Kew Gardens Christmas is always a highlight in the festive calendar, with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew putting on their annual light show for people throughout the gardens.
This year Kew Gardens Christmas is continuing, although the opening date has been put back, in order to comply with government guidance. We asked Dáire Basra, head of event operations at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, everything you need to know about this year’s light trail. Looking for more garden Christmas light trails? Head to our round up of the best light shows to visit.
Discover everything you need to know about Kew Gardens Christmas
Can you explain what Kew Gardens Christmas is for people who have never been?
Christmas at Kew is a 2.5km route through the gardens at night, with installations from artists across the world. Visitors can expect bursts of colour and enchanting optics as they explore Kew Gardens’ UNESCO World Heritage landscape after dark. The lights are paired with captivating and creative soundtracks. Many of Kew’s iconic buildings are included in the trail, such as the Palm House and the Temperate House – the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world.
We have 16 Christmas installations along the trail this year, each one as breath-taking as the next. There are many new installations and displays, the most notable being the Rose Garden, ‘Lumina’ and a new fire garden. For the first time, the route takes in the historic and magical Kew Rose Garden – when in season, it’s home to 170 different species and cultivars of rose, and at this year’s Christmas at Kew, home to an installation of over 10,000 ‘singing’ roses.
This year’s fire garden is also a brand new installation with over 300 fire heads, in an artistic collaboration with willow artist, Woody Fox, and Australian lighting designers, Mandylights. It includes wicker animals (expect a fox, badger, robins and a squirrel) as well as scores of shimmering polished brass lampshades, fitted to 19 brass ‘trees’. We also have a new show for the Palm House finale, and a stunning new show at the Treetop Walkway, which will bring a Waterfall to Kew’s arboretum, home to 14,000 trees.
What is your favourite element of the Kew Gardens Christmas light trail?
So far this year it’s Lumina, the neon tree installation – an eye-catching, colour-popping installation in which neon light transforms one of Kew Gardens’ trees into a striking sculpture, highlighting its beautiful architectural features and its roots below.
How have the COVID-19 restrictions affected what you’re doing at Kew Gardens?
It has been a difficult year, for everyone. We have been determined to open the trail this year but only if it is safe to do so. We’re blessed with the acres of outdoor space and the layout to perfectly complement social distancing measures. We have worked hard to create comprehensive safety protocols to help our visitors enjoy Christmas at Kew in safety and comfort.