Wakehurst’s Glow Wild celebrates 10 years of immersive light trails
Glow Wild, the immersive lantern trail at Wakehurst is back for the tenth year with a hefty dose of luminous magic and a brand-new trail that takes you deeper into the heart of the wild botanic garden. Just what we need to brighten up our dark and dreary nights!
This year’s theme invites visitors to reflect on the awe-inspiring moments in the natural world – from epic examples of wildlife to delicate details of plants and fungi. In true Glow Wild tradition, over 1000 lanterns are handmade by local volunteers and community groups, with the tenth anniversary mile- long trail also boasting eight brand new bespoke installations from leading artists.
As soon as the sun goes down, Wakehurst’s botanical gardens and woodlands – part of the Kew Gardens family – come to life. And there is so much to see, we’d need to write a dissertation to tell you all about it, so we’ve just included some of the highlights below.
This year, the Glow Wild trail is all about the celebration of colour in nature, the shimmering blues, the rich greens, the vibrant reds. It features eight new installations along the mile-long trail, including giant illuminated parading peacock puppets and an immersive glimmering green tunnel that will envelop visitors in the textures, sounds and smells of moss and lichen with wood-scented essential oils.
The mysterious Black Pond will be transformed into a display of huge four-metre-wide bioluminescent plants (the magic of luminous materials and UV light!) by artist Malgorzata Lisiecka and maker and illustrator Keith Ogden has created intricate lanterns to bring the spectrum of insects and mini-beasts to life.
What else? Lantern-making supremos Same Sky (the people that are behind the brilliant Burning The Clocks) have also created some incredible pieces for the event, including a magical aviary featuring UK native birds and sunset-kissed clouds hanging over woodland plants.
And there’s so much more to see, not least a display of 300-strong flaming torches dancing across a dark woodland path to a specially commissioned soundscape. And local volunteers have handcrafted over 1,000 glowing paper lanterns to celebrate the incredible panoply of colour found in the natural world.
Need more? Wakehurst is also home to the UK’s tallest living Christmas tree, which comes in at a whopping 37 metres and is festooned in an incredible 1,800 energy-saving bulbs. There are firepits all around the tree to warm your cockles and where you can enjoy some festive food and drink at the end of the trail.
And this year, they’ve also launched adults-only sessions on Fridays at 8pm, so you can wander and wonder more quietly with friends or a date. Even if you don’t have a car, it’s a short train ride to Haywards Heath and they put on a shuttle bus from the station for £6.10 (for adults).
The gardens are beautiful at the best of times, but Glow Wild makes them truly magical and this year’s trail looks better than ever. But, as ever, you need to see it in person, photos (these are ours from the opening night) and simulations can never quite do it justice.
Select evenings from Thursday 24th November 2023 – Monday 1st January 2024; entry slots between 4.30pm and 10pm (last entry at 8.20pm); from £11 (child) and £14 (adult)
Wakehurst Visitor Centre, Ardingly, Haywards Heath, RH17 6TN
Photo credits: RBG Kew; Jeff Eden; Visual Air