Friday, November 20, 2009 - 11:06

Santa Claus will be launching Christmas at the Eden Project on Friday November 27, in a spectacular evening of carols, sparkling trees and a stunning lantern procession.

The event, part of Eden’s A Time of Gifts winter season, starts at 5.40 pm with the awakening of a giant Cloud Dragon on the ice rink. Accompanied by an ice chest, the dragon will then lead the way to the Rainforest Biome to the stirring sound the Cornish pipe band Radjel.

At 5.50pm Mount Charles Brass Band will be playing Christmas carols as Santa arrives in a decorated land-train and takes centre stage at the arena. He will then light Eden’s beautiful white Christmas tree, made from thousands of recycled carrier bags.

Dotted around the scene are trees that have been decorated by local school children and community groups.

Classes from 19 primary schools planned and hosted tea parties for their ‘elders’, supported by lead artists and Eden staff. Children and 'elders' shared stories of their community Christmases past and present.

Each class then created tree decorations to tell the stories they had shared. Each tree has a story, of community, of a lifetime of memories, of knowledge to be passed on and of unanswered questions.

Enhancing the festive glow is the beautifully-lit wood which fringes Eden’s spectacular rink, designed with a larger skating area this year.

At 7.30pm there will be carols from the Eden Project Choir under the twinkling lights of the Mediterranean Biome.

There will be an exciting climax at 8.30pm when the dragon returns from the rainforest and leads visitors on a lantern-lit meander to the arena, where Dalla, a traditional Cornish band, will close the evening.

Visitors will be able to enjoy a variety of freshly prepared and locally-sourced food, including Eden-baked bread and home-made soup at £1.75, winter berry and chilli chocolate crepes.

If they really want to warm up they can take an atmospheric stroll around the Rainforest Biome, where they can stop for an ice-cold cocktail and some musical entertainment and stories at the new tropical bar, Bam Bams.

November 27 is also the last chance before Christmas for Cornwall and Devon residents to take advantage of Eden’s offer of half-price admission. All they need is proof of residence and photo ID.

Christmas shoppers will find the Eden Store is stocked with beautiful and unusual decorations, hampers and gifts for all the family, with plenty of ideas for stocking fillers.

Chris Rowe, Eden’s Programme Producer, said: “The launch night is going to set the tone for the rest of the Christmas period at Eden. With Father Christmas, sparkly lights, ice skating, wonderful music and great food, there will be a wonderful Christmas atmosphere.

“The Ice Dragon is the centrepiece of a spectacular show. Its journey with the ice casket is a symbolic tale of how the polar ice caps and the tropics are key to the survival of the planet.”

The launch night on November 27 signals the start of the festive period with late night opening on Friday and Saturday nights except on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. On late nights, the site is open until 9pm with last entry at 7.30pm.

Until December 23, Eden will be serving Christmas lunches and dinners with all the trimmings. The turkey is from Tywardreath and all the vegetables are locally grown. Lunch is £6.75 or two courses for £8.50.

Christmas at Eden runs through to January 2. The winter season, A Time of Gifts, which celebrates the joy of spending time with friends and family and giving gifts which are precious, such as time and friendship, runs until February 12.