Eden Project

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Located in the Cornish countryside, around 6.5km (4 miles) northeast of St Austell, the Eden Project is one of the world’s leading ecological attractions, featuring biomes representing both Mediterranean and tropical ecosystems.

The site offers an immersive experience that blends education, conservation and adventure. This remarkable site, established on the grounds of a reclaimed china clay quarry, showcases the diversity of plant life from across the globe and serves as a beacon of sustainable living practices.

The project is the brainchild of Tim Smit and Jonathan Ball, who worked alongside a team of experts to transform the abandoned quarry into a thriving ecosystem bursting with life. Since its establishment, the Eden Project has welcomed millions of visitors, inspiring them to reconnect with nature and appreciate the delicate balance of ecosystems on our planet.

The Eden Project is far more than a botanic garden. It serves as a centre for environmental education, research, and sustainability advocacy. The project is dedicated to fostering a deeper understanding of the natural world and promoting positive action to combat the challenges faced by our planet. By showcasing the diversity of plants and their vital role in our ecosystem, the Eden Project aims to ignite a passion for conservation and inspire visitors to make a difference in their own lives.

The biomes at the Eden Project (Image by Roman Grac from Pixabay)
The biomes at the Eden Project (Image by Roman Grac from Pixabay)

What to see at the Eden Project

The main focus of the Eden Project are its Biomes – two colossal geodesic domes that house distinct climatic zones.

Visitors to the Rainforest Biome are immersed in the lush greenery and humid ambiance of a tropical rainforest. Here you can explore the winding paths and encounter a vast array of plant species, including exotic orchids, towering palms and vibrant bromeliads. The Rainforest Biome features waterfalls and it is also home to tropical birds.

Inside the Rainforest Biome at the Eden Project. (Photo by Jack Young on Unsplash)
Inside the Rainforest Biome at the Eden Project. (Photo by Jack Young on Unsplash)

The Mediterranean Biome, is a sun-soaked haven that replicates the climates of the Mediterranean Basin, South Africa and California. Visitors can wander through aromatic citrus groves, see blooming flowers and discover the resilience of plants that have adapted to survive in arid environments. The Mediterranean Biome offers a journey through fragrant gardens, olive groves, and vineyards, evoking a sense of tranquillity and serenity.

Beyond the biomes, the Eden Project boasts outdoor gardens that showcase the biodiversity of the region and highlight sustainable gardening practices. Stroll through the outdoor gardens, where you’ll encounter myriad native plant species, vibrant floral displays, and innovative landscape designs.

The Core is a building at the Eden Project in Cornwall that houses educational exhibits and visitor facilities. The building is shaped like a pinecone, and its roof is made of copper. It is home to the Eden Learning Centre, an educational facility used for school groups, as well as a number of visitor facilities including a cafe, restaurant and gift shop.

The biomes at the Eden Project with The Core at the right of the picture. (Image by Penstones from Pixabay)
The biomes at the Eden Project with The Core at the right of the picture. (Image by Penstones from Pixabay)

Nature’s Playground is a new outdoor adventure play area that opened in July 2023. It is one of the biggest in southwest England, covering nearly 500m² (5382 sq ft) around the Core Building and up to the Bluff Bridge. The playground was created with nature and adventure at its heart, and features a variety of activities for children of all ages, including the 9m (29½ ft)-tall Tree of Life tower, slides and ladders, swings, a wood wide web, a willow coppice soakaway, a water course fed by recycled groundwater and a china clay pit.

The site is also home to an excellent display of outdoor sculpture, with many of the art installations addressing environmental themes.

The Eden Project is home to extensive outdoor sculpture including Driftwood by Heather Jansch. (Image by Penstones from Pixabay)
The Eden Project is home to extensive outdoor sculpture including Driftwood by Heather Jansch. (Image by Penstones from Pixabay)

Activities and temporary exhibitions at the Eden Project

In addition to the biomes and the outdoor gardens, the Eden Project also hosts a programme of temporary exhibits and interactive workshops that allow you to learn more about the environment. Current and planned activities and exhibitions include:

Festival of Imagination
The Festival of Imagination (until 2 June 2024) is a family event that features music, art, literature and interactive experiences designed for all ages.

The festival aims to inspire and empower children in the South West by providing access to art and culture. Highlights include:

  • Blockbuster Factory (filmmaking): Participate in Martin Bielspurg’s unique film venture, where the audience plays key roles like camera operator, makeup artist, or stunt double, influencing the story’s outcome.
  • Daily storytelling with children’s authors including Craig Barr Green, Rachel Bright, Rebecca Cobb, Suzanna Hubbard and Emma Yarlett.
  • Daily percussion and puppetry: Watch the Anansi and the Lost Sun puppet show twice daily, with puppetry crafts in between. Participate in live African drumming, dancing, acrobatics, and drumming workshops with One Drum.
  • Game Lounge: Design your own game character, either on paper or digitally, and then play as that character.
  • Mossy Carpet (collaborative artwork): Contribute to a 50m (164ft) carpet adorned with pompoms and textiles, aiming to grow to 100m (328ft).
  • Looking for the Cloud (creative computing): Join Bath Spa University researchers to explore network building, energy use, and the technologies behind the Internet.
  • Power to the People film: Watch a film by Cornwall Climate Care about Cornwall’s potential to lead the UK’s clean energy revolution with its renewable resources.

Cornelia Parker: The Future
This exhibition (until 2 November 2024) by British artist and Turner Prize nominee Cornelia Parker will be on display in the Core Gallery, on the top floor of the Core building. The exhibition features a film installation that explores the future through the eyes of primary school children.

Eden Marathon and Half Marathon
The Eden Marathon and Half Marathon (20 October 2024) is an annual running event taking place at the Eden Project. The marathon is a 42.1km (26.2-mile) course that takes runners through the biomes and gardens of the Eden Project, while the half marathon is a 21km (13.1-mile) course that takes runners through the biomes and surrounding countryside. The event is followed by a post-race party with food and live music.

The Eden Project also hosts a programme of outdoor cinema and concerts.

Visiting the Eden Project

The Eden Project is 6.5km (4 miles) northeast of St Austell. It is only a 10-minute drive from St Austell and it is also accessible by bus with bus routes 28 and 31 running between St Austell and the Eden Project; however, the bus takes a roundabout route taking around 35 minutes to get to the site with buses running only once every 1½ hours or so.

The Eden Project covers 30ha (74 acres) so there is a lot to see and a visit will involve a lot of walking. However, it is fully wheelchair accessible (and there are also wheelchairs available for loan).

Nature’s Playground is open to all children aged 16 and under, and is included in the price of admission to the Eden Project. However, free pre-booking is required for children.

There is also a wide choice of places to eat and drink including the Med Terrace and Biome Kitchen restaurants plus the Little Lunch Box and Eden Coffee House cafes. However, many people bring their own picnic to save money.

The Eden Project is a large attraction with a lot to see and most people allow a half-day for their visit.

Amenities
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Guided tours (paid)
  • Cafe/restaurant
  • Gift shop

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