Review of 'Christmas at Kew 2016'

http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/christmas-at-kew-2016

After last year's Christmas at Kew we definitely wanted to return to see the wonderful lights at Kew. It is a bit more expensive this year at £18 per person but still well worth a visit. This is becoming a bit of a Christmas tradition now for us, I would guess and it is certainly a highlight of the London Christmas season.

Wreath on the Gate

We visited early on a cool Sunday evening along with, it seems, most of the young families in the city. The trail this year is slightly different and the displays are, of course, also different. After arriving through Victoria gate we were welcomed onto the trail with “singing trees”, lit up with synchronized Christmas lights of course, on either side of the trail.

Victoria Gate

The first big display is of a field of lit bulbs at about chest level equally spaced in a grid around the path. Listening carefully you can hear a light modern music playing with the lights changing through various pastel colours beautifully.

Bulbs

The next display was certainly the highlight for us from last year and that is the “Garden of Fire” which this year was in the form of five rings of fire pots representing each of the first five days in the “12 Days of Christmas” song (“five gold rings”, “four calling birds”…). This was not quite as spectacular or as amazing as the random placing of the plots last year under the trees…oddly relaxing. This year was a bit more formal but not as good as last year – Still spectacular to look at.

Garden of Fire

Next up was “heart of stars” - A heart-shaped disco ball rotating in the trees with wonderful sparkles visible everywhere. Along the side of the path the trees are lit up in different colours and often decorated as well. In some ways this is the highlight of the show as it is so peaceful and celebrating the beauty of the Kew tree collection.

Decorated Trees

The “tunnel of lights” - a tunnel that the path passes through decorated with musically synchronised lights - was repeated again this year set to a wonderful soundtrack of classical music. This year's children's entertainment was in the form of an elf-DJ playing Christmas songs on the side of the path - “Kew Juke Box”. This was a bit of fun and the DJ certainly was encouraging everyone to sing along.

This was the half way point of the trail where an area is set up with various fair ground rides: A carousel, a helter-skelter (spiral slide shaped like a light house), old-style wooden swings, and a small car ride for the really young. This is also the site of one of the gift shops which was doing a good trade along with a buffet-style restaurant. Around the rides are various food and drink marquees but nothing here was of great interest to us - Mulled wine, hamburgers, hog roast, hot chocolate, etc.

Carousel

Last year there was a large area of giant plastic lit flowers but this year it was simply a number of large white crystals sticking out of the ground. Passing by the lit “Hive” (see The Hive Lates that we attended earlier this year) which was not open to visitors to going inside (much more interesting at night, as we saw earlier) but it was open underneath. At this point we were in another communal area where they were selling marshmallows that you could roast over fire pits that were set up and you could visit a water garden lit up very prettily that people were throwing coins into…

Candles

A field of beautiful candles were set up just outside the lit “Princess of Wales Conservatory” very well done. On the other side of the conservatory was the Santa show which was entertaining the children.

Santa Show

The highlight has to be the light show at the Palm House which ended the trail. Watching from the south side of the lake beside the building the show is a combination of lasers, lights, water (jets of water on which the lights are projected) and music. This year's display was particularly good - Much more spectacular with a lot of people stopping to watch the 15-minute (or so) show. Quite incredible.

Back at Victoria Gate there are a number of stalls to eat at and the large main gift show was doing a great business…

Another really great year of Christmas at Kew that is well worth a visit. A number of very young children seemed to get quite bored after the first few big displays and the second half of the trail does not really have any big light displays to keep them entertained (and quite disappointing) - The trail is more than a mile long so it can be quite a long visit for the young ones.

My personal opinion is that I think the lights are best enjoyed quietly and leisurely with a loved one on your arm…Not so much with the kids (at least, not if you want to enjoy the peace and quiet of the park in winter). The most spectacular and wonderful light display in London, well worth the visit out to Richmond on the District line…


Please find some pictures from our visit below…Hopefully have a video of our display uploaded to YouTube shortly.

 

Rating:

Review Date: 2016-12-18



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”.