On Tuesday 25th November, Poppy and I were invited to Kew Gardens, to take part in their special event – ‘Christmas at Kew’.
After the popularity of last year’s event, the UNESCO World Heritage site has decided to open its gates once again, offering a brand new glittering trail. This year, the trail features large –scale light installations, illuminated fountains, a vintage fair ground, and a Christmas village, along with unique food stalls and attractions for the kids, along the way.
Arriving at the main entrance, we were greeted by friendly staff and welcomed to the Gardens.
The idea of the event was to follow a mile-long trail of snowflakes around the gardens, illuminated by beautiful light installations. Wrapped up warm, we began our journey. Upon hearing the jingling of Christmas bells, we excitedly made our way towards a lake, where a light show was about to start. We watched in awe while a combination of fountains, water jets and light allusions – all timed to the music were projected against a magnificent architectural backdrop, with a spot-lit statue standing majestically in the centre.
Now extremely excited, and in festive spirits, we followed the trail onward, past a spectrum of glowing trees, towards the first greenhouse. This stunning piece of architecture was illuminated from the inside, creating unusual shadowy shapes across the glass. However, rather than entering the greenhouse initially, we decided to follow the sounds of some excited people, and came across a small troupe of story-tellers, dressed as fantastical faerie folk. The enthusiasm of the actors had a group of children well-engaged, whilst their parents toasted marshmallows on the hot-coal barbeques surrounding the staging area.
Continuing on the trail, we were lead towards the back entrance of the Princess of Wales Conservatory, whereby we stumbled upon a winter elf named Crystal Snowflake who lead us to Santa’s Grotto, whilst singing a chorus of Christmas songs.
Passing through the Conservatory, we found ourselves amongst a humid rainforest of wonderful and exotic plants. We were able to walk at our leisure, through the different areas and take in the plant life at our own pace. There were a number of knowledgeable guides throughout the greenhouse, on-hand to provide helpful insights about the plant life. Passing through the conservatory, we were offered a delicious mince pie and a choice of either hot chocolate or mulled wine – both were equally appreciated by our chilly hands and hungry tummies!
Moving on from the greenhouse, we came across a series of festive art and light installations. Enclosed in a circular wall of gentle mood lighting, there hung a gigantic sprig of Mistletoe. Both Poppy and I agreed that this was our favourite thing so far.
Next we passed through a series of botanically inspired large-scale installations, created by French design studio TILT, who are renowned for their work at Festival of Lights, in Lyon. Poppy said that they reminded her of an installation she had seen at Bestival – which we later found out was actually correct! This lead us to the ‘White Peaks’ Christmas Village – complete with a Victorian Carousel, a Helter-Skelter and the White Peaks café, there was plenty to enjoy for people of all ages.
After passing through a shimmering tunnel of lights, the snowflake trail led us to a climactic production involving plumes of fire and beams of light, dancing to music inspired by The Nutcracker. This took place in-front of the iconic Palm House, and was certainly something to behold – things don’t get much more Christmassy than this!
Our evening concluded with some tasty treats at the Victoria Plaza – a delicious Hog Roast, with all the trimmings, and another mince pie. We could have spent ages perusing the centre – with their well-stocked shops of traditional fayre; you could have Christmas all-wrapped up with some carefully selected gifts.
Overall the whole experience was truly magical and a perfect start to our Christmas countdown!