Edinburgh, Scotland

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

I love Christmas, even more than Ebenezer Scrooge did after he’d been visited by four ghosts on Christmas Eve (count them again if you doubt me). I’ve been known to stare at Christmas lights in a trance like state, until my eyes go all woogly. So, imagine my excitement when I was invited to the press launch of Christmas at the Botanics. After a successful debut in 2017, Christmas at the Botanics has returned to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and it’s bigger and better than before.

Christmas at the Botanics in November!

Generally, I have a rule. Christmas is banned until December. Christmas decorations in November bring out my inner Grinch. My rule dictates that no Christmas movies, music or festive frivolity will be tolerated until at least the 1st of December. Then it’s ‘ding dong merrily on high’ and ‘fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la’ all the way. This year, I ripped up the rule book on 23rd November.

With Mr G working, my Mum accompanied me on this ‘Scotland (without) The Wee White Dug’ assignment. Her role was to be companion, bloggers assistant and occasional photo prop. Little did I know it would be like having Mr G by my side, but back when he was a rookie blogger’s assistant who infuriatingly wandered into shot every time I pointed my camera, and spoke the second I hit record to shoot a video.

We arrived at the botanics as the daylight was waning. A shimmering Christmas tree outside stopped us in our tracks. Much oohing and ahhing later, we joined the press pack inside the Gateway Restaurant for coffee, chocolate brownies, and mince pies.

Check at the Botanics, Edinburgh

Let the twinkling lights commence

High on sugar and (unseasonably early) festive cheer, we headed into the garden to begin winding our way round a mile-long trail of light and sound installations. Over a million twinkling lights would guide us.

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

The haunting sound of Ave Maria floated through the air, drawing us towards its source. Music has a profound ability to transport you through space and time. Suddenly, I was standing on the shore of Loch Katrine, the setting for Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem Lady of the Lake, which inspired Schubert to write Ave Maria.

The first light installation on the trail quickly brought me back to the here and now though. Carbonium by French artist TILT wouldn’t have looked out of place in Tim Burton’s Christmas Town – I loved it.

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

We continued along the trail, passing under a canopy of gorgeous white lights.

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

Never work with children & animals parents

Before we immersed ourselves in Squidsoup’s Feast of Light, I decided to take a couple of “candid” snaps.

Me: “Mum, stand in front of the installation and look at the lights.”

Me: “No, don’t look at me. Turn around and look at the lights.”

Mum (looking at me): “Like this?”

Me: “No, turn right around and look at the lights.”

Mum (turning halfway around): “What?”

Me: “The lights, look at the lights.”

Me: “Och never mind, let’s just go inside.”

Mum: “What?”

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

Arms outstretched, we walked into the lights. I say we, but I soon realised I was alone. Up and down I went looking for my awol parent. Had she been beamed into an alien spacecraft by the lights?

Finally she reappeared.

Me: “It was fun in there.”

Mum: “Are you allowed inside?”

With an exasperated eye-roll I marched her through Feast of Light, and onto the next installation before the garden closed for the evening.

Christmas trees, shimmering snowflakes and churros

Being surrounded by Christmas trees, was a sobering reminder that a third of the world’s 615 conifer species are currently listed as threatened. A scary thought when you think of the legacy we’re leaving for future generations.

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

We continued along the trail, cheered by pretty lights and festive music. With plans already made for dinner later, it took a remarkable display of willpower to pass the tempting delights dotted along the trail.  Chocolate slathered churros, toasting marshmallows, sausages and mulled wine – mmmm, I could have eaten them all.

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

Fire, dancing trees and a cathedral of light

Fire Garden hypnotised us with dozens of dancing flames. We stopped for a while to soak up some heat, and to listen to a lovely instrumental version of Silent Night. Silent Night conjures up images of cold, stillness for me, so I loved how it’d been used in an installation featuring warmth and movement.

The further round the trail we went, the more spectacular it got. I love the grand Victorian architecture of the palm house at the botanics – it’s the epitome of Edinburgh elegance.

Watching it turn all the colours of the rainbow as Christmas trees danced in the windows was an absolute delight.

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

I wondered if the trail had peaked too soon with the palm house display, but I needn’t have worried. What followed was incredible.

Cathedral of Light is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Being enveloped by 100,000 lights as you walk through a 70 metre long tunnel is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.

A miracle happened in the Cathedral of Light too. My Mum perfected the walking off into the distance shot. I’ll make a blogger’s assistant of her yet.

Santa, I know him

Leaving the Cathedral of Light I heard a familiar booming voice and felt a rush of excitement – SANTA.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to see Santa with my Mum, so I was long overdue a trip to visit the big fella.

We found him standing outside a cute little cabin with one of his helpers. I inched forward for a better look. It wasn’t any old Santa either. This was a quality Santa, like the one you see in movies and fancy American malls.

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

Dear Santa – the grand finale

Christmas at the Botanics ended with a phenomenal grand finale. Dear Santa by designer Ross Ashton saw Inverleith House spring to life, transformed beyond recognition by amazing projected images. We watched spellbound as gingerbread men, dancing robots and Santa appeared.

It was a brilliant end, to a fun night out. It may only have been the 23rd of November but I for one was feeling super, Christmassy when I left the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh that evening.

Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh

Christmas at the Botanics runs until 29th December 2018. Tickets cost from £14 for adults and £8 for children. Children under four and carers go free. For more information, or to book, visit the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh website.

Thanks to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for inviting me to their Christmas at the Botanics press launch. Although my entry to the event was on a complimentary basis, all opinions are my own.

Until next time …………

25 thoughts on “Christmas at the Botanics, Edinburgh”

  1. We made a special weekend trip to see the lights at the Botanic after reading your blog and weren’t disappointed!
    They were beautiful , so imaginative and artistic. A great experience.

    1. Awww so happy to hear you enjoyed them too. It was so cleverly done and I loved that they appealed to all ages.

  2. This is so lovely! Thanks for sharing! Years ago, I was in Edinburgh just before Christmas, but I didn’t visit the Botanic Gardens. I guess I’ll have to make a visit back!

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I can definitely recommend if you’re ever back in Edinburgh at Christmas time. 😍🎅🎄

  3. Oh this looks LOVELY! That tunnel with the lights!! Your mum is hilarious too haha. I haven’t been to the botanic gardens for Christmas yet, but I’m moving to Edinburgh this weekend so that’s going on my “going exploring” list!!

    1. If you’re moving here you definitely need to go. It’s lovely. I can lend you my mum as a photo prop. 😂

    1. Thanks Tanja, it was very beautiful and the music was perfect, so happy to break the rules a little in 2018. 😊

  4. Beautiful photos, makes me feel like I was there. The mince pie looks different than the ones you find here in the US. What is the filling like?

    1. It was a lovely night. The mine pies were just mini homemade ones so The pastry looks different. It’s filled with fruit. 😍

  5. Not really much in the way of city Christmas lights but when Christmas in in the middle of summer with temps of 38 – 42c and ‘s light until 10pm, it makes it difficult. Although many houses are decorated and there is a constant stream of cars driving around with the children to view all the house lights – and some of them are quite spectacular. This year – surprise, surprise, the Children’s Christmas Pageant was canceled because of ———Heavy Torrential Rain Storms. We are going to try for December 8th..

    1. I can’t imagine having Christmas in summer, it’s always been cold, short dark days and twinkling lights for me. 🎅 ❄️

  6. I love these sorts of light installations that some cities put on. Ours isnt Christmas themed though because our winter is at the wrong time of year. Love mulled wine, one of the few things I like about winter.

    1. I’m the same, I’ve always been drawn to twinkling lights. Mulled wine is delicious and one of the highlights of Christmas. 😍

  7. I love Christmas too, and like you usually only from December. This is a lovely festive post, I’ve visited the botanic gardens in summer and can now visualise them painted in light. It reminded me of my press invite to the RHS Glow festival last year when I took a friend along with me. It took three attempts to record a short clip of a male voice choir and brass band as my friend kept speaking! I finally managed to get her quiet with the promise of some mulled wine and stollen and a good time was had by all!

    1. Ha ha, blogging is harder than people think. We really suffer for our art. 😂 I’m a sucker for a light show and when you throw in Santa, this event had my name all over it.

  8. This looks braw! So pretty.

    I admire your will power for turning down churros and mulled wine! I’m not sure you and I can be friends any more though haha (not really).

    I think your mum obviously needs assignments with you to get some more training in! Hilarious. I can sense your frustration though, I’d be the same.

    1. It’s a lovely event and appeals to all ages. I really swithered on the churros. It broke my heart to pass the stall but I ate my body weight in Chinese food afterwards so I’m glad I showed restraint. 😜

  9. I’m like you, no Christmas until 1st December but this really was a super blog with some great photos. Can’t make it this year so that was the next best thing 👍

    1. It was hard to stick to my rule with all that festival cheer around me. It’s a lovely event and even as a grown up, seeing Santa is exciting. 🎅🎄

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