WWT London Wetland Centre general manager talks ILLUMINATURE and her mission to get families engaged with nature
Lisa Woodward is the General Manager of WWT London Wetland Centre and we caught up with her to find out about ILLUMINATURE, some of the highlights you can look out for and how she hopes the event will inspire a new generation to fall in love and engage with nature…
Lisa, what is so special about WWT London Wetland Centre at this time of year?
The Centre is amazing all year round, with the cycles of nature and how it changes. Autumn and winter are some of the best times of year, with the autumn migration meaning rare birds arrive that you don’t see in summer. The landscape is beautiful with the trees changing colour, misty mornings with fog on the reserve; it feels rather romantic. The birds have completed their moulting as they grow new, warm feathers to see them through the winter and their behaviour changes too. Bats are active all the way through until November, which is always so lovely to see.
What are you most looking forward to about ILLUMINATURE?
This is a fantastic chance for people to see WWT London Wetland Centre in a completely different setting, as we light up the reed beds and trees to showcase their beauty, whilst being sympathetic to the Centre and all the nature and wildlife we have here. It is looking amazing and really works with the setting. It manages to be both subtle and dramatic at the same time.
Children will love the lily pads they can jump on which light up, switching on sculptures with interactive buttons, and having fun with the shadow play in our lodge.
One of my personal favourite parts is one of our bridges, which has been lit up with and a kingfisher, lapwing and oyster catcher perching on the edge of it – I think couples will love to take a moment to gaze across the water.
There is something for all ages, and we hope that everyone will appreciate its beauty.
What do you want people to take away from this after seeing the light trail?
That WWT London Wetland Centre is not just for summer! We are so lucky to have such a seasonal climate that allows us to experience all the changes in nature.
We also want people to learn about the important role of wetlands and why we need to protect them. They are under threat but provide essential protection against climate change, floods and pollution, as well as being vital for our wellbeing, and providing homes for many endangered species.Around the trail there are lots of facts about WWT and the importance of wetlands, and the work we have done.
Finally, we want to introduce a new audience to conservation. We want to make nature more accessible, and events like these are an important way of attracting different visitors. We want as many people as possible to understand the valuable work that WWT does as a charity.
How important is it for families and children to be inspired by nature?
ILLUMINATURE is a huge opportunity to promote WWT London Wetland Centre and all the amazing wildlife and thousands of species that live here. It is vital to inspire children and families to get outdoors and discover nature, and fall in love with it. As well as all our wonderful regular supporters and visitors, we want new people to come and connect with nature. Over the summer we had many first-time who didn’t think they were “outdoorsy” people but found they loved spotting wildlife, getting outdoors and walking around in the fresh air.
What area of the Centre do people go in when they visit and what will they be able to do?
They will start at the courtyard area where there will be hot chocolate, mulled wine, crêpes, hotdogs and other tasty things on sale. They will be able to watch a fantastic video about the work of WWT and then do the trail. ILLUMINATURE takes place in the ‘World Wetlands’ area, a real favourite of our regular visitors, where in the daytime they can see otters, curious Hawaiian geese and other amazing wildlife. There are little windows visitors can look through to see the otters tucked up in their beds!
Plus, at October half-term and Christmas, we will have a carousel and hook a duck games too.
How important are your volunteers who work here?
Essential – we couldn’t do what we do without them. We have 200 volunteers here at London and we are incredibly lucky and proud of them all. Make sure you say hello to them on the trail!
ILLUMINATURE takes place from 22nd October 2021 to 9th January 2022.
For more information on the event and to book your tickets visit the event page.
ILLUMINATURE is hosted by WWT and Lumagica, in association with MK Experience.