The Summer Festival returns to the Swarovski Crystal Worlds!

Earlier this month, I jumped at the opportunity to visit the Swarovski Crystal Worlds, to attend a flower wreath workshop there. I have been to the Crystal Worlds before, of course, but I was curious how the current Summer Festival amplifies the already sensational ambience.

© Ichia Wu

My Pacific-style wreath! We used crystals to add glamour (and fun). © Ichia Wu

The Beauty and Science of Light

Swarovski is a globally well-known brand and the Swarovski Crystal Worlds is also one-of-a-kind. The mood of its visitors is generally buoyant and lighthearted. It is located in Wattens, the Swarovski group’s mothership, 20km east of Innsbruck; and showcases installations, creations and products inspired by the beauty and science of light. In addition to the Giant — the dazzling indoor exhibition hall – there is a spacious garden with enticing playgrounds and cosy areas perfect for lounging.

© Ichia Wu

Very different effects of Swarovski crystals © Ichia Wu

© Ichia Wu

The Open-Air Cinema in August, offering two screenings per day © Ichia Wu

The Enchanted Garden

I arrived several hours before the flower workshop to properly explore the Summer Festival. This year the festival is titled ‘The Enchanted Garden’, and is curated by British set designer Simon Costin. Therefore, I expected to find theatrical elements such as props, costumes, lighting and audio effects.

The exhibition pays homage to the British classic Alice in Wonderland. The vocabulary of flowers connects the installations inside and around the Giant, hence the flower workshop arranged for us!

© Ichia Wu

An installation in the garden and a hat for the visitors to try on © Ichia Wu

Down the Rabbit Hole

After entering the Giant, the visitors arrive at the Blue Hall, the first Chamber of Wonder. Simon Costin’s exquisite ‘Flower Couture’ is shown here, sharing the space with the works of famous artists such as Keith Haring and Niki de Saint Phalle. The mannequins are like power-dressed Queens claiming this surreal kingdom.

© Ichia Wu

Isn’t one of them the Queen of Hearts? © Ichia Wu

Through the Looking Glass

Deeper into the Giant, the ‘Flower Orchestra’ is now the heart of the Crystal Dome. It is a touch-sensitive sound installation and you can use it to illuminate this radiant space with experimental music.

© Ichia Wu

‘Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There’ © Ichia Wu

© Ichia Wu

The instruction looks more like an invitation. © Ichia Wu

The Mad Hatter

Next to the shop exit, there is this brilliant ‘Flower Selfie Booth’ where you can be photographed wearing flamboyant flower hats. Seeing them, I couldn’t wait to make my own wreath in the workshop!

© Swarovski

Mad Hatter? Designer Simon Costin trying on his own creation © Swarovski Kristallwelten

The Golden Afternoon

The 2D flower boards in front of the Giant remind me of layered Victorian paper theatres. Similar elements are used in a 3D way to construct the Flower Pavilion and its outline echoes with the mountains.

© Ichia Wu

The outline of the pavilion echoes with the mountains. © Ichia Wu

Under the glistening Crystal Cloud, there is a dynamic ‘Water (and fire) Show’ every 15 minutes in the Mirror Pool with music flowing through the air. I did hang out quite a bit in this area on a sunlounger. It was a blazing hot day and the sound and the visual effect of water were soothing.

© Ichia Wu

The water show takes place under the Crystal Cloud. © Ichia Wu

British Humour

There is probably a whole village of glittering gnomes scattered in the Enchanted Garden. Some invite you to their tiny greenhouses and some watch the Water Show with you. They play similar roles to the Caterpillar or the March Hare in Alice’s Wonderland, except the enormous gnome in the centre of the hedge maze. He has a glorious name – Oberon — and is the legendary king of all fairies. Just like the author of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, the curator here plays with the relativity of scale.

© Ichia Wu

The oversized Oberon is in the background. © Ichia Wu

© Ichia Wu

I have a soft spot for garden gnomes probably due to the French film ‘Amélie’ (2001) in which a gnome gets to travel the world. © Ichia Wu

Advice from a Caterpillar

As for the CENTERPIECE of this Summer Festival, it is of course you, Alice – I mean, you, the visitor. I had this light-bulb moment at the end of the flower workshop. After we put the final touch on our wreaths, we proudly wore them for a brisk walk in the garden. Surprisingly, this theatrical costume transformed me from the audience to the lead character! I instantly felt that I played a part in the Enchanted Garden.

© Ichia Wu

Some elves in the Enchanted Garden; sighting not guaranteed © Ichia Wu

Therefore, to make the most out of this Summer Festival experience, my suggestion is: be in character. Feel special! Wear or accessorize yourself with something fabulous as a reminder when you roll out your own story in the Enchanted Garden. The stage is ready and all yours.

© Ichia Wu

Just feeling fabulous in my shiny dungarees © Ichia Wu

Further Notes on the Swarovski Crystal Worlds

  • ‘The Enchanted Garden’ is the second Summer Festival presented by Swarovski. Last year, it was the brainchild of Indian fashion designer Manish Arora. He also redesigned one of the four Chambers of Wonder revealed last November. His vibrant ‘Ready to Love‘ turned a very tricky space into a glamorous Chamber. These four Chambers might be new to you, too, if your last visit to the Swarovski Crystal Worlds was before last November.
© Ichia Wu

‘Ready to Love’, designed by Indian fashion designer Manish Arora © Ichia Wu

  • What if you visit in winter? Then you’ll have a chance to see the magical Light Festival!
  • The splendid shop is like the ground floor of a chic department store, except that all the products are from a single group, Swarovski. The richness of the selection is astonishing! Simon Costin also designed the mannequins in the shop. They wear bejewelled flower costumes and are integrated with Dutch School flower paintings.
    © Ichia Wu

    Some souvenirs from the Summer Festival © Ichia Wu

    © Ichia Wu

    Two flowery costumes designed by Simon Costin © Ichia Wu

  • The flower workshop I attended is not a regular programme but Swarovski does offer other workshops for various age groups. To get creative with Swarovski crystals, more information can be found here (in German).
  • The shuttle bus between Innsbruck and Wattens is really convenient. The return ticket of the Crystal Worlds Shuttle and the entry to the Swarovski Crystal Worlds are included in the Innsbruck Card. There is free WiFi on the bus and the password is right under the WiFi symbol on the poster.

    © Ichia Wu

    I got on the bus at the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) in Innsbruck. The journey was very swift! © Ichia Wu

  • There is also free WiFi in the Swarovski Crystal Worlds for you to access their digital guide on your own device.
  • You will need to scan your ticket in two occasions during the visit, as there are separated entrances to the Giant and the outdoor area.
  • The Summer festival: ‘The Enchanted Garden’ is held in the Swarovski Crystal Worlds from 1 July to 31 August 2018 (8:30 -22:00 daily).