Illuminate the Gardens set to light up Sheffield

Taking place over two nights (Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th November) in the Botanical Gardens, Illuminate the Gardens is promising to be an exciting addition to the city’s winter calendar. We spoke to Laura Holmes from Events Collective, the team behind the event, to find out more about what they have got in store.

So, Laura, tell us how this event has come about.
This event has been an aspiration for our team for some time, with our Director, Bob Worm, developing the concept and working to make it happen over the last few years, so it’s really exciting to finally be able to see some of those ideas come to life. I think the south of Sheffield has really been crying out for an event like this: a safe, organised public display in a stunning location, with a great bar and fabulous street food, quality music and plenty to keep the kids occupied.

What can people expect at Illuminate the Gardens this year?
First of all, our event is taking place in one of the most beautiful public spaces in Sheffield and we want to make the most of that. We will be lighting features around the Botanical Gardens and the wonderful Pavilion building to create a truly magical space for the weekend. Although the fireworks may be our ‘headline act’, so to speak, we think the Gardens themselves will be the star of the show.

Tell us a bit about the firework display itself, what will set it apart from others?
We’re working with a fantastic fireworks company, Optimum Fireworks, who were winners of the national Firework Champions competition in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and provide finale fireworks for awesome events such as The Beat-Herder Festival. There will be a ‘no bangs’ fireworks display in the early evening for younger children or others who don’t enjoy the loud noises of a traditional display, followed by a dazzling finale display later on.

You mentioned street food and a bar, tell us more!
As you know, the other major public event that we run is Sheffield Food Festival, which takes place on the late May bank holiday weekend each year, so food and drink is one of our top priorities. We’re spoilt for choice in terms of great local street food companies in Sheffield, and we’ve pulled in some of the best!

Sounds tasty. Can we have some names?
Everyone expects a little smoke on Bonfire Night, so we’ve teamed up one of the big hitters from this year’s food festival – Smoke BBQ – with loaded pulled pork and sausage butties to satisfy even the most ravenous of carnivores. We also have The Gravy Train, whose Canadian speciality ‘poutine’ (basically chips, curd cheese and gravy with yummy toppings) is an ideal winter warmer; the Sunshine Pizza Oven, who make fabulous organic pizzas; and The Ottomen, who do mouthwatering mediterranean mezzes. There’s plenty to satisfy all dietary requirements, whether vegetarian, vegan or gluten free. If you’re just after a snack, we’ll have Wah Wahs bringing their churros, plus delicious Mexican street corn from new Sheffield company Corn of the Dead. And we’re really pleased that The Curator’s House will be open throughout the event, serving posh jackets, soups and homemade pies, all with the option to sit down in their warm cafe!

And on the drinks front?
We’re working with the best local breweries to stock our licensed bar, with lager from Stancill and real ales from Kelham Island and Bradfield Breweries. We also have our good friends Mr D’Arcy’s Drinks Emporium serving mulled wine, mulled cider, Baileys hot chocolates and a special bonfire night cocktail alongside their usual gin and prosecco offerings. The fabulous Coffika will have a van providing locally roasted coffee, espresso martinis and sweet treats.

That’s food and drink sorted. What else have you got in store?
We’re going all out to make it a great place to hang out for the whole evening, and really get value for money from your ticket. We’re working with the team from The Big WoW venue in Kelham Island, which is a brilliant up-and-coming new venue, to host some intimate acoustic sessions in the Marnock Garden. We’ve got the Phoenix Fire Fairy team choreographing fire performances on the main lawns. And we have designed an art trail, which features eight interesting sculptures located around the Gardens for people to discover. Each sculpture will have a stamp point at it and we have some arty gifts in store for the first 250 children to collect all eight stamps on each night.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Well, we’re encouraging people to walk to the event or get the bus, as parking is limited around the Botanical Gardens. We’ll put details of the different travel options on our website. There will be provision for Blue Badge holders to park near the Thomson Rd entrance to the Gardens. Tickets are on sale online and they’re much cheaper in advance. We’ll be running some student promotions and group booking discounts in October, so make sure you’re following on social media or sign up to our mailing list for updates.


Advance tickets can be purchased here or in person from The Curator’s House at the Botanical Gardens, or from Airy Fairy, 239 London Rd. 

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