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Charlie’s Chocolate Adventure: celebrate the 50th anniversary of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Kew Gardens this Easter

Roald Dahl’s best-loved tale Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will be brought to life at Kew Gardens for Easter 2014 (5 to 21 April 2014).

22 March 2014

Join us in celebrating 50 Whipple-Scrumptious years of Charlie and Willy Wonka. Activities are brought to you in partnership with the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre and Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The New Musical.

Get stuck into our themed arts and crafts workshops – based around the four main Chocolate Factory rooms featured in the book – or join our traditional Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday 20 April 2014 from 9.30am to 12.30pm and get involved in the quest for delicious Lindt chocolate eggs. Keep your eyes peeled for three people in top hats giving out Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed stickers and once you’ve collected from all three, head over to Museum Number One where there will be two Easter Bunnies waiting with your delicious chocolate eggs.

2014 marks a phenomenal 50 years since Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published. The story of Charlie Bucket, the five Golden Tickets, the devilish Oompa-Loompas and the amazing Mr Willy Wonka has become embedded in our culture, having twice been adapted for the cinema and most recently as a hit West End musical. Kew Gardens is delighted to join in the celebrations.

Claire Field, Director of the Roald Dahl Museum says, 'We are so excited about sharing one of Roald Dahl’s best-known stories with visitors at Kew Gardens and can’t wait to bring a little bit of his magic to such glorious surroundings. We’re sure that visitors, young and old, will enjoy discovering more about Charlie Bucket (and friends!) through crafts, storytelling and, of course, a little bit of chocolate.'

Whipple-Scrumptious Easter activities on offer at Kew Gardens include:

Create your own Willy Wonka-inspired chocolate bar
In the Chocolate Room, next to Climbers and Creepers, get creative with a chef from the Roald Dahl Museum café to decorate your very own chocolatey creations. Take your inspiration from Roald Dahl and come up with an ingenious name for your chocolate bar and create a wacky label and package. Sessions run at 11am; 12pm; 1pm; 2pm; 3pm daily, at the cost of £3 per bar and £5 for two.

Music, mayhem and Everlasting Gobstoppers in the Inventing Room….
Join Willy Wonka and his head Oompa-Loompa in the Inventing Room, located in a marquee near the Palm House, for songs, music and interactive performance. You can also concoct, create and take away your very own everlasting gobstopper with a brilliant recipe idea for a creation to top Willy Wonka’s. To take part, drop into the Inventing Room from 11am – 4pm. This activity is free.

Discover more about the plant origins of some of the ingredients in your favourite sweets and desserts by taking part in our Whipple-Scrumptious Plant Hunt in the Palm House, with illustrations by Roald Dahl’s principle illustrator, Quentin Blake, mapping the way. You will see sugarcane – did you know that the average British person eats the equivalent of 140 spoonfuls of sugar a week?  Look out for annatto, which is used to give many sweets their red and orange colours; the vanilla orchid which flavours ice-cream and one of chocolate’s greatest partners, the macadamia nut.

Go nuts
Colouring-in and drawing are the focus in the Nut Room, in a yurt next to the Waterlily House – just beware of the mischievous squirrels. Get involved in the arts and crafts on offer and try fashioning a squirrel mask, create a moving model of the chocolatier Willy Wonka or dress your very own Oompa-Loompa. While immersed in this devilishly delicious world of chocolate and celebrated characters, you’re invited to dream up stories and images of your own child inspired by the ‘missing’ character of Miranda Mary Piker, who never made it into the published book.

To take part, drop in to the Nut Room from 11am to 4pm. This activity is free.

While strolling between the activities keep your eyes peeled for the Quentin Blake squirrels hidden around the Gardens. Find them and claim your prize from any cafe in the Gardens; a free Lindt dunker when you buy a hot chocolate!

You’re a poet – you just don’t know it
If you are all crafted out, then head to the Television-Chocolate Room in the Princess of Wales Conservatory film room. Sink into some beanbags and listen to Oompa-Loompa poems and Roald Dahl’s hilarious Revolting Rhymes, as told by storytellers from the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, with lovely photo opportunities also on hand. Also on offer is the chance to sit back and enjoy the animated introduction to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The New Musical, which uses the exuberant drawings of Roald Dahl’s principle illustrator, Quentin Blake, and tells the story of how chocolate is made. Sessions run at 11am – 11.30am; 12 noon – 12.30pm; 1.30pm – 2pm and 3pm – 3.30pm daily. This activity is free.

Great Glass Lift (Secluded glasshouse)
After indulging in some chocolatey treats, get involved in a hands-on-activity exploring the links between our favourite confectionary and the cacao plant from which it is made. There will also be photo opportunities in that all important Great Glass Lift.

Sessions will run every day from 11am – 1pm. This activity is free.

Face painting and delicious Willy Wonka inspired treats
Indulge in a variety of chocolatey treats inspired by this eccentric chocolatier, available at White Peaks and the Orangery from Fri 29 March to Sun 14 April.

If, after munching down some chocolatey treats, you want to watch how Georgian cooks prepared delicious chocolate recipes, then head on over to the Georgian Kitchens in Kew Palace and see what the cooks are preparing for King George III and his family.

Sessions running from Friday 18th – Monday 21st April, from 10.30am to 4pm. This activity is free.

Face painters will be on hand to transform your experience, so why not explore your inner Violet Beauregarde and become a giant blueberry for the day, or choose from a traditional Easter design or a variety of other Charlie inspired designs.

Face painting will be on offer from 10.30am – 5pm near the new Munch Box tipis at the cost of £4 per face, or 2 faces for £7!

If all this talk of chocolate has piqued your interest and you want to find out more, hop on board the Kew Explorer land train to hear a special narrated tour exploring the history of chocolate.

To board the land train please go to either Stop 1 or Victoria Plaza with tours running from 11am – 12 noon on Fri 29 Sat 30, Sun 31 March &, Mon 1 April. Tickets cost £4.50 for adults and £1.50 for concessions.

If you want to delve further into the history of chocolate make sure you come down to Gloria Lilley’s talk on Tuesday 8th April at 7pm at the Jodrell Lecture Theatre. Tickets cost £5, or £4 for friends of Kew.

Spring at Kew Gardens: The Biggest Display of Spring Colour in the Country

If all the Easter chocolatey fun on offer wasn’t enough, April also sees Kew Gardens in full spring bloom.

Take in the full beauty of over five million bulbs at Kew with our guided ‘Spring Spectacular’ tours and explore the very best of the wonderful bulbs and blossoms on display during the Easter period. Feast your eyes on the blankets of daffodils and crocuses and immerse yourself in the full beauty of these spring blooms on one of our hour long tours. These tours will run daily from 12noon – 1pm from March 1 – April 30 and are free. Bookings can be made from 15 minutes before the start of the tour at the Guide’s Desk at Victoria Plaza, with groups of 6+ needing to book in advance at  or 020 8332 5604. Please be aware that spaces are limited to 15 people per tour.

Once you have finished your tour, for more unusual, exotic bulbs head to the Davies Alpine House, with changing displays from March to May. Peak time to view the species tulip collection is late March.

You will also be able to enjoy the sight of Kew’s trees as they awaken and burst with new life (keep an eye on the Arboretum team’s blog for updates on the many colourful and wonderfully scented spring flowering shrubs and blossom. Cherry Walk is a popular highlight from mid-March through April.

The 250 magnificent magnolias across the Gardens are a sight to behold in early April. The trees grouped together at Elizabeth Gate, with their large pink and white flowers, stand out as a special highlight for your visit. Magnolias are also celebrated in The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art with an exhibition (15 January – August 2014) featuring breathtakingly beautiful and detailed paintings of Magnolia species, by award winning botanical artist Barbara Oozeerally. These stunning images and many more will be published in a book, Magnolias in Art and Cultivation, by Kew and the RHS to coincide with the exhibition in 2014

Later in the season, thousands of deep blue, starry flowered Chionodoxa siehei carpet the lawns surrounding White Peaks. These delicate alpine plants are known as ‘Glory of the Snow’ in western Turkey as they emerge from the melting snow of the mountains.

Keep up to date with Kew’s spring flowering and plan your visit using the Bulbwatch Map (Bulbwatch goes live in January 2014).

If you have been inspired by Kew Gardens in spring bloom, pick up a copy of Growing Garden Bulbs in the Victoria Gate shop. Written by Kew’s Head of Hardy Display, Richard Wilford, and the driving force behind Kew’s beautiful spring displays, this book will help you get the most out of your snowdrops and daffodils


Media enquiries: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew press office +(44) 0208 332 5607; or @KewPressRoom
Easter Images are available to download from here
Spring images are available to download form here

Please contact the Kew press office for a username and password.

Notes to Editors

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract over 1.5m visits every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately half its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.

About Roald Dahl and his legacy

Roald Dahl (1916–1990) was one of the world’s most imaginative, successful and loved storytellers. His books are currently available in 55 languages and, at a conservative estimate, have sold 200 million copies worldwide and inspired movies, operas, classical music and hit stage musical adaptations. Two charities have been founded in Roald Dahl’s name: Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity – created in 1991 – makes life better for seriously ill children by raising money to fund charities, hospitals and individual families in the UK. The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – a unique cultural, literary and education hub – opened in June 2005 in Great Missenden where Roald Dahl lived and wrote many of his best-loved works. The Museum has two fun and fact-packed biographical galleries (one of which now features Roald Dahl’s original Writing Hut) and a fantabulous interactive Story Centre full of hands-on displays and games.

The interior of Roald Dahl’s Writing Hut was carefully moved to the Museum in 2012 from the original hut in the author’s garden. It has been recreated exactly as he left it right down to the lino on the floor, the polystyrene insulation and the paperclips fixing postcards to the wall. The Writing Hut holds almost 300 objects, from pictures to puzzles and from handkerchiefs to human bones.

In the school holidays and at weekends, an inspiring range of workshops, events and free storytelling sessions take place.  Free craft activities are always on offer, while the Village Trail leads intrepid visitors around Great Missenden to see the places that feature in the stories.

On 13 September 2006, the first national Roald Dahl Day was celebrated, on what would have been the author’s 90th birthday. The event proved such a success that Roald Dahl Day is now marked annually all over the world. This is a particularly exciting moment for Roald Dahl fans globally. 2014 marks 50 Whipple-Scrumptious Years of Roald's most beloved and iconic story, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Then in 2016, we'll be marking the Centenary of Roald Dahl's birth. For further information on the wonderful world of Roald Dahl please visit


Olivier and Tony Award®-winning actor Douglas Hodge plays Willy Wonka in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The New Musical, directed by Sam Mendes.  The West End production opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 25th June 2013 and is currently booking until 30th May 2015.

Alongside Douglas Hodge, the cast includes Nigel Planer as Grandpa Joe, Clive Carter as Mr Salt, Jasna Ivir as Mrs Gloop, Paul J Medford as Mr Beauregarde, Iris Roberts as Mrs Teavee, Billy Boyle as Grandpa George, Roni Page as Grandma Josephine and Myra Sands as Grandma Georgina. Featuring ingenious stagecraft, the wonder of the original story that has captivated the world for almost 50 years is brought to life with music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (Grammy® winners for Hairspray; Smash), a book by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig (The Events; The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart; Midsummer; Tintin In Tibet), set and costume designs by Mark Thompson (Mamma Mia!; One Man, Two Guvnors) and choreography by Peter Darling (Billy Elliot; Matilda).

The Official Cast Recording album is available now on Sony Records, on CD and download.

This world premiere musical is produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Neal Street Productions and Langley Park Productions.