Splash of spectacle and sparkle

Cinderella’s carriage… a highlight of this year’s Trail of Lights spectacle at Durban’s Botanic Gardens.

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Display: Trail of Lights – Botanic Gardens, Durban
REVIEW  BY BILLY SUTER
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IF YOU do nothing else with children this festive season, make sure you treat them to a visit to Durban’s Botanic Gardens for the second annual Trail of Lights, a spectacular display of festive lighting that is ideal family fun for the holiday season.

Tickets are only R50 a head online and it is real value for money – and profits go to various charities.

Early evening at the Trail of Lights in Durban.

The Trail of Lights involves the city’s historic Botanic Gardens being illuminated with thousands of coloured lights, as well as special costumed characters and features such as Santa in his Sleigh, a large Talking Tree, an ice-blue castle, a fairy nook and the like.

An initiative in support of various charities, the event was a great success last year, so the organisers have decided to extend the run for 2018. The Trail of Lights opened on December 14 and will be available from 6.30pm to 9.30pm nightly, until December 30.

Besides a number of illuminated attractions – including many rows of tree trunks in different sparkling hues, angels, swans, giant paper butterflies, candy canes with bows and signs; signs saying Joy, Peace and Love, and even a collection of Zulu shields – the event also features live music daily at the park’s lake area.

The music flows from 7.30pm to 8.30pm – and includes not only piped carols but also performances by solo artists dotted around the park, among them an amiable drummer who happily gives some impromptu drumming lessons to enthusiastic visitors.

The talking tree at the Trail of Lights display in Durban.

The Cinderella coach drawn by four horses, all depicted in golden lighting (and with a real-life Cinderella character in ballgown to meet and greet) is a big draw, as are a large blue Christmas tree, and Santa in his uniquely South African sleigh at the CROW Santa’s grotto, where fun photo opportunities are available.

Also roaming the grounds to greet visitors are forest fairies, Santa’s elves and Mr Snowman. And don’t miss Botanic Gardens’Talking Tree (that has a special message just for you), along with other fascinating creatures.

A Food Garden, offering local artisan food vendors, is available, along with the Tree of Light, where visitors are encouraged to sponsor a light on the tree in remembrance of loved ones that have passed on.

Cupcake decorating, Pop Up stalls and education stations are also part of the fun.

No food or drinks are permitted into the gardens as refreshments are on sale there.

This year’s charities include The Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (Crow), Feeding the Furballs, Cupcakes of Hope and Tafta.

Pay a visit and be enchanted while helping raise finds for good causes.

The Trail of Lights is also the Durban Botanic Gardens’ biggest annual fundraiser and proceeds go towards the upkeep and preservation of the gardens for visitors and future generations to enjoy.

Many of the gardening features also contribute to the holiday theme this year, and I particularly loved the floral arrangements depicting snowmen.

Tickets cost R50 each if booked online at http://www.webtickets.co.za or a Pick n Pay Store (children under two get in free). Tickets cost R70 at the park gate on the night, if tickets are still available, and early booking is advised as many had to be turned away at last year’s event.

For more information on the Trail of Lights visit http://www.trailoflights.co.za or phone the Durban Botanic Gardens Information Centre at (031) 322 4021.


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