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December 20, 2018

Christmas at Kew

by Carla Juniper

As someone working on the Signify account at Point 6, I’m part of a team creating communications about intelligent lighting projects on a daily basis. Lights are no longer just for illuminating spaces; when connected and embedded with sensors they can now be a powerful tool for data and insight.

We work with ‘traditional’ lighting products too, for example the Vari-Lite and Strand entertainment lighting brands, so we understand how lighting can make or break a stage performance.

My recent visit to Kew Gardens reminded me that light itself can be the performance – let me take you on my journey!

Kew Gardens knows how to celebrate with light. Every Christmas, the royal park is transformed with new commissions of light and sound, from a variety of international lighting designers. The trail begins with the staggering Field of Light by Ithaca Studio. Over 100m of lights, twinkling in time to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, it appears to stretch away endlessly.

Next, you find yourself walking through Mandylights’ Laser Garden, an assault on the senses in the dark, with thousands of rotating beams of light piercing the night sky, illuminating visitors and the woodland trees all at once.

My personal favourite part of the trail was Voyage, by Italian artists Asther & Hemera. As you cross Kew’s glistening lake, you’re met with the captivating sight of 300 illuminated origami boats floating on the water. The boats reflected in the sea of black look like stars in the night sky, floating peacefully in space.

As the trail continues, you’re led through the Cathedral of Light, also by Asther & Hemera. Towering overhead at 7m tall and 100m in length it’s the longest tunnel of lights ever seen at Kew.

The atmosphere continues with a warm flickering Fire Garden, where the star installations made from candles are reflected by the surrounding leaves… no doubt all part of the clever plan from the botanical geniuses of Kew!

I’d heard of Christmas at Kew’s show-stopping finale and it did not disappoint. The iconic Palm House was transformed by an explosion of colour, mirrored in the black pond beside it. Beams and jumping jets of light were the backdrops to kaleidoscopic projections playing across a giant water screen. A stunning show… made singalong perfect by Let It Go from Disney’s Frozen.

One of my favourite things about Christmas at Kew however, was not the ‘all-singing and dancing’ installations, but the gardens themselves. The natural beauty of Kew’s magnificent trees subtly lit from beneath or decked with lights, so their forms take on ghostly artistry, was just perfect.

Christmas at Kew is hugely popular, runs until Saturday, January 5, 2019, and is unfortunately now sold out. I’ll be booking early for next year – so if like me, you love the magic of light mixed with the beauty of nature I recommend that you do too!

Related Links

https://www.kew.org
http://ithaca.studio
http://www.mandylights.com
http://www.aether-hemera.com

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