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Christmas at Kew Gardens

There is no doubt that the Kew Gardens has its natural charm year-round.

But when it is Christmas time, nothing can match the illuminating beauty of the Kew Gardens in London.

The iconic Royal Botanical Garden transforms into a mesmerizing spectacle of lights, art installations, and festive cheer.

Father Christmas comes down at Kew, dancing in lakeside reflections, adorning the trees, creating extravagant visions in fire and water. 

There is hardly a better place to seal a kiss under the mistletoe!

This article covers everything about Christmas at Kew Gardens.

What to expect at Christmas at Kew Gardens

Watch the gardens come alive with a spectacular illuminated trail featuring mesmerizing light installations and decorations, and stroll through the enchanting setting. 

Witness the iconic architecture and landscapes of the gardens, which provide a stunning backdrop as the entire place is decked up in holiday-themed decorations. 

Encounter live performances and joyful melodies that fill the air with Christmas spirit. 

Delicious independent street food vendors will be along the illuminated route to provide mouthwatering Christmas fare, ranging from spiced winter warmers and hot food to sweet desserts.

Learn all about Entrances at Kew. 

How long is the trail

The Christmas at Kew trail lasts for 3 km (1.86 miles) and takes around two hours to complete.

The route is on pathways, although the terrain can vary in different Garden areas.

Please notify one of the stewards if you or any members of your party are experiencing any problems. 

They will try their best to assist you and may be able to provide you with shortcut routes to the exit.

The trail usually includes Victoria Gate and Elizabeth Gate.

Attractions in the Christmas at Kew Trail

One Small Thing Initiative

Kew Gardens shows an unparalleled commitment to environmental protection. 

The One Small Thing initiative encourages visitors to make small changes in that direction.

The illustrations and messages align with Kew’s mission to safeguard plants and fungi. 

This initiative adds a thoughtful and sustainable touch to the festive light trail.

The Hive

The Hive is a 17-meter contemporary art installation connected to a live bee colony. 

This mesmerizing display of over 1000 LED lights synchronized with a soundscape provides a unique blend of art and nature.

Lili by TILT

Witness the UK debut of Lili, a series of 3-meter-tall illuminated flowers created by TILT. 

These abstract flowers add an artistic touch to the festive ambiance, creating a visually stunning experience for visitors.

Light Installations Along Camellia Walk

Take a magical stroll along Camellia Walk, surrounded by more than 400 cascading lights. 

Trapezoid, one of the longest light tunnels at Kew Gardens, offers a captivating experience with neon backdrops suspended from the tree canopy.

Pitaya’s Spark Ballet and Candles

Experience the enchanting Spark Ballet featuring 24 lanterns that appear to dance in the air with subtly sparkling lights. 

Floating candles along tree-lined passageways add a touch of magic reminiscent of the Harry Potter world.

Christmas Cathedral and Fire Garden

Explore Kew’s Christmas Cathedral, a twinkling tunnel inspired by church windows. 

Follow the path of over 300 candles lighting up the Fire Garden, leading to the Temperate House, a Victorian glasshouse that transforms into a glowing glass cathedral.

Palm House

The Palm House has breathtaking light displays dancing across it. 

LED lights seemingly ‘float’ on the lake’s surface, accompanied by a playlist of cherished Christmas classics, creating a nostalgic experience.

For more eventful attractions in Kew Gardens, check out the Treetop Walkway and Children’s Garden at Kew.

The Christmas Schedule & Timings

Christmas at Kew runs from 15 November to 7 January.

It is open on the following dates:

  • 15 November to 19 November
  • 22 November to 26 November
  • 28 November to 3 December
  • 5 December to 24 December
  • 26 December 2023 to 7 January

Christmas at Kew operating hours are from 4.20 pm to 10 pm.

Food and drinks

Along the trail, you can also find independent street food vendors offering a variety of flavorful foods and winter warmers.

Make your Christmas at Kew memorable with a traditional dinner at The Botanical Brasserie before or after you take the trail.

Enjoy seasonal delights like celeriac, truffle soup, Mushroom Wellington, turkey ballotine, etc.

You can choose from ample options that suit all tastes. 

Indoor catering facilities are only available at the Victoria Plaza Cafe (near Victoria Gate)  and the family Kitchen (near Brentford Gate). 

All other catering options are outdoors. 

Besides, there are several restaurants at Kew Gardens for you to dig in!

What to wear

While you should deservedly give in to the Christmas spirit with your favorite Christmas wardrobe, please make sure you wear proper clothing and footwear for the weather, as there are no sheltered areas along the trail, and the walkways can get wet.

Although the route is well-lighted, there will be dimly lit sections, so you might want to pack a torch.

Candles, night lights, flares, and lanterns are examples of naked flames that are not permitted.

Trail Map

Christmas at Kew Gardens Trial Map
Image: kew.org

Restrooms across the Trail 

The Kew Gardens are well equipped with drinking water outlets and toilets.

  • Drinking Water and Restroom near the Brentford Gate
  • Drinking Water and Restroom at the Family Kitchen and Shop
  • Drinking water and Restroom at the Orangery
  • Drinking water and Restroom at the Victoria Cafe
  • Drinking water and Restroom at the Botanical Brasserie.
  • Drinking water and Restroom at Kerb Food Village

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Christmas at Kew depends on various factors. If you want to explore the trail more, go as early as possible, i.e., at 4.20 pm.

Weekdays have relatively smaller crowds, so it is a better option if you prefer a peaceful outing. 

Remember, completing the trail takes almost two hours, so plan accordingly.

The last entry to the Christmas at Kew varies depending on the entrance: 

  • Brentford Gate: 7 pm
  • Elizabeth Gate: 7.20 pm
  • Victoria Plaza: 8 pm

Disability Access

Kew Gardens presents Christmas in its natural setting.

Wheelchairs and service dogs are allowed.

Even while every attempt is taken to ensure that the trail is completely accessible, it will inevitably pass through some challenging terrain with a variety of uneven gradients. 

Bad weather can make some regions difficult to navigate.

Balance bikes and children’s scooters are not allowed on the trail.

Wheelchairs cannot be reserved; anyone can borrow them on a first-come-first-served basis. 

How to get there 

From Elizabeth Gate

You can reach this entrance either by bus or by river commute. It is up to you to decide which transport option suits you better.

By Bus

The bus stop Kew Green (Stop A) (Bus No: 65, 110, and N65) is a 5-minute walk from the Elizabeth gate. 

The Musical Museum bus sop (Stop U) (Bus No: 237, 267, and N9), is a 10-minute walk from the Elizabeth gate. 

By Boat 

Elizabeth Gate’s proximity to the Thames makes transportation by boat very convenient for visitors. 

Thames River Boats offers a special service from Westminster Pier to Kew Pier. 

Elizabeth gate entrance is only a 0.2-mile walk from the Kew Pier.

By Bicycle

Put on Google Maps and navigate to the Elizabeth Gate at Kew Garden. 

Bicycle racks are available at all four gates, but bicycle parking is at your own risk. 

At Elizabeth Gate, the racks are inside the gates behind the booths.

From Brentford Gate

By Car/Bike

Put on Google Maps and navigate to the Car Park at Ferry Lane. 

The Brentford Gate adjoins the car park.

Bicycle racks are available at all four gates, but bicycle parking is at your own risk. 

Please note: There is very limited parking at Kew, and spots are available in the car park on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you intend to drive to Kew, please make advance arrangements since the Kew Gardens cannot guarantee a spot in the parking lot.

Check out parking around Kew Gardens to know more.

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This article was researched & written by

Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

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