This winter, more twinkling and fantastical than ever before, Christmas at Kew returns, inviting visitors to experience the nighttime beauty of a brand new trail, illuminated by over one million lights.
The route will include some incredible showstoppers, such as the recently restored Temperate House – the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world – which will form the canvas for a kaleidoscopic laser show.
A must-do event in the London festive calendar, visitors can expect bursts of colour and enchanting optics as they explore Kew Gardens’ iconic landscape after dark.
A roster of internationally acclaimed artists is set to adorn this newly plotted trail with a feast of art, light and music at every turn.
Myths and magic…
French creative Studio Pitaya is bringing Bifröst to Christmas at Kew, drawing inspiration from the bridge of light in Norse mythology connecting the realm of the living and the realm of gods.
Set at the beginning of the trail, visitors can wander through a tunnel of 20 light arcades, the hypnotic animations bringing them through to the magical landscape beyond.
Also inspired by folklore and legend, Australian studio Mandylights returns to Christmas at Kew with Will o’ the Wisps, also known as ‘fairy fire’ by Welsh travellers, ‘aleya’ by Bengali fishermen, ‘luces del tesoro’ in Mexico and in Australia as the 'Min Min light’. The installation sees six thousand pixel mapped ‘wisp’ forms perform in different ways to reflect their diverse origins - from devilish displays of red mischief, to soft glowing orbs, to explosions of vibrant colour.
Further along the route, visitors can meander through a Fire Garden with enchanted ruby and emerald flames, as pyrotechnic artist Mike Jones brings his spellbinding work to Kew.
A tumbling waterfall and forest of vines…
The centrepiece of this year’s event, Brighton-based ITHACA will bring Waterfalls to Kew’s arboretum.
With four spiralling columns of light cascading from the Treetop Walkway in the canopy above, the mesmerising 10-minute display will captivate visitors with dazzling reflections and a ‘Sea of Light’ at their feet.
In another mirroring of nature, Australian studio Mandylights brings Vines to the trail. A 30-metre-long promenade of LED vines that visitors can walk through, touch and interact with, each vine houses up to 8,000 individual colour-changing pixels, making for an otherworldly immersive experience.
Throughout the trail, Kew’s own natural splendours will feature prominently, highlighting the beauty of nature, and the importance of plants in all our lives. Trees along the route will be illuminated from different angles, allowing visitors to admire their striking winter forms.
Branches will be wrapped with tiny blossom shaped lights to create a sparkling cherry tree walkway, and the Kew Horticulture team’s pea-light-festooned heritage tree will return in all its luminous glory.
The grand finale…
At the final stop, the renowned Palm House finale will await visitors with festive projections playing across a giant screen of water in the centre of the lake, and across the iconic glasshouse itself.
Extra features – Father Christmas, and a brand new food experience
Visitors can find Santa and his helpers on the Temperate House steps entertaining youngsters with ‘The Temperate House Lullaby’, and a mini fairground complete with a helter-skelter will be a perfect stop-off point for little ones. The recently opened Pavilion Bar and Grill will be open for dining, and what’s more, the Botanical restaurant will be serving a special Christmas Dinner, which visitors can pre-book when purchasing tickets.
Visitors can also celebrate Christmas at Kew with Frexinet, who will be serving Cava, Prosecco and Sparkling Rosé in their Winter Garden featuring a selfie arch and twinkling lounge area.
New for this year, street food favourite KERB will bring a delectable variety of local and independent traders to the trail, including award-winning barbeque masters Prairie Fire BBQ, and indulgent cheese toasties by Meltsmiths.
Visitors can treat themselves to something sweet in the shape of churros or festive chocolate-orange brownies from La Churreria and SE Cakery, and to ensure visitors stay warm, the KERB bar will offer mulled wine and spiced rum cocktails, as well as other refreshments.
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