Christmas at the Botanic Gardens

Edinburgh is full of lovely winter and Christmas activities. Yesterday we visited the Royal Botanic Gardens to see their outdoor after-dark light trail that wound around the gardens. We booked our tickets for the first show in the eveing, at 4:40 pm, in advance and got their a bit early. ‘Tis the Finnish way.

Darkness falls in Edinburgh early this time of year so by the time we got in it was already fully dark. All the better to enjoy the light shows. We hadn’t been to the Botanical Gardens before so we were initially a little worried that we might get lost. But we needn’t fret, the paths that we shouldn’t go on were blocked off and most intersections had friendly blokes standing in high-vis vests, waving us in the right direction.

There were little booths selling mulled wine, festive food, and even marshmallows with a nearby fire pit to roast them in. We walked past the marshmallow shop to see the Fire Garden, with live flames (safely behind a fence) dancing in circles around two twinkly towers topped with ornaments.

Along the way, trees with branches bare of leaves were lit in reds and greens, and part of the path was decorated with a string of small lights. It never really got too dark, as we could always see where we were going.

We had our mulled wine when we stopped to admire the light show at the main greenhouse. The greenhouse facade blazed with color and light to the tune of a snippet from Tchaikovsky’s Walz of the Flowers. It was a cold night but with the walking and even standing and drinking the mulled wine, we kept warm enough.

One of our favorite things was Chrystal Lawn, which I couldn’t take a good photo of. It’s hard to describe. We walked through an area surrounded on both sides by little globes of light that which lit up in different colors, while making a soft twinkly sort of sound at each light or color change. To my ear it sounded vaguely Chinese. The sounds weren’t too loud, so even when the sequence built to a wild crescendo it was still pleasant. One of the music bits was a melancholy version of Three Blind Mice.

Another favorite was a soap bubble rain. The path had tall towers on both sides that released thousands of soap bubbles in the air which then descended on our upturned faces. The kids were beside themselves. The tune was “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”, played in a bubble-kind of sounds (can’t really explain it).

We could hear it even when we had passed by and were amidst the Choir of Trees, which was a path that had trees with wound up strings of colors going up their trunks and music from hidden speakers. Lets just say the two pieces of music clashed delightfully.

We finished our visit, quite pleased, with a toasted marshmallow. The last time was on my 3-day Uluru tour over a year ago. I was due.


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