Back for its eighth year, Glow Wild is an enchanting winter lantern trail full of winter wonder, record-breaking installations and home to the tallest living Christmas tree. This year's trail reflects on the beauty of nature that has blossomed during the pause of the past year. It reminds us to continue to tread lightly on the Earth, allowing nature to unfurl around us.
Ahead of the trail opening on Thursday 25th November, we spoke to Lantern Lead Charlotte Lawrence about what her role entails and what is going to make this year's event so special...
Can you tell us a little more about what goes on behind the scenes to prepare for Glow Wild and how long it takes to organise?
It is amazing, the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes at Wakehurst to bring the magic of Glow Wild every year!
As a Glow Wild Lantern Lead, I look after and coordinate the making of the lanterns, themselves. From organising the volunteers onsite, to checking materials and ensuring the essential tea and biscuits are on hand. I really love this job as, not only do I get to spend time being creative, but I also work with and get to know our wonderful team of volunteers and staff. We have a well-established team, as well as some people who dip in and out to help from time-to -time. We also host workshops and team building days for our staff and volunteers, as well as corporate partners. Everyone comes together as a community in some form or another, helping to repair lanterns from previous years or to make new ones.
In my team, we have our core lantern making volunteers, who each bring years of experience and skill. We begin working to repair our paper and willow lanterns from June. However, other Glow Wild staff are working behind the scenes all year round.
Hand-made lanterns are a feature of the trail, how many will there be this year?
On my last count there were over 650 individual lanterns that our staff and volunteers have worked on this year. But incredibly Glow Wild will have over 1000 in total! We’ve created and repaired over 20 different types, varying in shape and size. Every lantern we make is inspired by Wakehurst. From the petals of a snowdrop, and beautiful leaves, to nocturnal animals and unusual seed heads!
With each brand-new lantern taking many hours to make from scratch, it gives you an idea of the work that really does go on behind the scenes!
We work hard to use all natural materials wherever possible, with the skeletons made from willow and then covered in PVA and tissue paper.
There are some brilliant artists at this year’s event. Can you tell us a little bit more about them and who is your personal favourite?
I have to say I think all of the artists that we are working with are amazing in their own way. They all have incredible talent. embracing the Wakehurst landscape and collaborating, so the installations all work together as part of the trail.
If I were to pick one of my favourite parts for this year, I think I might say the fire on the Mansion Lawn. I love how atmospheric the fire is. The artists 'And Now' have worked with us on Glow Wild for since the event’s beginnings and each year they create something more spectacular. This year visitors will be really surprised!
There is also another new installation I am really excited to see this year, which is a collaboration of artists coming together to combine willow, lanterns, soundscapes and lighting to create ‘The tree for all seasons’ in the Pleasaunce.
What can visitors expect when they visit Glow Wild this year?
Without spoiling it, it is safe to say visitors can expect a combination of brand new installations, along with some firm favourites such as the giant moon and stars. The moon is our largest, heaviest and tallest lantern on the trail and is two and a half metres tall and two metres wide. It’s so big it takes a team of arborists to hoist it into the chosen tree each year!
I’m really excited to see the new installations this year, and in particular the narrative that is woven throughout the trail that explores the idea of the ‘anthropause’. The trail will gently reflect on nature and how it thrived during the pause of the past year, from animals taking over the gardens to giant fungi encroaching on the paths!
How has the trail evolved throughout the years?
Now in its eighth year, Glow Wild has evolved over time with new artists and installations making something different every year. Although, year on year, the soul of Glow Wild always remains. It really is an incredible community behind the scenes that makes it happen, and I love how every year the trail embraces the gardens in a new way and takes visitors on a different journey. This year it’s safe to say it won’t disappoint!
What makes Wakehurst the perfect place for Glow Wild?
In my eyes it’s the other way around. Wakehurst came before Glow Wild and is a trail that has evolved over the years with the gardens. It is homegrown, unique and embraces the wonders of the gardens, its stories and the incredible plants and fungi we have.
It’s such a unique trail that every year is designed around the landscape. It’s the little details of Glow Wild that make it so special, and it really wouldn’t work anywhere else!
Lantern photographs credit: Jim Holden
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