When you’ve had enough of the hassles of Christmas shopping, dash to Kew to put a spring back in your Christmas step.
If you’re weary of the rampant commercialism of the high street, Kew Gardens will rekindle your sense of festive wonder – and leave you with a Christmas grin from ear to ear.
The charm of Kew Gardens has always been its invitation to enter a different world.
With the launch of Kew’s Christmas lights trail, that world is now positively magical, a thoroughly enchanting trip to somewhere very special indeed – a world of colour and imagination, but importantly, a world which still draws its inspiration from the gardens themselves.
Kew promises that as twilight falls, the magic begins… and they are right.
After the roaring success of the last three years, Kew has once again teamed up with entertainment promoter Raymond Gubbay Ltd. The results are simply breathtaking.
The temperature seemed to plummet on Saturday night when we went, but the experience is one which warms you through and through.
Running until Monday, January 2, Christmas at Kew runs from 5pm-10pm (timed entries between 5pm-8.15pm) – your invitation to embark on a mile-long illuminated trail, a veritable explosion of Christmas colour featurning more than 60,000 lights which sparkle and entrance in the darkness.
Two giant Christmas trees festooned with ribbon welcome you and lead you on to the first of the night’s two great highlights: a carpet of light, gently swaying like blossom in the breeze, made up of a whopping 1,700-delicately flickering lights. Time stands still here. It’s difficult to drag yourself away. It is beautiful. Genuinely beautiful.
Next up is the scented Fire Garden inspired by Five Gold Rings from The Twelve Days of Christmas. Again, there is enchantment here, just as there in the Tunnel of Lights, a short walkway animated by a staggering 63,000 pixels creating patterns and pictures.
Also en route you will find a glittering Crystal Tree dripping with giant illuminated crystals, twelve colour-changing reeds rising high into the night sky, and seventy five pulsating crystal flowers scattered across the ground creating a shimmering crystal lawn.
And if you start to feel the chill, mulled wine, hot chocolate, marshmallows and roasting chestnuts will help you along the way. The garden challenges itself to “Top that!” at every turn – and does so, finishing with the perfect flourish.
The Palm House Pond burst into life with an explosion of brightly-coloured laser beams, streams of light and flickering orbs that dance in time to Christmas classics – the perfect way to round off a wonderful hour and a half or so away from absolutely everything.
You will come out refreshed and ready for Christmas. Forget Black Friday and all the attendant horrors of rampant commercial greed; Christmas at Kew will lift the soul – and just at the moment, that seems the best Christmas present any of us could possibly wish for.
Christmas at Kew admission:
Adult – £18 peak / £16 off peak
Family – £52 peak /£48 off peak
Child 4 – 6 £10
Under 4s free
Pre-paid parking at Brentford Gate £7 to be booked with ticket/time slot
Day tickets can be purchased for an additional £7, at the time of booking the trail
Opens at 5pm - on the dates below:
Wednesday 30 November – Sunday 4 December
Wednesday 7 December – Sunday 11 December
Wednesday 14 December – Friday 23 December
Monday 26 December – Monday 2 January
Timed entrance every half hour between 5pm and 8.15pm
Choose your entry gate
This year there are two entry gates. The main entrance is Victoria Gate. However, limited pre-paid parking (booked in advance) is available at Kew’s Ferry Lane car park in conjunction with entry at Brentford Gate. Book at www.kew.org/christmas, 0844 995 9675.
Christmas daytime offer
At Kew’s daytime Christmas workshops, visitors will be able to make rustic Christmas crafts from natural materials collected in the Gardens, before setting off on Kew’s Winter Walks and admiring the beauty of the Gardens during this enchanting season. There will also be the chance to catch a ride on Kew’s Victorian Carousel and helter skelter outside White Peaks Café. Workshops as well as other festive activities are included in the entry price and offered on a first come first serve basis.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world.
Kew Gardens is a major international and a top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst, attract over 1.5 million visits every year.
Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009.
Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately just under half of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.
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