The Kelpies in the Helix Park are open to the public from Monday 21st April . This Friday will see a stunning night-time artworks exhibition on the theme of Scotland as HOME with spectacular light, sound and flame display, by Groupe F, around Andy Scott’s iconic new cultural landmark.
A spectacular night-time arts event called HOME will launch both the opening of the John Muir Way and the international launch of The Kelpies prior to their opening to the public on the 21st April. On two evenings, 17th and 18th April, a selection of one-off, specially-commissioned night-time artworks will illuminate Helix Park, as thousands gather round the iconic Kelpies for an extraordinary animation of the colossal 300 tonne, 30 metre-high sculptures backed by a pulsating soundtrack.
Groupe F – the pyrotechnic maestros who worked at Big in Falkirk as well as the Millennium illumination of the Eiffel Tower – will bring the monuments to horse-powered heritage to life with a dazzling light, flame and sound performance
The celebration marks the start of a series of exciting John Muir Festival events taking place over nine days. A list of all the fantastic events on offer can be found on the John Muir Festival website.The Helix Park in Grangemouth covers a greenspace of almost 300 hectares. Opening up Scotland’s canal network, the Helix will also offer an outdoor recreational area filled with woodland, park, watersports lagoon, pathways, cycleways, and the hugely anticipated 30m landmark scupltures, the Kelpies.
Funding was provided by the Big Lottery Fund Living Landmarks programme. In 2005 the Helix project was awarded one of the top four prizes, which kick-started the £43 million project. The plans include a new 950-yard (870 m) section of canal, which joins the river below the four fixed bridges at a new sea lock. A new bridge under the M9 motorway has been constructed by cut and cover methods, and a lift bridge has been inserted into the A905 road. Two high-pressure oil pipelines which cross the area to feed the refinery at Grangemouth have been re-routed
The aim of the project is to transform under-used land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a thriving urban greenspace , “The Helix”. This includes a performance area, on which large scale events can be held, facilities for watersports provided by the construction of a large lagoon, all surrounded by play areas and high quality pathways. Access around The Helix will be provided by 27 kilometres (17 mi) of cycleways and footpaths.
Questions have been raised about the return on investment for the project . The Kelpies will be a major tourist attraction in the same way the Falkirk Wheel is , but with no cafe or restaurant facilities visitors may spend little or nothing in the area . The performance area, which could host large scale events , has potential to bring in revenue to the area , although it is not clear just how much . Callendar Park used to host the Big in Falkirk music and arts festival . Recently Falkirk stadium has hosted concerts by Elton John and Rod Stewart .
The final element of the Helix is giant new playpark. A set of giant wooden tepee-like structures making up the adventure zone will tower over the park.
Falkirk Council has signed off the £377,000 tender for the playpark .
Councillors were told the Helix Park is considered a “destination” for play and the design had to show it could cope with a large volume of use from children aged from three to 14, be as iconic as the park itself and the Kelpies, use materials in keeping with the park which were also durable and be innovative.
Rhona Geisler, director of development services, said: “This will be one of the prime play areas in Scotland and it is expected to be widely used.
“There was a lot of community consultation and feedback about what would be required.
“This product has been selected because of durability and is expected to last for 40 years.”
She added it is hoped the project, which is being part-funded by sportscotland, will be a “great” attraction for youngsters.