Review By Dystrophy Dad
We attended Glasglow at Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens last night. For the unenlightened, the event is the latest from deals and events company Itison, who marketed the event as Stranger Things meets Game of Thrones in a Glasgow Park. With their annual Christmas drive-in movie being as much of a family tradition as matching Christmas PJ’s, we knew to expect a good time. We parked across the street, getting there early and avoiding the queue. Metal temporary barriers bordered the outer wall of the botanic gardens, there was enough room for a wheelchair and a standing person.
As we entered, the foliage on either side of path was illuminated by purple and green lights. In the early dark of winter, the colours were ethereal and gave a hint of what was to come. I was able to push myself here and made sure to stop for a photo in front on the artificial moon and the Glasglow sign.
First, we entered the Upside Down of what was once the Kibble Palace, home to all manner of strange and exotic plants and a room of which holds a collection of carnivorous plants. As a side note, Itison, please have a showing of Little Shop of Horrors! Unfortunately, though understandably, this room was closed.
The path led past an illuminated pond and uplit statues to a twilight jungle realm. In the background I could hear the steady beating of tribal drums, accompanied by music that was all at once wondrous and foreboding, with the occasional dragon’s roar breaking up the jungle beat. Within the dense jungle, surprises were littered. From dragon eggs, to a towering totem and luminous Moai heads, with varying contorted expressions, it felt as though were were in a world adjacent to Jumanji. Being inside a greenhouse, the path was well maintained and easy to manoeuvre in a manual wheelchair. The pathways could easily accommodate two wheelchairs side by side, but single file was the suggested approach from the helpful staff.
We completed the circuit of the palace and exited back into the grounds. I have a few gripes with the outside pathways but these are by no means directed at Itison. They only cast a spell over the venue, the do not own it, so it would be ridiculous to expect they make changes to this. The path is chipped, dented, uneven with a fair few potholes to be found. That isn’t to say that they can’t be navigated in a chair, one just has to watch where they’re wheeling. There are a few hills, which most in a manual wheelchair would need help to climb, unless they have above average upper body strength or don’t mind braking a few times to catch their breath. At certain intersections there are bricks which are a slightly raised and require a little hop with your chair These areas are about an inch higher than the surrounding path, so not too high.
The food village was a little ways up from the palace, with vendors I’ve seen at foodie events like The Big Feed and the DockYard Social selling shrimp buns, burgers, pizza and churros. We skipped this as we’d had dinner earlier but it would have been handy to have another stall, other than the marshmallow stall at the end of the trail as there is another uphill push required when you complete the circuit if you’re feeling peckish. Behind the food village was a field of dancing lights, a sea of luminescence that brought a sense of pre-Christmas magic to the grounds.
Wandering further along the trail and up another steep hill we heard a great deal of commotion. Over the hedge were voices, that of a couple of dragon adopters trying to keep their wee dragons under control. There was great alarm at the realisation a dragon had escaped, a dragon that had the taste for children that smelled of marshmallows… I hope there were none around. At the same time they were trying to deal with an unruly creature who breathed fire and farted plumes of smoke at the passing crowd.
I was glad that they included this useful FAQ on dragons.
I just wonder if the abolition of Tru-Bru will have a lasting effect on Scotland’s dragon populace.
Another hill, more difficult than the last, took us to a large moon, I needed brakes, and my wife needed breaks, in order to get me up it. I would have liked the moon to have been set a little further back as I felt I was teetering at the top of the hill, had this been the case, I would have been less worried. Due to the size of the moon, selfies were little more than silhouettes but the effect was nice.
I rode down a hill, then up another steep incline where we encountered a talking tree with a list of dad jokes to rival my own. A particular favourite telling of the abundance of pigeons trying to stage a “coo”.
Our journey took a sinister turn as bright spiders were moved around the grounds, leaving glowing webs to capture the inattentive. These wicked bioluminescent creatures leapt to different positions, hissing as they did so. Narrowly escaping the arachnids and their wicked webs, we took an easy (st)roll to the haunted wood, in the distance hearing a young girl singing “Ring a ring of roses”. The spirit was pushing a swing, upon which sat the toys she once enjoyed in life. If you thought this was creepy, just you wait.
Down through the illuminated arches, we encounter a dolls house glowing eerily, before running into this:
It didn’t have a name, so let’s call it Whit (dad jokes are a disease, as yet incurable). I posed for a picture, expecting Whit to jump at me, tickle me or just be generally terrifying, but either my wheelchair or my bravery in posing for a photo deterred him. As we continued on our way, I heard a scream and I was glad it wasn’t mine.
We went down a slope (wheeeeeeeee) to toast marshmallows. The marshmallows were large cubes of fluffiness, comfort after our terrifying trek. The wee one complained of having a defective marshmallow that didn’t want to toast, totally the marshmallow’s fault.
We wandered on, downhill past the graveyard, where dad jokes go to die. There were many punderful engraving, with Jim Jiminee, the ill-fated chimney sweep getting a laugh from me.
There was another steep hill, which I attempted myself, and failed, that took us to the other side of the sea of light. We sat for a bit and took some photos before making our way to the exit, parking so close paid off! I felt the exit was a bit unceremonious with only a member of staff standing at the gate and a small sign thanking us for attending, I can’t help but feel there was a final step missing. I would liked to have seen another person in the same clown costume, perhaps creepily reassuring us that they would see us again, or a final selfie stop, but this didn’t dampen the experience.
We spent a good two hours wandering this wicked wonderland and will gladly return. Itison, as usual, hosted a phenomenal event which we will return to if it takes place in future. This could easily be another of our Itison traditions.