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Less Is More In The Traditional Heligan Night Garden 2020

The Heligan Night Garden

Heligan Gardens have been a main stay of Cornish Christmas treats in recent years; their evenings of yummy Christmas tastes and smells, local choirs and meeting up with old friends have created special memories for all ages. The act of digging out the wellies and wrapping ourselves up in scarves, hats and thick jumpers signified the beginning of the festive season for thousands of Heligan visitors. Add to this the high expectations of jaw dropping light displays throughout the woodland paths and gardens and you have the recipe for success. Year on year the Christmas light experience has been sensational, with Light Installation Artist Ulf Pedersen creating original and stunning displays, the experience has grown beyond our wildest dreams; let’s be honest – we have been thoroughly spoiled.

And so we reach December 2020, the closing month of a hideous year that we will all be relieved to leave behind us. Cornwall’s packed programme of annual events rapidly diminished to nothing as we went into lockdowns and now we find the country separated by tiers (and tears). Just as we began to think Christmas was cancelled a glimmer of light meant that Cornwall began to tentatively stick her head above the parapet and slowly move forward. Happily, Heligan is doing Christmas, albeit a pared down and socially distanced affair, with no choirs and no big gatherings in the restaurant over mulled wine and gorgeous cakes. Don’t panic! Braziers, roasted chestnuts, toasted marshmallows, hot chocolate and pre recorded carols are very much part of the event, but Christmas 2020 has a new look as the Heligan team had a rethink and scaled things back.

As someone who has enjoyed the annual expansion to bigger and better installations year on year, I was delighted to walk through the more simple garden display at the weekend. The pathways are lit with thousands of traditional lanterns, while trees and greenhouses shimmer with beautifully coloured lamps. The new Christmas installations will make the hearts of wildlife lovers jump for joy as stunningly crafted and illuminated creatures appear at different points along the way. Each creature has been created by The Liverpool Lantern Company and is lovingly positioned in a part of the garden where you might expect to find the animals in real life.

Although socially distanced, voices carry in the night garden and all the families within earshot were thrilled to discover the beautiful variety of animals and birds as they wandered along the paths. The final stretch of the night garden takes us past Flora’s Green where, in a beautiful gesture of hope for the future, we are treated to a splendid ‘crop’ of giant illuminated snowdrops that will bring a lump to your throat.

Congratulations to the whole team at Heligan who have proved less is more this year; with garden visitors once again appreciating the simple things in life. Long may it continue.


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