Just a quick post this week – I don’t know if you noticed, but it’s December, which has rather snuck up on me, despite my so looking forward to it…so I have umm, one or two things on my ‘to do’ list!
However, I REALLY wanted to take a minute amidst the mulled wine and greenery to write about how we kicked off the holiday season this year with a trip to The Eden Project – Cornwall, to see their spectacular Shadows and Light Christmas Experience, and how we couldn’t possibly have started Christmas with anything more wonderfully festive!
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We are fortunate enough to live in the South-West of England, and so regularly visit the Eden Project.
The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future.
It is a truly spectacular place, and an absolute must see if you find yourself in these parts. (Psssst! If you live in Devon or Cornwall you can even buy a locals’ pass at certain times – locals’ passes are cheaper than a standard one-time entry ticket AND give you unlimited access until Oct 31st – so if you get one early enough you can get in for a whole year!!)
The first time we visited was when it was in its infancy and we have been lucky enough to literally watch a rainforest grow! Still every time we come to the Eden Project I am wowed anew at the scope and magnitude of this place and the thought and work that has gone into every aspect of design here. We recently bought a copy of Eden Project founder Tim Smit’s book, ‘Eden’ which as well as making us look again at this incredible venture with fresh eyes, has inspired us in other ways. If ever there was a book to encourage you to dream big, this is it!
Come to the Eden project at any time of year and there are new things to see. We try and get down here seasonally (locals’ pass, whoop!) and it’s wonderful to see the changes that occur throughout the year, but seeing it in winter time is truly something else.
We arrived at about 4 pm, and the light was already fading. Plenty of people were leaving, having undoubtedly spent a wonderful day exploring all that Eden has to offer, but for me, there is something about seeing the enormous geodesic Biomes in the dark which is a whole new level of breathtaking, and for winter visits I would wholeheartedly recommend leaving your trip until a bit later!
Walking around the Biomes which had previously felt familiar to me seems otherworldly and surreal under cover of darkness. The usual sticky heat of the Rainforest Biome replaced with a cool humidity, the lights dancing on the plants lending everything an alien luminance which feels like stepping into a fairy tale (a suspicion which was confirmed by a visit to the Malaysian hut where the children were delighted to ask a real-life fairy the important question “Can your wings change colour for special occasions?”). The atmospheric haze and lights alter as you walk around the different zones, in reaction to the tropical weather patterns, and the curved ceiling is alive with multicoloured stars. Everywhere I look is unrecognisable from other times I have visited, but no less stunning!
The Mediterranean Biome glitters and dances in a glorious laser light display, complete with ethereal sounds and music. It feels like being on another planet!
I could have stayed here for hours, but we had booked to see Father Christmas, and he must not be kept waiting at this busy time of year, so off we trundle to his Eden Project base camp, taking in an interactive light display on the way and pausing to watch the lights ripple and flicker across the gardens.
The Big Chap’s Eden Project base camp is a giant yurt complete with roaring log fire, where he and his elves have set up a splendid encampment and set the scene for a wonderful Christmas. With storytelling, songs, jokes and plenty to see, this is one of the best Santa experiences we have been to, and I particularly liked that Father Christmas himself takes the focus off the material, by asking not what the children WANT for Christmas, but what is the best thing about Christmas. I was very happy to hear my own kids answer:
“Time with family”
Thing 1 and Thing 2 were each given a snowflake trinket, imbued with North Pole magic, which will apparently help them get to sleep on Christmas Eve – here’s hoping….
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All in all, this was an absolutely amazing start to our Christmas and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a wintertime visit here. Frankly, the gift shop alone is worth the trip, an Aladdin’s cave of ethical and beautiful Christmas present ideas! Inspired by all the decorations and paper chains festooning the place made from old Eden project leaflets, we came straight home and made some of our own. Now suitably bedecked in recycling papercrafts, the house is looking lovely and I am bursting with Yuletide cheer and ready to party!
How did you kick off the festive season this year?