Christmas at Kew 2016

With the shorter daylight hours that winter brings, every moment outdoors feels like a gift. Spending your time outside in beautiful surroundings, with friends or family, can make the moment even more precious.

At the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, you can walk through avenues of beautiful, rare, and ancient trees, which will inspire and uplift you at any time of year.

At the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, you can walk through avenues of beautiful, rare, and ancient trees, which will inspire and uplift you at any time of year.

If you’re looking to find some winter inspiration, there’s nowhere better to visit than the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.  Kew offers so much to its visitors at every time of year.  During winter you might enjoy walking amongst the trees, or you may wish to quietly recharge your batteries by the lake.  You can also visit the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, the Marianne North Gallery, and the sculptures created by Henry Moore and Eduardo Paolozzi, that reside in the gardens.  With 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, Kew is a great place to explore.

Inside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, you'll find a diverse wonderland of plants from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australasia, and other exotic locations.

Inside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, you’ll find a diverse wonderland of plants from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australasia, and other exotic locations.

The Hive is a recently installed open-air structure, which is 17 metres tall and weighs 40 tonnes. During Christmas at Kew The Hive will be illuminated, highlighting the design of one of Kew's newest attractions.

The Hive is a recently installed open-air structure, which is 17 metres tall and weighs 40 tonnes. During Christmas at Kew The Hive will be illuminated, highlighting the design of one of Kew’s newest attractions.

If you’re interested in bees, you might want to visit The Hive, an immersive multi-sensory experience, which was installed at Kew earlier this year.  The Hive was designed by Wolfgang Buttress, who was inspired by scientific research into the health of bees.  The Hive has been designed to reflect the real time energy of a colony of bees residing in a beehive, located behind the scenes at Kew.  Each moment you experience inside The Hive will be filled with the collective energy of the bees within Kew’s beehive.

Looking up into The Hive at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew.

Looking up into The Hive at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew.

Autumn and winter unclothe the leaves of deciduous trees, revealing the beauty of the trees’ architecture and displaying their bark and stature.  There are around 14,000 trees at Kew, making this a great place to reconnect with nature, and relax in the serene, quiet, refined beauty that’s found at the start of winter.

Ginkgo biloba, growing at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in late September. Ginkgo biloba is a deciduous tree, its leaves turn a beautiful golden yellow in autumn, before falling and revealing the beauty of the tree's bark and stature.

Ginkgo biloba, growing at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in late September. Ginkgo biloba is a deciduous tree, its leaves turn a beautiful golden yellow in autumn, before falling and revealing the beauty of the tree’s bark and stature.

If you or your children are interested in the Jurassic period, you might enjoy visiting the first ever Ginkgo biloba to be grown in Britain, this specimen was planted in 1762 by Princess Augusta at Kew gardens.  Ginkgos, a favourite of herbal medicine, are a prehistoric tree species that grew during the time of the dinosaurs.  Often referred to as a living fossil, it’s amazing that the Gingko has survived to give us an insight into the plants that grew on our planet one hundred million years ago.

A closer look at the beautiful leaves of Ginkgo Biloba pictured in September at Kew. Extracts taken from Ginkgo trees are believed to offer many health benefits, and are frequently used in medicines. Ginkgo biloba are fascinating trees, they are the only survivors of the plant family Ginkgoaceae, the other plants in this Genus that grew during the Mesozoic era are now extinct.

A closer look at the beautiful leaves of Ginkgo Biloba pictured in September at Kew. Extracts taken from Ginkgo trees are believed to offer many health benefits, and are frequently used in medicines. Ginkgo biloba are fascinating trees, they are the only survivors of the plant family Ginkgoaceae, the other plants in this Genus that grew during the Mesozoic era are now extinct.

Ginkgo biloba, pictured at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew at the end of November.

Ginkgo biloba, pictured at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew at the end of November.

Ginkgo biloba pictured at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, at the end of November.

Ginkgo biloba pictured at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, at the end of November.

The fallen leaves of Ginkgo biloba form a beautiful yellow carpet under the tree.

The fallen leaves of Ginkgo biloba form a beautiful yellow carpet under the tree.

Fallen Ginkgo biloba leaves.

Fallen Ginkgo biloba leaves.

Ginkgo biloba is a deciduous tree, its leaves turn a beautiful yellow colour before falling. Pictured in November.

Ginkgo biloba is a deciduous tree, its leaves turn a beautiful yellow colour before falling. Pictured in November.

The Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a wonderful place to visit at any time of year.

The Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a wonderful place to visit at any time of year.

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, is a great garden to visit to see lots of different varieties of holly.

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, is a great garden to visit to see lots of different varieties of holly.

The Holly Walk at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, pictured in November.

The Holly Walk at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, pictured in November.

Kew’s Holly Walk offers seasonal inspiration; if the weather’s chilly, warm up inside the Palm House, where you’ll find a wonderland of plants from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australasia, and other exotic locations, growing together inside this iconic glasshouse, the basement of which houses the Marine Aquarium.

Inside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Inside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory is a an amazing and revolutionary glasshouse, that was specially designed and constructed to be energy efficient. The areas inside this glasshouse recreate 10 different climatic zones, featuring rare, exotic, and unusual plants, from a diverse range of environments and habitats.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory is a an amazing and revolutionary glasshouse, that was specially designed and constructed to be energy efficient. The areas inside this glasshouse recreate 10 different climatic zones, featuring rare, exotic, and unusual plants, from a diverse range of environments and habitats.

Inside the newly refurbished carnivorous plants area, inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Inside the newly refurbished carnivorous plants area, inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory is home to real life water dragons, rare and diverse plant collections, including carnivorous, tropical and sub tropical plants.  The lower level features viewing windows, showing the depths of the glasshouses’ pond, and the fish that reside there.

Here's one of the wonderful water dragons that reside inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Here’s one of the wonderful water dragons that reside inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is a wonderful garden to visit at any time of year. A gift of membership to become a friend of kew would make a very special gift. Kew is open to visitors all year round. The gardens are open every day, except for the 24th and 25th December.

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is a wonderful garden to visit at any time of year. A gift of membership to become a friend of kew would make a very special gift. Kew is open to visitors all year round. The gardens are open every day, except for the 24th and 25th December.

Laser beams dance across the lake in time to classic Christmas songs at Christmas at Kew 2016.

Laser beams dance across the lake in time to classic Christmas songs at Christmas at Kew 2016.

Christmas at Kew 2016 is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

Christmas at Kew 2016 is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is a magical place to visit at any time of year, but from the 23rd November 2016, until the 2nd January 2017 (exclusions apply – please check www.kew.org for details), Christmas at Kew offers visitors the chance to visit Kew after dark, where you’ll find the gardens lit up by a vast array of illuminations created by renowned lighting artists from across Europe.  Along the mile long path that sparkles with light, you’ll find botanically inspired installations, alongside fire garden displays, and interactive experiences which make Christmas at Kew very special indeed.

Christmas at Kew also features vintage rides, Christmassy food and drinks, Santa and his elves.  Tickets are available in advance, please visit www.kew.org for all the details.

This article was first published in the December 2016 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.

The carol singers at Christmas at Kew 2016, sang beautifully, as the singers welcomed visitors to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The carol singers at Christmas at Kew 2016, sang beautifully, as the singers welcomed visitors to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The iconic Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, pictured during Christmas at Kew 2016.

The iconic Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, pictured during Christmas at Kew 2016.

The Palm House at Kew Gardens is lit up with a moving light show for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

The Palm House at Kew Gardens is lit up with a moving light show for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

Christmas at Kew 2016 is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

Christmas at Kew 2016 is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

Five Gold Rings created by And Now, for Christmas at Kew 2016, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Five Gold Rings created by And Now, for Christmas at Kew 2016, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

A closer look at the Five Gold Rings light installation and fire garden, created by And Now, for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from the 23rd December 2016 until the 2nd January 2017.

A closer look at the Five Gold Rings light installation and fire garden, created by And Now, for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from the 23rd December 2016 until the 2nd January 2017.

A closer look at the four calling birds, part of the Five Gold Rings light installation and fire garden, created by And Now, for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

A closer look at the four calling birds, part of the Five Gold Rings light installation and fire garden, created by And Now, for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

A closer look at the Five Gold Rings light installation and fire garden, created by And Now, for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

A closer look at the Five Gold Rings light installation and fire garden, created by And Now, for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

A closer look at one of the fire gardens created by And Now, to depict the Five Gold Rings from the Christmas song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Pictured at Christmas at Kew 2016.

A closer look at one of the fire gardens created by And Now, to depict the Five Gold Rings from the Christmas song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Pictured at Christmas at Kew 2016.

Admire the beauty of the trees at the Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew, after dark, during the special Christmas at Kew 2016 light festival.

Admire the beauty of the trees at the Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew, after dark, during the special Christmas at Kew 2016 light festival.

This giant, rotating, love heart disco ball light installation, was created by Stephen Newby, it's entitled Heart of Stars, and is positioned outside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Pictured during the Christmas at Kew 2016 event.

This giant, rotating, love heart disco ball light installation, was created by Stephen Newby, it’s entitled Heart of Stars, and is positioned outside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Pictured during the Christmas at Kew 2016 event.

This light installation, was created by Stephen Newby, it's entitled Heart of Stars, and is positioned outside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Pictured during the Christmas at Kew 2016 event.

This light installation, was created by Stephen Newby, it’s entitled Heart of Stars, and is positioned outside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Pictured during the Christmas at Kew 2016 event.

This light installation is entitled Heart of Stars, it was created by Stephen Newby, and is positioned outside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Pictured during the Christmas at Kew 2016 event.

This light installation is entitled Heart of Stars, it was created by Stephen Newby, and is positioned outside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Pictured during the Christmas at Kew 2016 event.

This light installation is entitled Heart of Stars, it was created by Stephen Newby, and is positioned outside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Pictured during the Christmas at Kew 2016 event.

This light installation is entitled Heart of Stars, it was created by Stephen Newby, and is positioned outside the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Pictured during the Christmas at Kew 2016 event.

Visitors can experience the Hive, which is beautifully lit up by 1,000 LED lights that pulse in time with the activity of the bees within a real bee hive at Kew, at Christmas at Kew 2016.

Visitors can experience the Hive, which is beautifully lit up by 1,000 LED lights that pulse in time with the activity of the bees within a real bee hive at Kew, at Christmas at Kew 2016.

Wolfgang Buttress' bee inspired Hive, is lit up by 1,000 LED lights that welcome visitors to this new installation at Kew. The Hive is pictured during Christmas at Kew 2016.

Wolfgang Buttress’ bee inspired Hive, is lit up by 1,000 LED lights that welcome visitors to this new installation at Kew. The Hive is pictured during Christmas at Kew 2016.

These beautiful crystal flowers were created by French designers David Lesort and Arnaud Giroud, who are known together as Pitaya. Pictured at Christmas at Kew 2016, in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

These beautiful crystal flowers were created by French designers David Lesort and Arnaud Giroud, who are known together as Pitaya. Pictured at Christmas at Kew 2016, in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

A closer look at the beautiful flowers created for Christmas at Kew 2016, by French designers David Lesort and Arnaud Giroud, who are known together as Pitaya. Pictured at Christmas at Kew 2016, in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

A closer look at the beautiful flowers created for Christmas at Kew 2016, by French designers David Lesort and Arnaud Giroud, who are known together as Pitaya. Pictured at Christmas at Kew 2016, in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Visitors admiring the light tunnel at Christmas at Kew 2016.

Visitors admiring the light tunnel at Christmas at Kew 2016.

Visitors walking through the immersive light tunnel experience at the Christmas at Kew 2016 event, held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Visitors walking through the immersive light tunnel experience at the Christmas at Kew 2016 event, held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Visitors walking through the immersive light tunnel experience at the Christmas at Kew 2016 event, held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Visitors walking through the immersive light tunnel experience at the Christmas at Kew 2016 event, held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Giant Christmas candles are just one of many light installations along the mile long illuminated trail at Christmas at Kew 2016 at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Giant Christmas candles are just one of many light installations along the mile long illuminated trail at Christmas at Kew 2016 at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory, pictured during Christmas at Kew 2016.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory, pictured during Christmas at Kew 2016.

Christmas at Kew 2016 is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

Christmas at Kew 2016 is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

Many of the specimen trees at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, have been illuminated especially for Christmas at Kew 2016.

Many of the specimen trees at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, have been illuminated especially for Christmas at Kew 2016.

Admire the beauty of the trees at the Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew, after dark, during the special Christmas at Kew 2016 light festival.

Admire the beauty of the trees at the Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew, after dark, during the special Christmas at Kew 2016 light festival.

Father Christmas and his helpers greet the Children at Christmas at Kew 2016.

Father Christmas and his helpers greet the Children at Christmas at Kew 2016.

The Helter Skelter and the Victorian Carousel at the special Christmas at Kew 2016 event, held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The Helter Skelter and the Victorian Carousel at the special Christmas at Kew 2016 event, held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The Victorian Carousel at the Christmas at Kew 2016 event, held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The Victorian Carousel at the Christmas at Kew 2016 event, held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The swing boats and Helter Skelter at the Christmas at Kew 2016 event, held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The swing boats and Helter Skelter at the Christmas at Kew 2016 event, held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

At Christmas at Kew 2016, you can choose your own giant marshmallows from a range of flavours, before toasting them over a fire pit. There are many other food stalls at Christmas at Kew, selling all kinds of products including roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, mince pies, a hog roast, and a cheese chalet selling toasted cheese sandwiches and other cheese centred foods!

At Christmas at Kew 2016, you can choose your own giant marshmallows from a range of flavours, before toasting them over a fire pit. There are many other food stalls at Christmas at Kew, selling all kinds of products including roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, mince pies, a hog roast, and a cheese chalet selling toasted cheese sandwiches and other cheese centred foods!

At the Christmas at Kew festival at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, you can choose your own giant marshmallows and toast them yourself over a fire pit. There are many other stalls and stands selling all kinds of foods at Christmas at Kew 2016, from roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, mince pies, to a hog roast, and a cheese chalet selling toasted cheese sandwiches and other cheese themed foods!

At the Christmas at Kew festival at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, you can choose your own giant marshmallows and toast them yourself over a fire pit. There are many other stalls and stands selling all kinds of foods at Christmas at Kew 2016, from roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, mince pies, to a hog roast, and a cheese chalet selling toasted cheese sandwiches and other cheese themed foods!

The Palm House at Kew Gardens is lit up with a moving light show for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

The Palm House at Kew Gardens is lit up with a moving light show for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

The iconic Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, pictured during Christmas at Kew 2016.

The iconic Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, pictured during Christmas at Kew 2016.

Christmas at Kew 2016 is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

Christmas at Kew 2016 is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

Laser beams dance across the lake in time to classic Christmas songs at Christmas at Kew 2016.

Laser beams dance across the lake in time to classic Christmas songs at Christmas at Kew 2016.

The iconic Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, pictured during Christmas at Kew 2016.

The iconic Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, pictured during Christmas at Kew 2016.

Christmas at Kew 2016 is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

Christmas at Kew 2016 is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

The Palm House at Kew Gardens is lit up with a moving light show for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

The Palm House at Kew Gardens is lit up with a moving light show for Christmas at Kew 2016, which is held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from the 23rd December 2016, until the 2nd January 2017.

Other articles that may interest you………….

To visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s website, please click here.

To see my recommended, trialled, tested, and reviewed list of gifts for gardeners for 2017, including talks and events for 2018, please click here.

To see photographs from the 2017 Orchid Extravaganza at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Please click here.

For a list of snowdrop nurseries, please click here.

To find out about the largest orchid in the world and see photographs of its flowering at Kew, please click here.

To read my 2016 recommended, trialled and tested gifts for gardeners, please click here.

For information about special snowdrop gardens, talks, events and open days for 2018, please click here.

For gardening advice and tips of what you could do at your allotment, or in your garden, from mid-December to mid-January, please click here.

To read my review of Katie Scott and Kathy Willis’ book Botanicum, please click here.

If you’re thinking of creating a new garden, you might be interested to find out about the award winning designer David Neal, and his company NealRichards Ltd.  For more information, please click here.

To read the first part of my Miniature Orchid Trial – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir, please click here.

To read about the live, growing, potted Christmas trees available from Wheeler Street Nursery, in Witley, Surrey, please click here.

To read about important, historical and beautiful gardens to visit in Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex, please click here.

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