Edinburgh is full of quiet, leafy spots you’d never believe are right in the heart of the city. Dean Village, the Water of Leith walkway, Stockbridge… and to add to these favourites, the Royal Botanic Garden. With 70 acres of alpines, woodland and shrubs, not to mention Britain’s tallest Victorian glasshouse, visiting the Botanics are a must if you’re a nature fan who’s somehow ended up living in the centre of town (I speak from experience).
Recently, we were lucky enough to attend one of Edinburgh’s main autumn events: the Botanic Lights. Along with a group of fellow Instagrammers, we joined the lines of people waiting to experience this light and sound show in the middle of the week. A pretty nice way to break up the long days at work, don’t you think?
I’m far from being a night-time photographer (those manual settings are a pest, haha…) but I’ve edited a few of my photos from that mild October evening in the gardens. The Botanic Lights event continues until the 6 November, so if you’ve got a free few hours and fancy some fresh air, there’s nothing better than a dark wander through the woods. Check out the availability here.
Shapes and shadows. As you’ll quickly discover when you enter the Botanics, the combination of light and leaves is completely mesmerising. Strobes swivel in several shades, beams catch on leaves and branches, and from the dark comes deep bass and exotic melodies. It makes you want to dance in and out of the inky trees (but you hold yourself back so the people behind don’t think you’ve gone mad).
A journey through time and trees. Each section of the light show — like the Botanics itself — has a clear character. From the incredible projection at the Chinese Hillside (do NOT miss this, even if there’s a queue!) to the African-themed display at the Pond, your wander through the gardens will feel like a journey across continents.
The iconic Botanics building. Even if you’ve never visited the gardens before, you’ll recognise this glasshouse. Officially dubbed the ‘Victorian Temperate Palm House‘, on an average day it’s the entrance to the ten climate zones which make up this maze of greenhouses. During the Botanic Lights though, it becomes the cinema screen for a rainbow of colours and phosphorescence. The whole solar system could be held within its raised glass roof, or perhaps it’s the light of a million fireflies stuck inside…
Leaving a memento. Along with the obvious theme of travel, the designers of Botanic Lights have incorporated an interactive element into many of the exhibits. There’s a strongman game which illuminates the pines; buttons you can press to make blue lights rainbow-coloured and — like a bright maypole in the dark grounds — flags onto which visitors are invited to attach a handwritten ribbon. We grab a few colours of fabric and scribble a Sharpie message before tying it onto the tree.
Into the night. There are so many amazing photo spots throughout Botanic Lights but this lane of lit globes was my favourite. With the litter of leaves lining the walkway and the odd orange frond falling from the adjacent trees, nothing says the Botanic Gardens in autumn more than this scene.