at Belton House in Lincolnshire, Dunham Massey and Stourhead and, for the first time abroad, at Chicago Botanic Gardens.
The lights trials in Edinburgh over the past two years have put the venue on the international map of top festive attractions.
It remains a unique attraction - built to highlight the individual landscape features of the venue.
The Botanics will again burst with colours, festive sounds and smells - from roast chestnuts to mulled wine - but the immersive experience is described by Zoe as something of an antidote to the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and parties.
She says it offers a sanctuary for visitors of all ages to relax and unwind in a reflective way as they spend quality time with loved ones in the great outdoors.
Zoe said: "We're really pleased to be going back into the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh, it's the most beautiful place to be in the winter. And yes, in our third year at the Botanics we've got a brand new show using lights, lasers and fire - but with old favourites as well, including our wonderful 60 meter Cathedral Of Light, which has more than 150,000 lights and was such a success in the Botanics last year.
"It stands seven meters at its entrance and five and a half meters at the exit, creating a wonderful perspective window - a corridor of pea lights and you walk down through it.
"We use lights like the ones on Strictly Come Dancing, that speed around the dance floor - we will use those on some of our bigger installations like on the Glass House.
"We have lots of programmed installations, coordinated to music. So yeah, it's a big old set up these days.
"We create the show to be an attack on all of your senses. The visual is obviously the lighting in the installations. We have the fire garden which is an entirely different form of light. There is a soundscape that runs across the site. And you can experience food and drink as you go around.
"The taste, the smell, the lights, the sound. Yeah, hopefully a little bit of everything to give you a full immersive experience."
"There are time slots for entry and I would urge people to buy in advance as soon as possible to get the weekend and early evening slots. They're already beginning to fill up fast."
SPOILER: Christmas At The Botanics revealed - 'virtual walk through' details below.
Zoe said she's as excited as anyone to see her visualisations become a reality and in an exclusive chat - click here to listen to it in full - she detailed exactly what visitors will get at Christmas At The Botanics.
The trail begins with festive classic, It's Beginning To Look A lot Like Christmas - it will play as visitors step through a series of arches, festooned with icicles, into a world of 400 illuminated spheres and a programmed lights show.
Next up an interactive installation - step on a platform, hold hands with family and friends and watch what happens.
Then a crest of a wave moment, as 300 illuminated boats light your way before a fire garden and the chance to taste marshmellows in a wildlife friendly low light level space.
The trial explodes back into a bright Christmas with 150,000 bubs creating a 60-meter long and seven meters high Cathedral of Light.
Look out for Santa and his elves - there's also an informative children trial this year looking at plants
Next, a magic floor - visitors make it move to reveal things below their feet.
There's a new look laser garden, with spectacular vista views of Edinburgh city and the castle.
Them to the grand final, a fun new projection onto the venue's Inverleith House celebrating the site and winter flora and fauna.
Zoe went into detail - click this link here to listen to our chat in full - she said: "John Hope Gateway is where we ask ticket holders to enter if they arrive by car - with lots of street parking around there. Further details of that are available on the website. Visitors can also use East Gate on the opposite side of the garden where we would suggest people come in using public transport, because that's along the bus route.
"So we'll start at John Hope Gateway, where you hopefully bought a hot drink to warm yourself up before you head out into the winter evening, .
"You'll first go through a series of arches that will really put you in the Christmas spirit. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas is what you'll here and certainly that's how we want you to start the trail.
"There'll be icicles and all the things that will hopefully lift you into that absolute seasonal mood of what you anticipate to see in front of you.
"We've then got a huge installation of about 400 spheres that will sit across a lawn across the garden, stretching right the way from one side of the trail to the other. It's a programmed show. It's excellent. An existing work we've created that's coming to Edinburgh this year. It will sit alongside catering space so you can sit and watch that show - it's seven or eight minutes long - while having something to drink or eat and warm yourself. It plays with the contours of the land, with the lawns and it highlights the trees that are interspersed amongst those lawns as well.
"Walk on past there and get together with your family to help us make the next thing work. There'll be a platform where you stand, with one person on one side and one on the other - grab hold of a handrail and when you all join hands, something magical will happen. I'm not going to tell you what that is - you'll have to come along to find out.
"You then head around to the pond and a beautiful installation by an Italian artistic practice that are bringing over 300 illuminated boats together beautifully programed to soft classical back palette of music - just a real beautiful way to look at the reflection of how the water and the boats will interact with one another.
:"This is a real peaceful calm area of the garden and whilst we are in a calm mood we continue around and head towards our fire garden - in a new location for this year, using one of the slight rises in the landscape,to see the fire at different heights and in different stages along that lawned area.
"You may just decide you want to taste the marshmallow which could be another lovely snack to have whilst you're heading around the trail.
"As you head along a particular area of the garden we keep low light levels because of wildlife that needs us to.
"There is a magic floor but 'm not going to give too much away here - you will have to help us make this floor move and shift and reveal things below your feet.
"Head back towards the garden, from a fantastic existing piece of architecture, synonymous with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, you'll walk into our wonderful piece of architecture - the Cathedral of Light.
"You will keep walking and walking and walking through this sculpture, with a fantastic perspective window at the end. You'll come out of the Cathedral of Light and into a copse of trees which will have a very seasonal feel and you might just meet a man in a big red coat - there to entertain us and very much there to to help you think about some of the things that we've had on this year's children's Christmas trail looking at different plants and different horticultural aspects of winter. So not not the trees so much this year, but more so the plants.
"Then head up back towards Inverleith House through two installations that will take us through a long bend, back up around that copse of trees. You'll see the Cathedral of Light on a side perspective, which is a great way to see how that perspective in that architecture comes through. And all of a sudden there will be a million dancing green buds across the floor as the laser garden stretches ahead of you, and out from the height of the trees.
"You bend back around the corner and as you do so you'll see a wonderful vista across Edinburgh city, the castle and back in towards the city centre.
"And as you turn around towards Inverleith House our fun projection will start - our finale of this year's show. culminating in all of those things that you've seen around the site and looking again at how we can celebrate the winter flora and fauna of the Botanical Gardens, which will hopefully leave you on a high as you return to John Hope Gateway and back in to the warmth."