The Botanics After Dark

It’s a very special feeling, entering Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens at night; a mix of being encouraged to do something out of the ordinary, plus the anticipation of an unusual sensory experience.

Hailed as Edinburgh’s newest festive event, Christmas at the Botanics unveils a series of beautiful light installations along a one-mile illuminated trail.

We (that is, the 7 year old and me) have both enjoyed our Botanic Lights experience of the previous two years, so we were waiting with interest to see how this year’s new Christmas lights would compare. We started our twilight meanderings – in perfect crisp, wintry weather – with high hopes.

The Crystal Lawn, made up of a thousand illuminated spheres, gently changing colour, was a magical introduction. We loitered here a while, whilst the 7 year old attempted to photograph every change of shade of the ‘lollipops’; he figured they were magic, something you’d find at the top of Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree.

He also liked the unexpectedness of the UV tunnel – nothing was happening as we approached a short avenue of what looked like big metal boxes, and then suddenly, we were surrounded by a sea of ‘bubbling bubbles’; we loitered here even longer.

Santa Claus’ cottage was a little bit of a letdown, probably due to our timing. We saw the big man’s rear end disappearing back inside and had a quick wave from an elf, but ‘we’ had no patience to wait to see  Santa reappear.

Instead, we marched on through the Choir of Trees – a wondland grove of nine singing conifers – and past the twinkling Beech Hedge, which was reminiscent of a golden waterfall. We stepped through dancing lights that swept the ground (great fun, except for those of us prone to dizziness – beware!) and were drawn, somewhat hypnotically towards the flickering flames of the Fire Garden.

It didn’t take us as long as we expected, probably around 4o minutes, but, of course, we could ahve delayed longer and sampled many of the edible delights available en route. And it was a lovely evening’s walk. Did it live up to our expectations? Maybe not quite, but I guess that’s down to personal preference. It’s probably fairest to say it was different to previous years (which is probably the point); rather than lavish and spectacular, it was beautiful and more restrained: Christmas lights rather than a light show. Overall, we’re very glad we went.

Christmas at the Botanics is after-dark family entertainment that runs for 29 nights (on selected dates) until Saturday 30th December.

Delivered in association with concerts and events promoter Raymond Gubbay.

Visitors are encouraged to book in advance to ensure their desired time slot. Tickets start from £14 per adult and £10 for children.

For more information, please visit

Fire Garden and Choir of the Trees courtesy of Wullie Marr Photography


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