Last Updated on November 20, 2021
Christmas at Kew returns for the 9th year!
Christmas at Kew returns for its ninth year as a much-loved highlight of London’s festive calendar. After Christmas was cancelled last year due to COVID, I was very much ready to enjoy all the festive activities this year. If you walk around the streets of central London, there are no shortages of Christmas lights and festive decorations. However, Kew’s Christmas trail is probably the best festive walk I’ve taken so far.
This year’s trail features a host of firm seasonal favourites alongside pioneering new light installations which illuminate Kew Gardens’ UNESCO World Heritage landscape with vibrant bursts of colour and contains over a million twinkling lights. For a first time visitor to Christmas at Kew, the result is a magical seasonal experience that makes you feel like you’re in your very own Christmas fairytale.
The trail starts off with a lot of white bright stars, including a giant sparkling star with smoke coming out which makes the experience seem slightly surreal. It’s followed by a series of illuminated trees which highlights the magic of nature. Along Temperate House, a new and ambitious installation called Aurora illuminates the night sky like the enchanting visual phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis. Light projections map onto Temperate House to music, making it seem like the house is partying.
There is also a fairground area located at the rear of Temperate house which includes rides like Vintage Carousel, Helter Skelter, Swing Boats and a Car and Train ride exclusively for smaller children. I was too scared to go up on the Helter Skelter for fear of slipping due to the light drizzle before, but the Vintage Carousel and Swing Boats made my inner child so happy. Tokens are available for £3 each on the night or for pre-booking to collect on the night at 6 tokens for £15.
There is also a Kerb Food Village located next to the fairground where you can buy some Indian street food, cheese toasties, burgers and jerk chicken. You can also fill up on mulled wine or hot chocolate at the same time, but these mulled wine stalls are plentiful throughout the trail. Before exiting the market, you can also meet Santa Claus.
The mood of the trail then takes a romantic turn with a nicely decorated Christmas tree and some benches surrounded by fairy lights and a mistletoe above, giving your date an excuse to kiss you under the mistletoe. My very cheeky significant other stopped under all three mistletoes as he said it was part of the trail and it was fairly quiet when we were at that part. If you feel like having a cozy moment by the fire post smooch, there is also an area where you can buy marshmallows and roast them over a fire.
Afterwards, the displays get more exciting as you pass through a fire garden and an area with rope structures illuminated in neon colours. Passing over the bridge, you will be right at the heart of Spheric, a show-stopping dome of lights suspended over a reflective pool of water. It was truly a mesmerizing moment for me.
On the other side of the bridge, more illuminated trees and projections onto trees await. There is also a sea of illuminated structures in the shape of Christmas trees and a Christmas Cathedral, which is a dome-shaped installation that you pass through composed of thousands of fairy lights, perfect for your Christmas selfie.
As you make your way back to Victoria gate, you can stop by Freixenet’s Winter Terrace to enjoy a glass of fizz to celebrate the fact that you are almost finished with the trail and don’t have much more walking to do. Finally, a big finale awaits in front of the Botanical Brasserie in the form of an amazing light and water show to Christmas tunes facing Palm House. The light show was very entertaining and I felt like it was a mini Las Vegas performance because it was very impressive.
The trail is approximately 2.6km long and takes an estimated 75 minutes to walk. My own experience took nearly 2 hours because we stopped a few times to get some drinks, used the toilets mid-trail and experienced some fairground rides. There are opportunities to buy drinks, food and sit down to relax throughout and the entire route is designed so that it can be viewed from the pathways. If you want to experience the magic of Christmas all in one evening, I suggest you check out Christmas at Kew.
Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE
020 8332 5655