As part of embracing the season of giving, the Durban Botanic Garden’s inaugural Festive Trail of Lights is giving visitors the chance to explore the “magically” festive environment after dark, while supporting a range of charities at the same time.

KwaZulu-Natal-based charities involved in the event, hosted an array of kiddie friendly activities such as cupcake-making, face painting, pony rides and fun games.

The outdoor event is giving people the opportunity to spend time together as families.

The Durban Botanic Gardens ‘Festive Trail of Lights’ gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy food in the garden while the children are meeting a range of magical Xmas characters, including Santa.

The visitors were enchanted by the after-dark environment that the Durban garden provides, saying it had completely captured the spirit of the festive season, one of the visitors saying, “Everything is wonderful here it’s really beautiful I think they captured the Xmas spirit.”

Among the charities on hand in the garden was LikhoniThemba.

The non-governmental organisation provides assistance to vulnerable children and their families across KwaZulu-Natal.

Founder Kim Brown, says their house of love and hope looks after abandoned, neglected and orphaned babies until they are adopted or united with their biological families.

“We have a home for abandoned kids in uMbilo where we are looking after babies until they are adopted or reunited with their biological parents, we got a project that supports informal creche’s we have feeding schemes that take place once per month. We look after six children at a time we have been doing this for six years. We had looked after about 48 of them for the past six years.”

Another charity represented in the park was Feeding the Furballs.

The organisation is raising much needed funds for injured and orphaned animals that include dogs and monkeys.

Founder Farrah Maharaj says their volunteer group takes care of animals in need.

“We sterilise animals for people who cannot afford running programmes and outreach programmes to lower income areas to help there and take care for animals. Unfortunately Xmas is the difficult time for animals and people. We are seeing a flood of that happening , we are prepared to meet the challenges head on and we are fundraising tonight for this very cause. We partner with vets and other feeding schemes to rural areas and those who have no access to that.”

The Trail of Lights will be on every evening and will go on throughout the weekend to bring smiles to people’s faces as they prepare for Christmas celebrations.

Many say the event empowers communities with much-needed information about how non-governmental organisations and charities operate, thereby instilling the spirit of giving.