Christmas in Greater Manchester usually evokes memories of busy market streets, crowds round stalls and being squashed up against other Christmas enthusiasts.‘Glow’ at the RHS Garden Bridgewater offers an alternative festive experience that delights with a slower pace to the season.
The RHS hosts the ‘Glow’ event annually at other venues such as Wisely and Rosemoor, but this is the first time the event has come to Salford as Bridgewater only opened in May this year. At the end of November, over 39,000 people booked in to see the gardens, moving the organisers to put on more tickets throughout December.
Upon entry to the wintry gardens, you are guided through a one-way walk through each major section such as the Walled Gardens, the Woodlands, the Lake and the Chinese Streamside Garden, each illuminated with twinkling lights.
Serving as a sort of half-way point, there is a small outdoor food market area where guests can enjoy a Bailey’s Hot Chocolate and Frankfurters of both meat and vegan variety.
Visitors can choose to stay in the outdoor picnic area or take their snacks with them to continue the walk around the garden.
The Woodland area and the Ellesmere Lake are the most visually impressive illuminations. Coloured lights beam onto the trees and transitions gradually. Some trees even change colour when walking past them.
Visitors to the gardens said the lights were “charming and delightful.”
One woman said: “it was beautiful and sophisticated, like everything the RHS does.”
The idea of Glow is to take your time exploring the gardens at night, which is a completely different experience from during the day.
The flowers and plants aren’t on display with information available to read, the guided walkway aims to relax and enchant guests.
As we strolled through the illuminated woods, families stopped to marvel at the tall trees, each bright and bold to look at. A stark contrast to the pitch-black sky they stood against when you look up.
As glow starts at 4:30pm and runs through till 9pm, with last entry at 7:30pm the shop, café and garden centre remain open later as well.
The shop is full of local and beautifully designed gifts, perfect for last minute Christmas shopping.
The café serves a selection of homemade delicacies alongside pies and pasties made by HM Pasties; a bakery that employs ex-offenders and supports them in finding long term employment.
You can also find mulled wine, mulled juice, mince pies and Christmas cake. Each more delicious than the last.
‘Glow’ provides Salford an enchanting wonderland of light. Without being overly Christmassy, the RHS have balanced festivities and beauty well in a stunning and tranquil environment.