16 September 2020

How Glow Wild illuminates winter nights at Wakehurst

Our unmissable lantern trail brings Wakehurst to life at night.

Grace Brewer

By Grace Brewer

Circles of fire torches around trees at Wakehurst during Glow WIld

Wild winter trail

Our magical winter lantern trail through Wakehurst’s wild landscape is back.

A vibrant mixture of installations glow across our gardens, featuring work by new artists never seen before at Glow Wild.

This year, you'll find crackling cascades of fire reflected in our Mansion Pond, dancing dandelion seeds suspended over our Black Pond, elegant owls flying in our Pinetum, and fascinating fungi adorning our Winter Garden and Elizabethan Mansion.

Person touching white star lantern at Glow Wild
Star lanterns at Glow Wild, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

Warming food and drink 

Keep the chills at bay with some delicious food and drink at the start and end of your journey along the Glow Wild trail. 

Stop by the Stables Kitchen to enjoy an array of tempting dishes for the whole family, all freshly cooked to order.  

Outside, in the Carriage Ring, you will find tasty treats and hearty food-to-go served from our winter chalets. 

The festive fun continues at the giant glowing fire pits where you can grab a hot chocolate to enjoy under the stars accompanied by a toasted marshmallow or two.

Hot chocolate at Glow Wild
Hot chocolate at Glow Wild © Jeff Eden/RBG Kew

Look a little closer

The central theme of Glow Wild this year reflects on the smallest things which make the biggest impact.

Often hiding in plain sight, tiny heroes of the natural world underpin the processes behind everyday life.

Magnified beneath moonlight, the secrets of a grain of pollen, underground fungi, and a seed on the wind will be revealed.

The trail shines a light on the complex and spectacular web of nature in all its fantastical forms, including bees busily pollinating the wild flowers in our Asian Heath Garden.

Lanterns on Wakehurt's mansion pond at Glow Wild
Seed lanterns on Wakehurst's Mansion Pond at Glow Wild, John White © RBG Kew

Reflections on nature

The installations for Glow Wild are inspired by nature; Wakehurst’s 500 acres of wild woodland, plants, and wildlife.

The landscape is brought to life by a nocturnal soundscape and illuminated artworks of delicate seeds, flowers, fungi, and woodland creatures.

Take a moment to be present in nature, drinking in the beautiful intricacies woven through darkness.

Helping hands

Colourful lanterns adorning the trees and landscape are the very essence of Glow Wild.

Our teams of volunteers perform the huge task every year of preparing over 1,000 lanterns of different shapes and sizes that appear along the winter trail.

The lanterns are crafted from willow and paper. Making them is a delicate task, involving soaking the willow, bending it into shape, securing the structure and finally papering.

Our volunteers also help clean and repair ones from previous years to recycle and reuse as much as possible. 

Despite the challenges of this year, our volunteers have been attending lantern-making workshops hosted by Glow Wild artists and getting thoroughly stuck in at home to help deliver a magical evening for everyone.

Did you know our volunteers begin preparing as early as spring? The lanterns take more than 600 hours to prepare.

Paper covered, wicker lanterns in the shape of mushrooms
Fungi lanterns made by volunteers for Glow Wild © Sarah Hall-Baqai
Paper covered, wicker lantern in the shape of mushrooms
Fungi lantern made by a volunteer for Glow Wild © Sarah Hall-Baqai
Paper covered, wicker lanterns in the shape of mushrooms
Volunteer lantern making workshop for Glow Wild © Sarah Hall-Baqai
Wicker lanterns made by volunteers at home
Volunteer lantern making at home for Glow Wild © MJHodge

Working with our community

This year, we have partnered up with award-winning community arts charity, Same Sky, to host a lantern-making outreach programme. 

A handful of community groups have generously offered their time and skills to create another five stunning lanterns for our trail.

Join us for a winter wonder at Glow Wild and watch the magic unfold.

Orange fox and white owl lanterns made of paper and wire for Glow Wild
Same Sky fox and owl lanterns by Michelle Dufaur © Michelle Dufaur
The making of black and white, wire and paper badger lantern
The making of a Same Sky badger lantern by Michelle Dufaur © Michelle Dufaur
Dandelion seeds, majestic owl, star lanterns and the UK's tallest Christmas tree

Glow Wild 2020

Join us at Wakehurst on a spellbinding winter lantern trail for all ages.

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