The Eden Project, nestled in an old china clay pit near St Austell, Cornwall, opened its doors in 2001. It may have started as a hole in the ground, but today its biomes are more than a tourist attraction, the Eden site is a sustainable, ethical, educational, concrete example of a thriving social enterprise that fuels many charitable projects around the globe.
The main attractions are the rainforest biome, mediterranean biome and outdoor gardens. The art and sculptures are worth a visit in their own right, including the giant bee, the seed sculpture carved with the pattern of a Fibonacci spiral and the now world-famous WEEE man, a 7-metre high structure made from the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) the average British household throws away in a lifetime.
Price: £25 adults, £20 concession, Children 5-16 £14, Children 0-4 Free
Discounts: 10% Discount when booking an advanced ticket on-line. £4 off per ticket when using Green travel (by foot, bicycle or bus). People who are unemployed, on Job Seeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance can get in for half price (ie £12.50). We offer free entry to one carer for each person who is being cared for, eg disabled person or foster child. Tesco Clubcard vouchers can be exchanged for tickets and various 2 for 1 and discount offers are available with popular Discount apps and sites throughout the year.
Free annual pass for all visitors: Convert your ticket for no extra cost to an annual pass by ticking the “gift aid” box.
Become a member for £40 (individual over 60) – £80 (family pass for 2 adults, with one guest pass each and 3 children)
Locals Pass is available for residents of Cornwall and Devon for £8-12 per person (this year’s offer is available to purchase until 7 March 2016 and enables free entry until 31 October 2016.)
The adventure activities are not included in the price and range from £15 – 30, full information here on the Hangloose Adventure site.
Retailer: Eden Project
About The Eden Trust
“The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future.
Our visitor destination in Cornwall, UK, is nestled in a huge crater. Here, massive Biomes housing the largest rainforest in captivity, stunning plants, exhibitions and stories serve as a backdrop to our striking contemporary gardens, summer concerts and exciting year-round family events. Registered charity number 1093070 (The Eden Trust). Money raised supports our transformational projects and learning programmes.” Read more on the official Eden project site here.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
The Eden project is a versatile attraction, catering for all ages, widely accessible (accessibility guide here), requires no special interests or expertise and with both indoor and outdoor features, is a great day out regardless of the weather.
For the more adventurous, there is the 600m long SkyWire zip line, the 6-storey giant swing and The Drop, a purpose built, 10 metre tower with two stunt jumps of 10 and 20 metres respectively.
There are many family activities when visiting with kids, including seasonal events, play grounds and a discovery trail. More information here at the official site.
Assistance dogs are welcome throughout the site. Dogs on a leash are welcome and catered for, but they are not allowed in the biomes or covered areas (except for the visitor centre) and have to be with their owner at all times.
The Eden project is very well designed, accessible and easy to navigate. The layout is ergonomic, encourages activity (but also provide alternatives for those unable to manage an active day out and about) and well signposted.
There are plenty of seating throughout, some covered, on a seat or relaxing on the grass. Most of the seating have no back support, but there are some chairs and benches.
Environment & People
The Eden project is an environmentally conscious attraction with a comprehensive sustainability policy in place. The Eden project operates on ethical and sustainable principles, raises awareness about ecological issues and aims to demonstrate and help visitors to be more environmentally conscious as well. The Eden shop sells fair trade, plant-based and recycled products, and most of their catering supplies are locally sourced.
A day out at the Eden project is not a budget choice, but definitely cost-effective. It is a world-class attraction with much to offer. The funds raised by the Eden project is used to fund multiple charitable projects around the world, more details here on the official site.
The Eden trust aims to include everyone and for those who cannot afford a £25 p.p. entry fee, alternative options are available, like half-price tickets for certain benefits, free entry for carers and various other discount opportunities (see above). A day ticket can be converted to an annual pass and at £25 per person, that is a budget choice for anyone looking for a regular place to visit throughout the year.
Travel season: Winter
Location: Eden Project, Bodelva (nr St Austell), Cornwall, PL24 2SG, UK
Booking: On-line (10% discount) or at the door
Open daily except for Christmas and a small number of training days.
Site gates open: 9 – 9:30am
Ticket desks open: 09:30 – 10am
Biomes open: 10 – 10:30 am
Last entry: 04:30pm
Site closes: 4 – 6pm
Full opening times at the Eden project site here.
The Adventure activities (zipline, swing and drop) are only available on specific dates listed here.
We highly recommend arriving early as some of the parking is a longer walk or shuttle ride from the entry doors and ticket processing is slow with queues during busy periods.
A significant portion of the attraction is outdoors with three main in-door areas that are not linked: A large reception area (with toilets and shop), Biomes (linked with a restaurant, toilets and shops in between) and the Educational Centre. There is a shuttle from reception to the Biomes.
In the rainforest biome temperatures are warm but not that hot, however the air is humid. The Mediterranean dome is warm with dry air. The restaurants, education and reception buildings are heated in the winter.
The Eden Project has a cafè, restaurant, juice bar, ice-cream parlour and pasty shack where food is “responsibly sourced, fairly traded, single-source, organic, seasonal and/or local and freshly made, often in front your eyes.” Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are available and on our visit, serving staff were knowledgeable and helpful and able to cater for specialist dietary requirements. Comprehensive information is available from food bought on-site, including menus, here.
Many visitors bring their own food for a picnic lunch.
Rain gear for wet days, warm clothing for cold days, sunscreen in the summer. Don’t miss the outdoor features just because it’s wet, cold or hot.
Connectivity: phone coverage?
As we left the Eden project and I started to think about how I would review it, my mind spontaneously drew a parallel with children’s toys. I once watched 2-year olds play in a hospital waiting room. A little boy picked up a beautiful wooden car and examined it closely. It didn’t do anything. It had no buttons to push, it made no noise, there was no flashing lights and it did not meet his expectations at all. He discarded it.
Another two year old picked it up with stars in her eyes. She touched the wood, felt its texture and shape and with a huge grin rolled its wheels first over her hand and then drove it around the room. She gave it a name, invented not just a story but a whole world for it and when it was time to go, she didn’t want to put it down. I’m not sure the Eden Trust will be thrilled to have their biomes compared to a wooden car, but it’s the perfect analogy.
The Eden site is a place of substance. It has many wonderful things to do see and do, but more than that, it’s a place that challenges perceptions and made me think twice about how we interact with the world around us. We can all benefit from being reminded how we use and abuse our environment, but Eden goes another step beyond, it showcases the wonders of the natural world and the close proximity of the biomes contributes to the emotional impact of realizing just how beautifully complex our planet really is.
It’s a phenomenal place to visit. Highly recommended.
This travel review is based on a full day visit during December 2015. This article was first published on 7 February 2016.