Christmas has arrived at the Royal Botanic Garden


Visitors to the gardens can watch festive light projections on the Glasshouse.


It may only be the first week of December, but the festivities in Edinburgh are well and truly underway and the Royal Botanic Garden has a brand new Christmas trail for visitors to enjoy.

Until the 29th of December, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is running a winter-themed trail with decorations, music and over a million lights called “Christmas at the Botanics”. This is the second year the Royal Botanic Garden has put on the event and there are similar trails all across the UK.

Emma Henderson from Culture Creative , the creative management company behind “Christmas at the Botanics”, mentioned some of the other trails around the country.

“Christmas at the Botanics is one of seven lit trails themed around Christmas which include Christmas at Kew, Christmas at Bleinheim Palace, Christmas at Dunham Massey, Christmas at Bedgebury, Christmas at Beaulieu and Christmas at London Zoo.”

“The first trail was at Kew Gardens six years ago and its success has led to other trails being added each year.”


Some of the one million lights on display at “Christmas at the Botanics”.

This year, the mile-long trail has several new additions, including contributions from both UK-based artists and artists from around the world.

“This year’s trail includes artworks by international and UK artists, live theatre and light projections onto the world-famous Glasshouse and Inverleith House,” said Emma.

“French lighting designers Tilt have two installations: “Lily of the Valley” and “Carbonium”. Mandylights from Australia, whose work has been shown previously at Vivid Festival in Sydney, has brought us ‘The Cathedral of Light.'”

Olivia Hill

The Cathedral of Light is one of the new attractions at the gardens this year.

The Cathedral of Light, a 70m-long tunnel with over 100,000 lights, provides quite a spectacle at the halfway point of the trail. Visitors should take their time to enjoy the stunning lights and accompanying Christmas carols: this is one of the prime picture taking areas.

There are also a number of new features this year for children to enjoy on their way around the gardens. Emma Henderson spoke about some of the options available for families to enjoy together.

“This year’s Santa Panto is themed around the gifts that conifer trees give us year-round. It’s presented by Connie Fir and Connor Fir, two Christmas elves who are Santa’s helpers. Our conifer trail is also new this year, which highlights six key specimens in the garden for adults and children to find.”


Festive decorations have been placed at different points around the garden.

Although the trail is outdoors and some may be sceptical to brave the Scottish weather on winter evenings, there are plenty of opportunities to buy hot food and drinks around the garden.

“Christmas at the Botanics is a family event created for everyone to enjoy. There are over a million twinkling lights, creamy hot chocolate, mulled wine and marshmallows, Christmas music, crackling fires and of course, Santa Clause. So wrap up warm and come enjoy the wonderful Christmas atmosphere and fun.”

You can find out more about “Christmas at the Botanics” and how to purchase tickets here.







Five great free places to visit in Edinburgh


The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh. Photo credit: Martin Moscosa/Flikr

The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh. Photo courtesy of Martin Moscosa/Flickr

1. The Museum of Childhood

Hiding right in plain sight on the High Street, is the Museum of Childhood. As the first museum in the world dedicated to childhood, it hosts a collection of games and toys from across the generations. It is currently displaying the exhibition 26 Children’s Winters. 26 writers have been asked to write words on certain objects describing what emotions they evoke. Whether you’re a family or just someone looking for a bit of a nostalgia trip, the Museum of Childhood is sure to make for a fun filled afternoon.

The Scottish National Museum of Modern Art, photo credit: Spencer Means/Flikr

The Scottish National Museum of Modern Art.  Photo courtesy of Spencer Means/Flickr

2. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

There are plenty of art galleries in Edinburgh. With so many situated within walking distance of Waverley Station, it is easy to understand why some are overlooked. However if you have enough time to go a little further into Edinburgh, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is a must see.  With plenty of displays including Pop Art, Cubism and the spectacular Artist Rooms: Roy Lichtenstein, it is definitely worth the cost of the bus fare to visit.

Something you might see at the Anatomical Museum, photo credit: University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences/Flikr

Something you might see at the Anatomical Museum. Photo courtesy of University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences/Flickr

3. The Anatomical Museum

Definitely one of the weirder experiences Edinburgh has to offer, The Anatomical Museum plays host to many interesting exhibits. Some of its more famous displays include a display about Edinburgh grave robbers Burke and Hare, and an impressive collection of life and death masks. Sadly it is only open on the last Saturday of the month so make sure you give it a visit when it is open!

The Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill, photo credit: Karen Bryan/Flikr

The Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill. Photo courtesy of Karen Bryan/Flickr

4. The Royal Observatory

Located up on Blackford Hill, The Royal Observatory is a great place to visit if you don’t fancy a night time trawl through the pubs. Their weekly winter Public Astronomy meetings are a highly entertaining way to spend the night, with stunning views of the capital and the clear night sky. Only thing is they do sell out fast, so it’s best to book in advance.

Dubar's Close Garden, photo credit: Nigel's Europe & beyond/Flikr

Dunbar’s Close Garden. Photo courtesy of Nigel’s Europe & beyond/Flickr

5. Dunbar’s Close Garden

So maybe you don’t have time to do much in Edinburgh. Maybe you have to stay close to Waverley Station. Well don’t worry a hidden gem is within walking distance. Behind one of the many closes on the High Street, just a few blocks down from the Museum of Childhood, is the beautiful Dunbar’s Close Garden. Laid out in the style of a 17th century garden, it provides a breath of fresh air, for those looking for a quick escape from the bustle of the city. Surrounded by the architecture of the Old town, this living time capsule is definitely a sight to behold.

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