You know the festive season is approaching when Kew Wakehurst’s site is illuminated in a whole host of stunning colour as Glow Wild returns
Forming a glistening haven in the heart of Sussex, Wakehurst’s enchanting winter lantern trail Glow Wild returns for 2022, opening on 24 November. The ninth edition promises a brand-new route through Kew’s wild botanic garden, with 11 bespoke installations and over 1,000 paper lanterns handmade by local volunteers all celebrating the incredible colour spectrum of the natural world. Winter wanderers are invited to consider the fundamental role of colour for all living things, discover the power of colour communication within the animal kingdom and explore the outer edges of colour perception.
From the moment visitors collect their colourful lantern to guide them through the encroaching dark, they embark on Glow Wild’s most colourful route to date, with each segment lit with different vibrant colours, bathed in a new soundscape from Brighton artists, Ithaca. The dark hues of succulent berries conjure up infra-red as the trail commences. Though invisible to the human eye, Wakehurst bats rely on infra-red waves and eagle-eyed adventurers may see their lantern figures languishing in trees above.
Maker and illustrator Kerith Ogden continues the exploration of the animal kingdom with his series of playful lantern sculptures inspired by the world of insects. Insects’ intriguing use of colour – as a warning, to attract a mate, or as camouflage – is reflected in the richly coloured creations of ladybirds, stag beetles, bees, green shield bugs and common blue butterflies. Shimmering blues will also adorn two new arrivals on the Glow Wild trail, with giant parading puppets Percy and Percie the Peacocks entertaining visitors at a pop-up refreshments stop, specially added on the trail to keep hunger and thirst at bay. Plus, Sussex metal sculptor Michelle Dufaur’s shimmering array of lantern birds celebrates the colourful plumes and feathers of native species.
As the route ventures into new ground for the first time, the trail draws attention to the power of the elements, with a bespoke installation from Glow Wild regulars, AndNow:, returning for their ninth year. Over 300 points of fire will transform the dark woodland path into a dancing fiery display accompanied by a specially commissioned soundscape. The movement of the flames will reflect across the surface of suspended water droplets above, inviting visitors to contemplate the breadth of the elemental spectrum. As the fires ebb away, a new installation from Same Sky forms overhead with clusters of cloud-shaped lanterns bringing calm sunset hues as they billow across the night sky interspersed delicate stars.
Moving away from the open woodland, AndNow: returns with a glimmering tunnel of greenery, inspired by botanicals, mosses and lichens. The fully immersive installation combines the colours and textures of these richly coloured organisms with sweet wood scented essential oils. Emerging from the cave-like depths, iridescent beetle lanterns enhanced by the amplified sounds of scurrying insects will accompany night-time explorers to a new 12m platform overlooking Wakehurst’s Westwood Valley, which forms the perfect viewpoint for an awe-inspiring projection from digital artists, Colour Project. A joyful exploration of the landscape through colour, the display will progress from the stark whites of winter woodlands to an explosion of kaleidoscopic waves, diffusing across the ravine like ink in water.
In a series of water-based installations, the gardens take on the soothing tones of blues and purples. UK Young Artist of the Year nominee, Malgorzata Lisiecka returns to Wakehurst following her popular summer installation, with a bespoke piece inspired by the mysterious atmosphere of Black Pond. Exploring structure and colour in nature, Lisiecka suspends, floats and submerges a mixture of luminous materials brought to life with UV light to conjure the hues and movement and algae, sea grasses and plankton. This spectacle of bioluminescence is also the inspiration for Same Sky’s collection of lanterns evoking anemones and other water-based life forms, all dancing over the still waters of the Bog Garden with an iridescent display of scintillating fronds.
As the trail draws to its end, a joyful explosion of colourful flora and fauna forms the Glow Wild finale. Light designers OGE Group transform Mansion Pond in Symphony of Light with flowers up to 4m wide floating on the surface, drawing passing butterflies towards their glowing display. The warm glow of 1,800 energy-saving bulbs adorning Wakehurst’s 37 metre giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), the UK’s tallest living Christmas tree, beckons visitors to nearby crackling firepits – the ideal place for friends and family to enjoy warming food and drink after their winter adventure.