Heligan by Night

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, which I last visited a couple of years ago, is one of the fabulous “Great Gardens of Cornwall” and during December the gardens were open in the evening for a “Heligan by Night” to experience the art of illumination as internationally renowned light artist Ulf Pedersen revealed the night time magic of Heligan’s historic plantings.

The trees and plants were lit up by different coloured lights which created a lovely magical stroll through the garden. We were lucky that on the night we attended the weather was reasonably calm and dry.

Starting the walk along Beacon Path passing by one of the dovecotes, we were fairly sure of where we were. Walking through the rhododendrons was quite a different experience though, as the curved branches took on a rather different look.

And the Cornish Palms (Cordyline Australis) looked almost like fireworks.

 Sometimes it was difficult to know where you were as you were diverted on to winding paths through bamboos and tree ferns in the New Zealand area. Patterns of leaves silhouetted onto tree trunks of unusual hues and the shape of leaves and branches became more evident in the dark.

Reaching the Melon Yard the colours were even more enriched. Jewel-like arbours and tunnels and vibrant glasshouses glowed in the darkness.

The final part of the walk was through the Productive Garden and then around through the Ravine to the Italian garden, which wasn’t lit up quite as much as I had imagined, and then up through the Western Ride and back to the beginning.

“ …transform the act of looking into a physical experience – where audiences frequently find themselves immersed in a sensational play of light and colour as the space metamorphoses into something unique and magical.”

~ Ulf Pedersen

I’ll leave you with a last look at those glorious natural fireworks.

If you like a walk, long or short, then please visit Jo for her regular strolls in the UK and the Algarve and maybe you would like to join in too. She’s very welcoming.

Thursday Special | Festive


  1. beetleypete says:

    Well that was certainly something different, Jude. A riot of colour, and a sight to behold indeed.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      Glad you liked it Pete. My one and only outing to any Christmas lights. A garden at night? How could I resist 🙂

  2. Peter Klopp says:

    Wow! What a display of colour and light! I am impressed with how well you could captures these amazing images with your camera, Jude..

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s a clever little camera Peter and the night setting worked well, though of course what you are seeing are some of the best of the bunch!

  3. Sue says:

    What a sight…a riot of colour for sure!

    1. Heyjude says:

      I loved the lights on the trunks showing up the textures, and the patterns of the leaves. It was good fun.

  4. I’m from NZ and visited Heligan years ago. I’d dearly love to have seen this December display but I’m so delighted you took and shared these wonderful photos full of vibrant colour! Enchanting!

    1. Heyjude says:

      It was different that’s for sure. At times I wasn’t even certain where we were (have been before in daylight). Some very interesting shapes and patterns created.

  5. Anabel Marsh says:

    These are beautiful – although the header is a little scary!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Even scarier the way his eyes follow you around…

  6. Su Leslie says:

    Magical shots Jude. I’ve been to a light festival in a park here, which was fantastic, but the lights at Heligan are something else. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      First year they have done this so I was glad to get tickets. I know they do it in several gardens across the world, but this is the first one for me.

      1. Su Leslie says:

        🙂 I Googled Ulf Pederson, and realised he’s done work in NZ to — an installation I missed, but friends raved about. There’s an annual Festival of Lights in a park in New Plymouth, and Wellington has LUX which is similar, but with work dotted around the CBD. There is something particularly magical about light sculpture, and I’m glad you got to go. 🙂

        1. pommepal says:

          I’ve seen the one in New Plymouth Sue, it is stunning too

        2. Su Leslie says:

          It’s on at the moment, and I keep looking at the weather forecast for New Plymouth to figure out when I can make a quick trip down there to see it. 🙂

        3. pommepal says:

          Certainly worth a visit. How is your weather in NZ?

        4. Su Leslie says:

          Hot and humid in Auckland. Apparently it’s to be very hot here, and very wet down south 😦

        5. pommepal says:

          Roll on March, always my favourite month over there, and here. It also happens to be my birth month!!!

        6. Su Leslie says:

          Hooray to that! I love when Feb ends and it starts to really feel like autumn. We have a couple of family birthdays then too, which make it even better.

  7. What a beautiful display. I’m glad you had a lovely evening to go and see it, Jude. When we were in Cornwall I wanted to go to Heligan and the Eden Project but we couldn’t fit both in. Eden won, but Heligan is on the list for next time.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes we were lucky with the weather. I prefer Heligan to Eden and now can’t wait to return in the spring.

      1. It will be glorious then.

  8. What an exuberant walk! What a fun experience. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      We weren’t sure we would actually make it as the weather hadn’t been so good, but went anyway and apart from a little light drizzle at the beginning of the evening, it was fairly fine. Glad we went!

  9. restlessjo says:

    Totally fabulous! What a lovely time you must have had playing with all these photos. They’ve come out so well, Jude. 🙂 🙂 When I saw your post I hoped you’d linked to mine. Not many shares this week so I’ll bustle over and squeeze you in. Thanks a lot! 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Well it was a walk, even if half the time we couldn’t see where we were going! Took us about 1 and a half hours, but then we do a sort of slow dawdle rather than a stroll – and of course having to wait patiently for people to move out of shot slows you down! I wasn’t sure the photos would be any good as it was so dark and hand-held, but the night scene worked well. Of course you are seeing some of the best shots! I hope Paula doesn’t mind sharing… 🙂

      1. restlessjo says:

        Course she won’t! I’m chuffed xx

        1. Heyjude says:

          I even have another one for you in a couple of days – getting them in before you leave us…

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I have to say I prefer all your photos of places that don’t need “artifying/”

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is a lovely garden. I aim to return in spring.

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