YORK’S Museum Gardens will be transformed into a “magical wonderland” when the Illuminating York Festival returns this autumn – assisted by comedian Vic Reeves.

Three large-scale cutting edge projections will light up the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, the Yorkshire Museum and part of the City Walls as part of the York 800 celebrations.

Organisers said Vic Reeves, who is an artist as well as a top TV comic, has been “given free-rein to unleash his absurd and magical creations”.

A spokeswoman said that, inspired by absurdist works such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Reeves and partners Bright White Ltd, Chetwoods and Arup, would be “creating a new world that turns the expected upside down and revels in the beauty of the unexpected”.

The ten acres of gardens will also be brought to life using innovative lighting around trees and plants, through a new partnership with Blackpool Council, who have allowed the creative team to borrow many core items from their enormous store of lighting technology.

There will, however, be a charge for the first time for such an event.

A spokeswoman said such a hugely ambitious project had cost implications. She said: “It is for this reason that we have introduced a ticket price of £5 per adult. We have also reduced the impact this will have on families by charging six to 16 year olds £1 and under fives will get in free.”

She said ticketing the event would allow staff to monitor the number of people in the gardens, creating a relaxed environment.

Coun Sonja Crisp , City of York Council ’s culture cabinet member, said: “The scale and ambition of this year’s festival will be truly spectacular. We have never attempted anything this big before and after seeing the plans I can’t wait to see the gardens transformed into a magical and surreal experience right here in the centre of York.”

The festival will take place between Wednesday, October 31, and Saturday, November 3, from 6.30pm to 10.30pm. Tickets will go on sale from Monday at the Theatre Royal box office.