What better way to lift our spirits on a dark, damp evening than with a visit to the RHS Garden Harlow Carr to view their Glow Illuminations.
It’s the first year that lights have been installed in the gardens, and as we have visited Harlow Carr on numerous occasions in daylight we were eager to view the landscape after dusk. The gardens are located in Beckwithshaw on the outskirts of Harrogate, North Yorkshire and have ample free parking.
Before leaving the car, we wrapped up warm with hats, scarves and gloves and made our way over to the visitor centre with its welcoming twinkling lights and beautifully decorated Christmas tree helping us to get into the festive spirit.
Over in one corner, the Thurnscoe Male Voice Choir were performing and we almost forgot that we had come to follow the Glow trail as we stood for quite some time listening to their uplifting, festive music.
Stepping outdoors, the gardens were a winter wonderland of colour. One of the guides told us that it had taken a team of six people an entire week to assemble the 400 LED light fittings using 4,100 metres of cable. As we walked along the trail, the perfectly positioned Illuminations made the most of the natural features, highlighting specific trees and shrubs and painting them with light.
The garden borders and winter walk have been transformed into an enchanting display, bringing a touch of magic to this most northerly of RHS gardens. Around the Queen Mother Lake, cleverly placed lights produce stunning reflections on the water with views across to the main buildings.
Mid way around the trail, we warmed up with mugs of mulled wine and overindulged on mince pies and Christmas cake in the Betty’s Cafe and Tearooms pavilion. This cosy setting provided us with even more festive cheer and a chance to sit and relax before completing our evening stroll.
There were even more stunning lighting effects to admire alongside the stream side sculpture trail from where we had some splendid views looking back towards the visitor centre. The illuminations showcase the structure of the gardens after dark, adding a new dimension to Harlow Carr in the run up to Christmas.
Before returning home we took a look in the RHS gift shop where we found much to tempt us as Christmas approaches. Beyond the gift shop there is a large plant centre which seemed to stock everything for the garden enthusiast whatever the time of year.
Visiting Glow was an absolute delight and a real opportunity to see Harlow Carr in a different light! If you might also be interested in seeing the Glow winter illuminations they are taking place each weekend (Thursday to Saturday) between 23rd November and 30th December 2017, with a reduced garden admission price of £8 (RHS members free of charge) after 3.00 p.m. Last admission to the gardens is one hour before closure at 7.00 p.m.
For those interested in RHS membership then more information is available here. This is well worth considering if you plan to return to Harlow Carr, or visit one of the other three RHS gardens throughout the year. Free entry is available to a family guest with a member, so the card can in fact pay for itself in just two visits, and more importantly allow you to enjoy the gardens and special events year round.
I would like to thank the team at RHS Harlow Carr for inviting me to attend their Winter Glow preview evening. As always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.
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