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If you’re embarking on a family-friendly holiday in Cornwall, you likely already have the Eden Project in your sights.
With its bubble-like biomes and outstanding range of plants from around the globe, the Eden Project is a fantastic feat of biological engineering and is one of Cornwall’s premier attractions – a true must-visit!
You might recognise the iconic structure, but what else do you know about this attraction?
Built into an old china clay pit in south Cornwall, the Eden Project consists of a selection of biomes. These giant greenhouse-like structures are made from inflatable plastic cells that are supported by steel frames.
The unique structures allow for the creation of artificial climates, where a myriad of native plants from tropical and desert environments can thrive.
The two main biomes emulate rainforest and Mediterranean climates respectively and house a vast selection of stunning plants.
The site also includes expansive outdoor gardens and various art installations and exhibitions.
Funded by the Millennium Commission and intended as a way of re-energising the Southwest, the Eden Project opened in March of 2001.
With no building of this scale in the world, at the time a global audience referred to it as the eighth wonder of the world! It was hugely popular from the start, attracting over 1 million visitors in its first four months.
After functioning as a working clay pit for over 160 years, the original site of the Eden Project was also used as a filming location for the 1981 BBC series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
In 2002, after the Eden Project’s construction, it once again became a filming location for the James Bond film Die Another Day.
Overall, the Eden Project cost £141 million to complete.
The build was funded through a series of government grants and loans from institutions like the Millennium Commission – with funding coming from the National Lottery – and European regeneration funds.
Since it was fully funded in 2000, the site has been a source of enormous economic revitalisation for Cornwall and the Southwest as a whole – it is believed to have contributed well over £1 billion to the local economy since its launch.
The hexagonal shape of the biome’s cells was based on soap bubbles and were used for their ability to adapt to the uneven shape of the clay pit that they were built in.
Each cell is made up of three layers of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene copolymer (ETFE) that is inflated to create a pillow. Similar to clingfilm, ETFE is lighter than glass but also strong enough to withstand the weight of a car. It also lets in UV light for the plants inside.
If the plastic needs to be cleaned, this is performed by abseilers who scale the structure.
Eden’s tropical biome houses an incredible selection of plants that make up the largest indoor rainforest in the world!
With over 1,000 varieties of plants, there’s plenty to see and experience, especially when venturing up to the canopy walkway that gives you stunning views from great heights. Temperatures in the biome reach between 18 and 35°C to create a humid environment that replicates climates of Southeast Asia, West Africa and South America.
The Eden Project is a charitable organisation, although the amount of money it receives from government organisations has sharply decreased. Seen now as more of a social enterprise, the Eden Project is fully capable of funding its operations through gate receipts and other revenue streams.
Despite this, the Eden Project still values its charitable ethos, placing this at the centre of much of their work. They run many educational programmes at the site, while also using their reputation to push the conversation about our environment.
Thanks to its unique venue, the Eden Project is also a popular place to host musical performances, with world-renowned musicians performing in these ‘Eden Sessions’.
Over the years, the Eden Project has hosted acts like Snow Patrol, Amy Winehouse, Elton John, Bastille, Kaiser Chiefs and much more.
2021 headliners are set to be My Chemical Romance, The Script, Lionel Richie and Diana Ross.
Since 2012, the World Pasty Championships have been held at the Eden Project. This competition is, of course, centred around finding the best Cornish pasty, although there are rounds for other non-traditional bakes too.
The event sees amateurs, professional bakers, and companies compete to be crowned the pasty champion. Competitors come from all over the country and from further afield to get the chance to show off their baked goods.
Although the vast array of plants and spectacular gardens are the main draw of the Eden Project, a peaceful stroll in the greenery is not all the site has to offer.
The 660m long zip wire that takes you to speeds of 60 mph is sure to provide a thrill – not to mention the other adrenaline activities, including a giant swing, leap of faith and aerial obstacle course.
Eden Project International is an organisation chaired by many of the people behind the Eden Project in Cornwall. It was created with the mission of supporting other potential projects across the world in developing their own Eden sites based on the local environments.
There are both national and international projects proposed, with a site in Dundee most recently announced. Based in a former gasworks, this exciting project is set to bring in millions to the regional economy.
There are numerous other planned projects across the world, including in China, Australia and the U.S.A.
The Eden Project is a fantastic location to visit any time of the year and is just one of the many reasons to take a trip to Cornwall. Here at The Valley, our luxury holiday park in Cornwall makes a great base for your Cornish adventures – discover more about our 5-star accommodations today.