Christmas At Kew: Festive And Full Of Lights
If you’ve never been to Christmas at Kew, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised. If you haven’t been to Kew Gardens before the event, you’re going to be awestruck. Suzanne Pathmanathan and Shashia Mitchell from The London Pass’ content team had the pleasure of experiencing this incredible attraction, for the first time, at its most magical. From its illuminated woodland creatures to its trailing vines of light, here’s what they thought of this incredible event first-hand.
What’s the journey to Kew Gardens like?
Suzanne: After bouncing around excitedly in our office chairs for the best part of the day, we couldn’t wait to start our journey. But the November tubes had proven to be busier than normal, so we left the office early to avoid rush-hour. Because of the head start, our trip up was comparatively dreamy. I also didn’t realise an actual Kew Gardens Station existed until last week, so that was nice. From the station, the Gardens are signposted and really easy to find.
What’s the first thing you see when you’re there?
Shashia: We were met at the gates with beaming smiles and pleasant greetings from the Kew Gardens staff. Within minutes I could see why. The delicious smell of food from various vendors filled the air: churros, hot dogs, mince pies, and so much more. We were drawn to the mulled wine, which kept our hands warm as we admired the Temperate House shimmering in the background. Then we made our way through a giant arch with the words ‘Welcome to Kew’ twinkling across it, and a rush of excitement hit me.
Great story. Did you guys make it in?
Suzanne: Yes. And if you think that was good, wait until you hear the rest.
Can’t wait to hear the re...
Shashia: I’m not one for crowds. I was once nearly hit by a Christmas light hanging from a lamp post near Oxford Street. That moment - along with the endless people rushing about the streets, trying to make last-minute purchases - summed up why I’m now more inclined to shop online for Christmas. There isn’t much opportunity to pause and enjoy the lights; to lift your spirit; to feel like it’s ‘finally Christmas’. Hand on heart, Christmas at Kew, filled me with an excitement I haven’t felt in years.
Nice. How did you find the after-dark trail?
Suzanne: Very easy to follow. To celebrate its seventh year, the gardens winter trail took a new route, framed by bejewelled winter trees and spotlight laser projections. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find a photo-worthy scene, so make sure you come with a fully-charged phone battery or a camera with enough space on the SD card to cope with your mad snapping. Also, like the name suggests, the trail is dark despite its illuminations. A lot of people were there with their families, so if young ones ran a bit further ahead, they were always visible, but keep a hold of hands or toddler leads if you’re coming with young kids.
What were your highlights of Christmas at Kew Gardens?
Shashia: For me, it was when I heard the beginnings of ‘Once Upon a December’ from Anastasia. It was one of my favourite films as a child, so the song caught my attention instantly. At that moment, a wave of light revealed dozens of illuminated mushrooms pulsing in time to the music. It felt magical - as if I’d been transported back to my youth. I wanted to absorb everything I was seeing, hearing and feeling, until the song came to a close and the mystical mushrooms dimmed to darkness once more. Suzanne: The cascading curtain of lights that fell from the Treetop Walkway and the light and water show on Palm House Pond; an innovative spectacle and the event’s finale for a reason. [embed]https://youtu.be/2vj9zItVT34[/embed]
Suzanne: I was a bit disappointed that one of the stalls in the street food area had run out of food by the time we’d gotten to the end of the trail. We’d gotten there relatively early, so this was a shame. But I can honestly say that was it.
So is Christmas at Kew just about lights?
Shashia: Not at all. If you're travelling with a young family, you can stop and enjoy a range of rides, including a Victorian carousel and helter-skelter. For people looking to do some last-minute shopping, the gift shop has the cutest Christmas collection of ornaments, books, and general gifts. Plus, the Victoria Plaza café offers hot snacks like toasted marshmallows, and you can sit down and have a proper meal at the Pavilion Bar and Grill.
Any more advice for visitors?
Suzanne: Wrap up warm! I was wearing the thinnest raincoat, about the thickness of a plaster, so by the end of the trail, my sense of feeling and my face had parted ways. The route is on flat ground, I noticed that people in wheelchairs and parents with pushchairs were able to navigate the terrain easily, so don’t worry about that if you’re going. Plus, there were plenty of stewards along the way to help out, should you need anything.
There's the verdict - Christmas at Kew is a must-see. Of course, it's a fantastic place to visit all year round. So if you're visiting London, or call it home, come check it out. And if you're not familiar with Kew Gardens, here's everything you need to know.