Christmas At The Botanics dazzling new route and highlights revealed

IT'S Christmas every day for Zoe Bottrell - she's in charge of some of the world's biggest and most spectacular festive light shows including Edinburgh's own Christmas At The Botanics.

Zoe, head producer of trail creators Culture Creative, leads teams of expert technicians, lighting engineers and designers who literally spend all year making Christmas magic.

And today she revealed thre will be a new route and dazzling highlights as well as returning festive favourites set to lift the lockdown gloom, writes Graham Walker.

BUY TICKETS: Christmas at the Botanics has rescheduled its opening date to December 2 - to enable additional health and safety measures - then runs for 28 selected nights to January 3, 2001. For time slots and tickets visit

Now returning for its fourth year, the mile-long lights trail will be a highlight of RBGE's 350th anniversary celebrations after meeting all the pandemic health and safety measures required to give it not just the green light but every colour of the NHS rainbow.

More than 76,000 people were dazzled by its twinkling lights, projections, fire and lasers last year.

This year millions of individual pea lights, 700 lighting units and 10 kilometers of cable are being brought in to give it the wow factor like never before and bring some much needed extra cheer to families this Christmas.

Zoe revealed new installations include a projected light show on the 128 metre long modernist Front Range Glasshouses and Starfield – a large-scale installation of white LED twinkling stars by audio-visual designers Art AV.

Projections at Christmas At The Botanics

Tree tops will glisten and shimmer, drenched in seasonal colours, as the after-dark experience also returns the jaw dropping Cathedral of Light, a towering, 60-metres long walk-through archway, festooned alone with more than 100,000 lights.

The popular Laser Garden and Fire Garden are back and there will be a new grand finale projection to light up Inverleith House.

Christmas at the Botanics is one of seven illuminated trails brought by leading promoter Raymond Gubbay Limited and is held in partnership with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Culture Creative.

This is decking the halls on an industrial scale.

Cathedral Of Light

Spare a thought then, when you test your Christmas tree lights at home, that it takes Culture Creative workers nine months to do the same, explained Zoe.

But is she then demandingly hard to please when it comes to putting up the Christmas tree in the Bottrell family home?

Zoe laughs as she admits she's the one who does that.

She said: "We have a real Christmas tree every year and it is simply decorated.

Zoe Bottrell head producer of Culture Creative

"I've been lucky enough over the years to travel all over the world and wherever I go I bring back a Christmas decoration. So I have decorations on my tree from Canada, Italy, the United States and around the UK.

"But it's very simply decorated with some warm white Christmas tree lights and no tinsel - hashtag no tinsel. But wonderful memories that I have that can hang on this tree every year."

Zoe said: "It's Christmas every day in my office. But as we get closer it's exciting to see all the hard work in what has been an extremely challenging time come to fruition.

"We take the spirit and the beautiful natural infrastructure of these wonderful visitor attractions that we work in and we illuminate them at night.

"But alongside that we're working with a series of national and international artists who create a series of works you walk through on the trail.

"In its simplest form, we're taking you for a walk around the gardens at night. And in it's more detailed form, we are showcasing a whole series of site specific and existing illuminated artworks that will create a mile long trail through these wonderful landscapes that we have the privilege of working in."

She said of Christmas At The Botanics: "Every year we create a brand new trail. We bring in new artists and we look at different parts of the site. Our trails are always a mixture of celebrating the natural and built infrastructure that is in each of our wonderful visitor attractions that we work in and Edinburgh is absolutely no different.

"Alongside that we are bringing in a series of artists who create a series of different looks and feels that are around the garden from fire, to projection, to site specific work on one of the glass houses - we're taking a different route and looking at different parts of the garden so yeah, we're really excited that we've created something special for 2020

"Cathedral of light will be back, the fire garden as always, that we will have a very different position and a different look and feel. And we're doing a really interesting thing of mixing up fire with something that looks like fire, but might not quite be fire, I'm not going to give any more away. And we've got a laser garden, which went down so well in Edinburgh last year. So that has made a return. And we have what is again become a signature piece, really in Edinburgh is our projection on inverleith house.

"But again, a brand new projection, brand new content. And you know, just really creating something that's fresh and new, alongside some key pieces that I'm going to keep a bit more of a secret that are really bespoke to this year's show."


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