GLOW WILD at Kew Wakehurst marks ten fabulous years

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GLOW WILD at Kew Wakehurst can look back on a fabulous story of success as it marks its first ten years.

Promising an “awe-inspiring anniversary trail celebrating the power of community and collaboration,” it has grown significantly over the years but has always retained its identity, absolutely rooted in the venue itself while also celebrating togetherness.

GLOW WILD producer Louise Burton said: “It still feels very, very special and we have just been building and building over the years. Ten years ago we had four nights and maybe just a few thousand people but now it is 31 nights all over Christmas and maybe 90,000 people. It feels really significant. It has a very unique feel to it. When we started it was like starting a new genre. Light trails were just starting and there are lots of them that have sprung up all over the country since then but we were there at the start and we feel that we have still retained that special feel that we had. The underlayer, the backbone of the whole thing, is all these beautiful handmade lanterns that we have, and we really put together them with heart and soul and a lot of care. And I do think that comes across to the visitors. They can really feel the heart in it all.

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“The lantern making stars on January 2, refurbishing lanterns and making lots of new ones. We've got more than a thousand and so we're coming up with new designs but it's always rooted in the landscape that we've have here. The lanterns that we have are born in the landscape. And then layering up from the lanterns we have the artworks. There is an expectation from the public because we've been spoiled by technology so sitting on top of the soft underlayer of the lanterns we have some really striking pieces of art that have been inspired by the landscape. The brief this year was awe and wonder in nature, all about the fact that everything we do at Wakehurst is rooted in nature. The brief went out to artists who all responded accordingly and they came back with their very special bespoke response to the idea. The whole thing is all about community and all about experiencing something collectively. That in itself is a cause of awe and wonder. When we experience something as a family and as a community then it is something that bonds us together. Our experience that we have in making the lanterns and with the groups that we work with and then when the visitors come along all really brings everyone together. It's about showcasing the landscape and being able to walk through this beautiful botanic garden and just really to experience it in a different way at night in winter when we would usually be closed.

Glow Wild at Wakehurst, Jeff Eden (c) RBG KewGlow Wild at Wakehurst, Jeff Eden (c) RBG Kew
Glow Wild at Wakehurst, Jeff Eden (c) RBG Kew

“It is not overtly about Christmas but we do have the UK's largest Christmas tree and there is definitely a festive feel to the whole thing and it's a really lovely way to finish off the year. It gives the venue momentum going into the following year: And we always have such a lovely split of people who are regulars here and people who have never been here before.” Visitor numbers are definitely buoyant post-pandemic: “We are definitely on the up.”

Entry time slots every 20 mins between 4.30-8.20pm Nov 23-26, Nov 30-Dec 3, Dec 6-10, Dec 12-23 and Dec 27-Jan 1.