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Every Christmas season there are a plethora of recurring events to look forwards to.  Be that Christmas parties or family gatherings;  roast turkey or mince pies; to Christmas trees and late night shopping sprees.  The traditions are so ingrained that it’s actually quite rare to experience something completely new at Christmastime.  But that’s what we have this year, and we at the Varsity Hotel Cambridge are loving it.

The Botanic Gardens

Cultures across the world have been cultivating gardens for untold centuries.  From vast sprawling parklands one could easily get lost in, right down to carefully manicured Japanese stone gardens.  However, these have always typically been places of leisure, relaxation and recreation – whether for the masses or just an elite few.  Indeed, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world was a garden – the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

The development of Botanical Gardens was a far more recent affair and the product of the Renaissance.  With the oldest known example being built in Padua in 1545.  These were distinguished from earlier gardens as being places not primarily designed for recreation, but for scientific purposes.  Perhaps for experimentation, perhaps for education, and often for selective breeding.

The Cambridge Botanical Gardens are no exception.  The large grounds showcasing plant species from around the world and throughout history.  Such as a line of trees of the same species but taken from different parts of Europe.  The local climate of their origin showing itself in the morphology of their branches.  And of course it is well known as the place a certain Charles Darwin used to wander around in wonder while developing his theories of evolution.

Botanic Lights

However, the Botanic Gardens does also encompass the roles of both education and recreation.  Often at this time of year they showcase specifically cultivated Winter Gardens, which show off the best the natural world has to offer during the midwinter when so much is cold and barren.

But this year and for the first time ever they’ve decided to do something a little different.  The Botanic Lights is a winter trail of lights which brings the gardens to life after dark.  Featuring artistic displays around some of the Garden’s most prominent features such as the fountain, the lake and some of the glasshouses.  It is an attempt to transform the Garden into an almost magical place of wonder.

We at the Varsity Hotel Cambridge always appreciate the innovation to be found in this city.  And we embrace the new ideas and concepts they bring.