Having never been to Glow Wild at Wakehurst, we assumed it would be the kind of adventure best left for those who have children to entertain, but when we found that for 2022 they have exclusive adult-only session we decided to take a peek. So last Friday we arrived for our 8 pm session with no preconceived idea about the event. As Wakehurst members, we have visited many times during the summer, and love walking around the gardens, through the woodlands, and seeing all the birds and wildlife that inhabit this spectacular destination.
Our evening actually started a little further down the road at 7 pm, where we sampled some amazing food at The Gardeners Arms Pub & Restaurant, Ardingly. You can pre-book a meal at Wakehurst for before or after your Glow Wild experience but being gluten- and dairy-free we did not have many options so decided to pop into the local pub to see if they could fit us in and accommodate our restricted diets.
We were welcomed to The Gardeners Arms by Ben, who managed to squeeze us in on a table for two, as we had not pre-booked and it was getting busy. With just an hour to spare, we decided to split a starter and a main course between the two of us and asked for them to arrive at the same time, if possible. I have to say when I explained I also wanted them dairy- and gluten-free, Ben offered a genuine smile and said that would not be an issue. One leek and potato soup, burger and chips, wine and water later, and we were exceptionally impressed. So much so, we will be booking a return visit as soon as we can, to dine in a more leisurely manner.
Anyway, I digress. At Wakehurst, we were able to make use of the free parking available and excitedly wandered through the reception, being directed along the way until we were at the start of the Glow Wild trail. With a hut selling mulled wine, we filled our cups, picked up a lantern, and were ready to go. What followed can only be described as an escape from reality, from the day-to-day rush of work, and family life.
We wandered - yes, wandered - as slowly as many of the other visitors that night, looking from left to right, and up and down, at the beautiful display of lights along the trail, the illuminated features, and even up into the night sky, which was clear of clouds and full of stars. A quick search of the night sky found Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune. And much staring into space was rewarded an hour later with the biggest, and longest shooting star we had ever seen, glowing bright and orange as it disappeared from the sky, into the night.
With other refreshment huts and facilities along the route, there is ample opportunity to relieve and refresh ourselves, so if you are going with little ones, or those needing a pitstop, this should not be an issue. The route is about a mile long and depending on your speed can be walked in an hour or two. We took the longest of times, spending more time than most absorbing the displays, the atmosphere, the sounds, and the sheer delight of feeling like children again, being wowed and wondered by pretty lights.
At the end of the trail, there are more options to eat and drink and spend time listening to the entertainers. So as not to spoil the experience, we purposely have not included many photos of the night, nor the next night when we sent another couple of reporters back for an earlier session. This time there were many children all having the best of times amongst the many lights and sounds. Glow Wild also offers a limited number of 'quiet session' tickets with entry at 4.15 pm on selected days. These are suitable for visitors with hidden disabilities, such as autism, to make for a more comfortable visit whilst still experiencing the sensory benefits of Glow Wild.
Available through to January, with the following dates and times: -
Thursday 24 Nov - Sunday 27 Nov
Wednesday 30 Nov - Sunday 4 Dec
Wednesday 7 Dec - Sunday 11 Dec
Tuesday 13 Dec - Friday 23 Dec
Tuesday 27 Dec - Sunday 1 Jan
Choose from 12 time slots at 20-minute intervals between 4.30 pm - 8.00 pm.
New for 2022 - All 8 pm time slots on Fridays throughout Glow Wild are reserved for adults only. Gardens close at 10 pm on all Glow Wild evenings (last entry 8.20 pm).
Get your tickets now - as they are booking fast. Visit Glow Wild at Wakehurst to secure your slot.