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What is Christmas at the Botanics?

A brand new after-dark illuminated trail through a festive Garden

Firmly established as unmissable within Scotland’s winter calendar, over a million twinkling lights and seasonal sounds will fill the air with festive fun at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. Look forward to some time together with friends and family as you discover sparkling tunnels of light and dancing lakeside reflections, then walk under giant baubles and beneath glistening trees drenched in jewel-like colour. For a moment of reflection pause at mesmerising flickering flames in the fire garden, gaze at the larger-than-life illuminations and, to make a moment to remember, don’t forget to glimpse Father Christmas along the way.

Our crew of talented independent street food vendors bring a delicious twist to tempting treats on offer. Complete your walk under the stars with a perfectly festive *spiced winter warmer, *hot chocolate or *toasted marshmallows shared with someone special.

Your very merriest Christmas starts here. Limited capacity with timed entry. Plan now to secure the date and time of your choice.

*separate charges apply

What are the dates of Christmas at the Botanics?

Thursday 17th November - Sunday 20th November
Wednesday 23rd November - Sunday 27th November
Wednesday 30th November - Sunday 4th December
Wednesday 7th December - Saturday 24th December
Monday 26th December - Friday 30th December

What are the trail times?

4:15pm*, 4:30pm*, 4:45pm, 5:00pm, 5:15pm, 5:30pm, 5:45pm, 6:00pm, 6:15pm, 6:30pm, 6:45pm, 7:00pm, 7:15pm, 7:30pm, 7:45pm, 8:00pm

* Not available for every date

Where is Christmas at the Botanics and how do I get there?

There are two entrances at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh:

East Gate Address: Royal Botanic Garden, East Gate, Inverleith Row, EH3 5LP

West Gate Address: Royal Botanic Garden, West Gate, Arboretum Place, EH3 5NZ

On foot: The Garden is just one mile north of Princes Street. The West Gate located on Arboretum Place can be accessed via Stockbridge and the East Gate is located on Inverleith Row.

By train: The nearest station is Waverley Station which is 1.5 miles from the Garden.

By bus: The Garden's East Gate is served by Lothian Buses 8, 23 and 27 from the City Centre and the West Gate (John Hope Gateway) is served by Lothian Buses 29, 42 and 24 via Stockbridge.

By car: If you are arriving by car, entry is via the West Gate (John Hope Gateway) where there is ample on-street parking available.

Who is Christmas at the Botanics suitable for?

Christmas at the Botanics is suitable for all ages and aims to provide best possible access to everyone in order that they enjoy their visit.

Should I arrive in advance of my ticketed time slot?

We would advise arriving at the start of the trail 5 minutes before you are due to begin the trail. If you arrive at the venue earlier, please wait in your car.

I am visiting the Garden during the day, do I need to leave the site before entering Christmas at the Botanics in the evening?

Yes if you are visiting the Garden during the day, visitors will need to leave the Garden before entering for Christmas at the Botanics. This is to ensure that only ticket holders for Christmas at the Botanics have entry to the evening. Visitors are welcome to dwell in the John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre after the Garden has closed and before Christmas at the Botanics opens.

Can we see Father Christmas?

At this time of year, Father Christmas is extremely busy so is unable to meet children individually, however be sure to look out for him as he will be on the trail this Christmas!

Will there be strobe lighting?

There will be lighting sequences created within the landscape lighting design that will have some flashing lights contained within them. There will also be a low voltage laser garden made of thousands of constantly moving green laser beams. All laser units have an output of < 1mW and flash rates of less than 2Hz which are momentary. Therefore all the lighting effects in the garden work to guidelines on photosensitive epilepsy and adhere to the industry standard of synchronising effects and locking sequences, to ensure that none of the lights operate at more than 5 flashes per second.

What should I wear?

Christmas at the Botanics takes place outdoors and you may need to queue outside on busy days. Please wear appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear for winter weather. We reserve the right to refuse inappropriately clothed patrons access to the trail if it is felt they are open to a greater risk of injury.

Where can I buy tickets from?

You can buy tickets for Christmas at the Botanics online here.

Do I have to book in advance?

We recommend that you book early to avoid disappointment. Each timed entry has a limited capacity and the early evening and weekend slots are likely to sell out.

What are the prices for Christmas at the Botanics?

Non-Member Pricing Advance On The Day
Adult Trail Entry Only £21.50 £23.50
Carer Trail Entry Only £0.00 £0.00
Child (4-16 Years) Trail Entry Only £15.00 £17.00
Infant (0-3 Years) Trail Entry Only £0.00 £0.00
Family Trail Entry Only £70.00 £78.00

Can I buy additional tickets?

If you would like to add additional tickets to your order, subject to availability, you can do so by logging in to your order under the Customer Service tab. You will need to have your order reference number to hand.

Do I need to buy a car parking ticket to park at Christmas at the Botanics?

There are no parking facilities onsite at the Botanics but there is ample parking around the periphery of the Garden. Please use metered parking bays on Arboretum Road, Arboretum Place, Inverleith Place, Inverleith Terrace, East Fettes Avenue, Carrington Road and Fettes Avenue (free after 5:30pm). Resident permit bays should be avoided. There is no parking next to the East Gate.

As I am a member , do I still need to pay for Christmas at the Botanics?

Members will receive £3.00 off their admission ticket for Christmas at the Botanics when purchased in advance.

How do I apply my RBGE member’s discount to my tickets?

Members of RBGE are eligible to a £3.00 discount to adult tickets booked in advance. To access this please enter your discount code when choosing the number of tickets in the box near the top of the page. The discount code is found on the Christmas at the Botanics section of your Botanics magazine or in the member’s e-newsletter.

Is there a dedicated drop-off & pick-up area?

At the West Gate/John Hope Gateway there is an area which can be used for drop-off, but it is not dedicated.

How can I organise a group visit and is there a group rate?

There is a group rate of 10% off groups of 10+ adults. Please email See Tickets Groups: groups@seetickets.com

Group discounts are not available to book online and apply to adult tickets only.

All customers are reminded to be aware of the latest government legislation when visiting the light trail. Please be mindful that legislation may change between time of booking and day of visit.

How/when will I receive my tickets?

Your E-Tickets can be downloaded via the link within your confirmation email, or alternatively, by logging into your order via the Customer Service tab.

I bought tickets but have not received a confirmation email. What should I do?

Please check your Junk / Spam folders as sometimes the confirmation email falls into these folders. If you still have not received your confirmation email, you can resend your confirmation email to yourself here

If I am unable to print my E-Tickets or display my tickets on a phone, what should I do?

If you are unable to print your E-Tickets or if you are unable to display your tickets on your phone please use the Chat Bot located in the bottom right corner of your screen and explain that you are unable to print your E-Tickets off.

How can I contact See Tickets?

For ticketing enquiries, please visit the Customer Service tab here and type in your order reference number, followed by either your post code, phone number or last 4 digits of your payment card. Once complete, please click on 'Find Order' and scroll to the 'Contact Us' section at the bottom of the page. Here you can provide brief details of your enquiry and See Tickets will get back to you.

For all other enquiries, please refer to the FAQs or use the Chat Bot facility in the bottom right corner of your screen

I purchased TicketPlan, can I have a refund?

The refund protection selected at the point of purchase is a personal cover designed to cover yourself and your designated party against an unforeseen circumstance that prevents you attending the trail you have booked for. If you want to submit a claim, please fill in TicketPlan's online application form which can be found here

We will then liaise with TicketPlan to provide them with any information they may require regarding the details of your booking. Please note that you are only covered in certain circumstances and we do not guarantee that you will receive a refund from TicketPlan. If you wish to claim a refund for part of an order, that is not a problem, please fill out the application form accordingly. The full terms and conditions of the cover can be found here.

If you have any questions before submitting your claim, please contact TicketPlan here.

Which Gate should I purchase for Christmas at the Botanics?

If you are arriving by car, taxi or coach, you should purchase for the West Gate (John Hope Gateway) on Arboretum Place (EH3 5NZ), where there is more street parking available. If you are arriving by public transport or on foot you should purchase for the East Gate where the entrance is on Inverleith Row (EH3 5LP).

How long is the trail?

It will take approximately 90 minutes to walk the trail.

Are dogs allowed on the trail?

Assistance Dogs which are highly trained are welcomed at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Pet dogs and other animals are not allowed.

Is the trail dark or covered?

In some areas the lighting will be low level as this is part of the experience. We do encourage visitors to bring along a torch in case of an emergency - this should not be used unless it is necessary.

The trail is not covered and all visitors are reminded that this is an outdoor illuminated trail and the weather may be inclement. Please wear appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear for winter.

We reserve the right to refuse inappropriately clothed patrons access to the walk, if it is felt they are open to greater risk of injury.

If I am delayed and miss my slot, can I join a later slot?

We will try and accommodate you on the next available slot within the trail operational hours on the day. Please ensure you leave enough time for your journey if you are travelling a long way.

What are the last entry times?

The last entry time onto the trail is at 8:15pm* with the illuminated trail closing at 10pm*.

*Subject to change, see website for details.

What time does the illuminated trail finish?

All customers must exit the trail by no later than 2 hours after the last trail start time and in all cases by 10:00pm.

Can I bring my drone?

Drones are not permitted.

Can I take photographs?

Yes, you are welcome to take photographs and to share these on social media with the hashtag #ChristmasAtTheBotanics. You can also follow the developments across our Christmas Trails via 'My Christmas Trails' on Facebook and Instagram.

What provision do you have for disabled guests?

The trail will be created to be as accessible as possible within the context of the natural site of The Botanics. The route is all on hard-standing, flat paths and alternative routes will be provided should they be required for customers with mobility issues.

Accessible toilets are available at the West Gate entrance, East Gate entrance and at the Terrace cafe.

Do you have disabled parking?

Yes, we have six blue badge parking spaces for disabled people to the left of the West Gate entrance and a further three spaces opposite to the left of the Inverleith Park Gate. Blue Badge holders can park in metered bays for free if displaying their badge.

Is the trail accessible for wheelchair users?

The trail is approximately one mile in length. The route is designed so that it can be viewed solely from tarmac paths and hard standing paths as in previous years.

If weather conditions mean that the trail is not fully accessible for people using wheeled mobility aids, consideration will be made on a case by case basis to allow tickets to be transferred to an alternative date when the ground conditions are more appropriate.

Can I bring my mobility scooter or can mobility scooters be provided?

Yes you can bring your own mobility scooter and the John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre has eight motorised scooters and three wheelchairs for visitors but these must be booked in advance and please note that the demand is always high. The easiest way to book a mobility scooter is by clicking here, call 0131 248 2909 or email visitorwelcome@rbge.org.uk

Am I eligible for a free carer's ticket?

A disabled person purchasing ticket may bring one essential carer companion free of charge.

I need more than one carer, what should I do?

If you require more than one carer, please visit Customer Service here. You will need your Booking Reference Number at hand.

Is there a 'quieter access' session?

Yes. These sessions are for adults and young people who would love to experience Christmas at the Botanics without the usual high volumes of people. The sessions will begin at twilight before the illuminated trail opens to the public, making the transition into the dark much easier. For Christmas at the Botanics 2021, this will be held on Wednesday 7th December.

The capacity of these sessions will be limited to ensure that the trail remains less crowded and more relaxed.

It should be noted that on many of our trails the path network is not tarmac, and although there are stewards along the route to assist you, the trail will follow the natural contours of the landscape and paths can be steep at times.

Visitors are welcome to bring mobility scooters and wheelchairs and there are some for hire at the Garden (see section above).  Please note that the trail may not be suitable for all aids, particularly in adverse weather conditions.  Stewards will assist where possible but this cannot be guaranteed.

Ticket prices for our quieter sessions are consistent with the rest of the illuminated trail, with carers entering for free. When booking, please talk to our staff about any additional support you may need for exiting the illuminated trail through quieter areas or help with parking closer to the start of the trail.

To book these sessions please use this link here

Can I purchase food and drink on site?

There will be a number of seasonal food and drink chalets serving hot, hand-held food, catering also for younger visitors and certain dietary needs. Hot drinks will also be on offer. Visitors can also toast marshmallows at one of our purpose-built fire pits.

What shopping facilities are there?

The Botanics Shop is situated in the West Gate Entrance and will be open during Christmas at the Botanics until 10pm.

What will happen if the weather is bad? Will the trail be cancelled?

Christmas at the Botanics is an outdoor illuminated trail. If the weather presents a hazard and a risk to safety, any decision to cancel the illuminated trail will be taken by 2pm on the day of the illuminated trail. You will be notified by email and text message and you will be informed of the re-booking process. We advise you to check the website for the latest updates and before you travel.

No refunds will be offered simply if the weather is inclement.

If I am unable to attend on a different day, can I get a refund?

If the illuminated trail is cancelled in line with the cancellation policy and ticket holders are not able to attend an alternative night offered, then a refund will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Where a refund is due, the ticket must be returned within 28 days following the illuminated trail date. We can also offer a voucher for the following year. The transaction fee is not refundable under any circumstances.

I have booked for the wrong day - can I transfer over to another day?

Yes, please log into your order via the Customer Service tab in order to exchange your tickets for another date, subject to availability.

Trail partners will be working together to make improvements to sustainability and reduce the ecological impact of the trails – more information will be shared here as trail plans are developed.