Review of 'Christmas at Kew 2019'

https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/whats-on/christmas

It is hard to believe the last time we visited “Christmas at Kew” was in 2016. This annual event sees Kew Gardens opening in the evening, transformed with a trail through the gardens taking you from one festive light installation to another. What was particularly notable about this year's display is the introduction of music throughout in addition to several amazing new displays. Sadly, unless you have a ticket already you will be unable to attend as this year's show running from November 20th to January 5th is already sold out.

Trail Welcome Tunnel

All tickets are for entry at a particular time with the last entry at 8 pm and the event closing at 10 pm allowing a good amount of time to take in the 1 mile trail. The 2019 trail is new taking in different parts of the park including the “Treetop Walkway”, but more about that below…

The night we visited followed quite a significant rain storm in the area so it was quite wet and cold but the cleaner air that tends to follow rain meant the colours of the display really popped out, glistening off the wet. The organisers advise to be dressed for the weather including wearing sensible shoes though there are plastic mats set out the grass portions of the trail to keep visitor's feet reasonably dry.

KERB Vendors

After scanning your ticket and the obligatory bag checks at the main Kew Gardens entrance at Victoria Gate there are a number of food vendors set up selling…actual food, an improvement over previous years where the eating options were limited to snacks only. The food on offer is by the KERB street vendors. At Victoria gate the options include meatballs, churros, hot dogs and pies (with mash and gravy) though there are more vendors half way along the trail behind the Temperate House (along with a number of children's fair ground rides) and a more formal dinner menu (reservations only) at “The Botanical” (on the far side of the lake in front of the Palm House). As might be expected, there are drinks available all along the trail (which you can now carry with you as you stroll).

Though street food, the quality is very good and the variety here is excellent, refreshing from typical burger and chips options at other events. It is not cheap by any means and note that none of the vendors accept cash…this is a card-only event.

Let us take a stroll…

Garden

There are a number of new light displays for 2019 including a light tunnel featuring light patterns synchronised to music.

Tunnel

The “Temperate House”, visited early on the trail, features a laser light show projected onto the structure of the building, again, synchronised to music.

Temperate House Laser Show

There are some familiar displays from previous years including the static white light tunnel which is still stunning despite it's simplicity.

Light Tunnel

The fire garden this year features green, red and yellow flames which always entrance though the display this year is significantly smaller than in previous years. There is still something magical with the natural light (and slight heat for the wet visitors during our visit).

Fire Garden

More simplicity in the red lights in the cherry trees leading to the back of the Temperate House.

Cherry Trees

There is a fun fair featuring rides for children and another collection of the KERB food vendors, here including pizza, burgers, brownies, toasties and “steak n' chips”.

Carousel

The most spectacular display has to be “Waterfall” which encompasses Kew's “Treetop Walkway”. The 18 meter high circular walkway has strings of lights cascading down and an additional mat of lights on the ground. All of the lights operate independently and are synchronised to a musical soundtrack. The best view is from along the railing on the inside of the walkway where you are surrounding by the beautiful display.

Waterfall - Inside

The strings of lights include strips of plastic that rustle in the wind sounding for all the world like water really adding to the feeling of a waterfall. Note that this is a particularly crowded section of the trail with most stopping for a good amount of time.

Outside

A new display looking for all the world like a series of mushrooms randomly arranged around trees along a stretch of the path is quite magical complete with,suitably, the music from “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”.

Mushrooms

The next part of the trail features several “selfie heaven” displays that allow you to get into the displays themselves so you can fill your social network feed up…as if you hadn't been taking loads of pictures already! The neon here is brilliant and it works very well in pictures.

Abstract Art

The holly bushes behind the Palm House are back with each of the bushes playing different parts of choral music with lights flickering to the glorious melodies. I have to say though simple this is one of my favourite parts of the event every year and every time we visit we pause for a while to take it in.

The final display is, as always, the light display on the Palm House with a fountain featuring a sheet of water used as a projection screen. This is quite a bit more advanced from the earlier years of the event with the 10 minute show now including video, lasers and an amazing soundtrack.

Light Show

To stand on the (rather crowded) viewing platform at the end of the lake watching the lights on the Palm House, the spectacle of the fountain and the music is really quite special – It is worth being patient and making your way to the front of the platform to be fully immersed.

Happy Christmas

The “Christmas at Kew” event really has come a long way and is now a firm favourite for festive cheer in the Christmas season. Having skipped the event for several years because it seemed to change very little with long gaps between displays, and little music, the event now is a much more immersive and entertaining event.

Though a bit pricey, it is definitely worth a visit – Be sure to book (!) an early slot and take your time as you make your way around the trail – Relax and enjoy.

Some more pictures from our visit…

 

Rating:

Review Date: 2019-12-12



Kew Gardens

Location: London (England)

Address: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB

Public Transport: NRLOGO Kew Gardens TUBE Kew Gardens

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8332 5655

URL: http://www.kew.org/

Wonderful place to visit with extensive gardens as well as the famous pagoda, the lake, and greenhouse with a very long history. The new treetop walk is also a great thing to do. Worth spending a good amount of time just wandering around - A day well spent.

There are a number of annual events held here including the Orchid Festival, “Kew the Music”, “Write on Kew” and,“Christmas at Kew”.