If you go down to the woods this week, you’ll stumble upon magical mirrors, blankets of snowdrops and mythical tree-dwelling creatures if you head to Cambo Estate, that is.
It’s the season for snowdrop walks across the country, but the night-time Snowdrops by Starlight Festival is sure to mesmerise and enchant people of all ages. This is the fifth year the event, which sees the famous snowdrop woods at stunning Cambo Estate in Fife illuminated by a spectacular light experience.
Organisers were inspired to put on the show in 2010 after they caught sight of drifts of snowdrops in car headlights.
While previous events have seen children hunting for fairies and adults enjoying art installations, lighting and sound effects, this year’s show promises to be the most exciting and unusual yet.
The main focus will be on an installation of mirrors throughout the woods and the way they reflect and illuminate thousands of snowdrops. But there’s also hunting for Glingbobs and Tootflits (creatures that live in the woods), a ‘theatre’ of snowdrops, arts and craft workshops.
“This year’s production will be much more interactive,” said Lady Catherine Erskine of Cambo Estate.
“It’s always been about environmental art but the 2015 show is absolutely spectacular.Snowdrops by Starlight runs from February 11 to 15. The event opens at 5.30pm each night and visitors can take as long as they wish to enjoy the walk but it’s suggested they allow around an hour-and-a-quarter. Cambo Estate is on the A917 just south of St Andrews. Cambo House, Kingsbarns, KY16 8QD. To book, phone 01333 450313 or visit www.snowdropsbystarlight.com Visitors can pick up free copies of The Cambo Courier, Scotland’s leading snowdrop newspaper. The February edition includes news and features, interviews, dates for your diary, a competition and a fun wordsearch.“In previous years, lights have picked out features in the designed landscape, both natural and man-made, mature trees seemed even more magnificent and the sculptures created by artists and school groups from willow and natural materials caught everyone’s imagination. Even the odd shower of rain or snow didn’t dampen the effect indeed visitors remarked that they added to the enchantment!”
This year’s show is inspired by a Dennis Felix poem, Place a Mirror by a Tree. The show, which is called Reflect (In Light Of), places mirrors of various shapes and sizes throughout the woodland and snowdrop blankets, enhanced by a fantastic light installation.
“Some mirrors will be engraved with a line of the poem while others will have objects attached to ‘frame’ the individual to see themselves as a traveller, or to reflect on themselves within the theme of family, consumer or learner,” said Lady Erskine.
“The first and final mirrors will be ‘naked’. The theory is that the individual will visually focus on the mass of snowdrops and trees, both real and reflected in the first mirror, but by the final mirror the focus may be more concentrated on themselves or their reflection. Ultimately the individual will emerge from the woodland feeling he or she has been on a journey of discovery and ultimately may see themselves differently.” Very intriguing!
The theatre of illuminated snowdrops in the Old Stables will again see snowdrops in mirrors, and this will be the last year these buildings will be used for the event before they are converted into an education and visitor hub.
For anyone who has been to Enchanted Forest in Faskally Woods near Perthshire, a comparison might seem tempting. But Lady Erskine is keen to point out that the Snowdrops show is nothing like the award-winning Perthshire offering.
“We’ve always aimed to have more of an arts side to the show. There’s something for everyone curious mythical creatures living in little houses in the trees, stunning light installations, beautiful snowdrops, great music, various workshops and possibly a capella singing from the St Andrews University Fellowship on Friday.
“All audience members will be encouraged to interact with and respond creatively to the thoughts and emotions prompted by the mirrors and reflections and to their experience in the snowdrop installation. This could be via photography, writing or art.
“These responses can be created on-site or sent by post and are shared online. It’s an opportunity for professional artists and the general public to share their responses.”
A selection will then become the content for the multimedia installation of Snowdrops by Starlight 2016.
Double Take Projections are creative producers for the event. They’ve worked for some of the biggest events and brands in Scotland T in the Park, Scotrail, Poppy Scotland and Island Records, as well as having produced large scale outdoor projections at Scone Palace and Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens.
Snowdrops by Starlight runs in tandem with Cambo’s annual Snowdrop Festival, until March 15. The national collection boasts more than 350 snowdrops and while visitors can wander round the 70 acres of woodland between 10am and 5pm, there are also opportunities to feed piglets, listen to stories, see sculptures and participate in arts and craft workshops.
Wrap up warm, wear boots and remember tickets are only available in advance. The Snowdrop tearoom will be transformed in the evenings with twinkling lights, the gift shop will be open and snowdrops and other plants will be for sale.