2022 at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Release date: 17 January 2022

Wakehurst landscape
Wakehurst landscape © RBG Kew

2022 promises to be another exciting year at RBG Kew, with an array of new festivals and exhibitions for visitors of all ages to enjoy at both Kew Gardens and Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex.

As well as this, RBG Kew’s scientists and horticulturists will continue to forge ahead with their vital plant science and global conservation work, striving to reach the ambitious targets outlined in our Manifesto for Change.

Across the year ahead, RBG Kew will continue to raise its voice and share its vital knowledge at the highest levels, engaging with the wider public across the UK and internationally to ensure that plants and fungi are understood, appreciated, and ultimately protected by all.

January

This January, The Green Planet, a ground-breaking new series from BBC Studios’ world-renowned Natural History Unit airs on BBC One and iPlayer.

The series follows Sir David Attenborough as he travels the world — from the rainforests of the tropics to the wildernesses of the frozen north — to explore the extraordinary ways in which plants have learnt to survive and thrive in almost every environment on Earth.

Showcasing the mysterious secrets of the plant world using pioneering new filmmaking technology, the six-part series features a selection of specimens from the invaluable living collections at RBG Kew, which has been a key partner in the research and filming of The Green Planet.

Alongside this TV series, RBG Kew have partnered with Factory 42, BBC Studios, EE, Talesmith and Dimension Studios to create The Green Planet 5G AR Consortium, a unique Augmented Reality Experience in central London inspired by The Green Planet and supported by funding from Government’s 5G Create competition.

Digital botanical imagery, verified by Kew’s world-leading scientists and horticulturalists, will enable people to discover more about the flora and fauna that inhabits our planet, and give audiences a unique interactive understanding of the plants which are essential for all life of Earth to thrive.

Airing from Sunday 9 January on BBC One and iPlayer

Palm House trees
Palm House at Kew © RBG Kew.

February

RBG Kew’s event calendar kicks off with the return of the much-loved Orchid Festival in February.

This year’s festival is inspired by the brilliant biodiversity and colourful culture of Costa Rica.

With stunning floral displays designed and created by Kew’s horticulturists, the festival also features Ethereal Nature, a series of installations by Costa Rican artist Dino Real.

Orchids 2022 showcases the collaboration between local experts and Kew scientists in their mission to understand Costa Rica's wonderful plant life.

Saturday 5 February to Sunday 6 March

Orchid festival
Orchid festival, Jeff Eden © RBG Kew

Also in February, the International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition returns to Kew Gardens.

Featuring a selection of winning photographs across categories from Competition 15, including Beautiful Gardens, The Beauty of Plants, Wildlife in the Garden and The World of Fungi, the exhibition takes place in Kew’s stunning Arboretum.

Winners of the Captured at Kew special award will also be on display.

Saturday 5 February to Sunday 6 March

A white and orange butterfly on a small white flower
© Calvin Taylor Lee/IGPOTY

March

March will see the presentation of this year’s Kew International Medal followed by a lecture by the recipient. 

The award is given to individuals for distinguished, internationally-recognised work aligned with RBG Kew’s mission.

Previous recipients include former Irish President and humans rights advocate Mary Robinson, former President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos and Frank Ramsey Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge Sir Partha Dasgupta.

Wednesday 23 March

Bamboo garden at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Bamboo Garden, RBG Kew

April

The Very Hungry Caterpillar arrives at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst for Easter 2022 with a brand-new interactive adventure to nourish curious minds of all ages.

Based on Eric Carle’s best-selling children’s book, visitors will be able to recreate the journey of the caterpillar from egg to butterfly though a series of 3D installations, including a variety of fruit, a cosy chrysalis, and a bright, beautiful butterfly, each recreating the signature aesthetic of the much-loved book.

Saturday 2 April to Monday 18 April at Kew Gardens

Saturday 2 April to Sunday 24 April at Wakehurst

The very hungry caterpillar surrounded by a yellow sun and red apple
TM & © 2022 Eric Carle

This summer, award-winning artist Pip & Pop presents a new exhibition at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens.

This is the debut London exhibition for Tanya Schultz, who works as Pip & Pop to create immersive installations from a spectrum of materials, including sugar, glitter and sweets, as well as objects sourced on her travels all over the world.

Inspired by fairytales and folklore, Pip & Pop’s work explores themes of consumption, wish-fulfillment, and seemingly endless abundance, using eye-popping candy colours and a playful sense of perspective to immerse audiences in her uniquely wonderful world.

Summer 2022

Vibrant structure that looks like candy
When happiness ruled (2016), Jack Ball © Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA), Australia

May

Across summer 2022, Kew Gardens will host a new summer programme, Food Forever, exploring the future of food and taking visitors on a thought-provoking journey discovering the impact that our eating habits have on the world around us.

The programme will feature large scale art installations, screenings and talks, as well as contributions from pioneering scientists at Kew who are working hard to research the importance of sustainable food production with partner organisations all over the world.

Saturday 21 May to Sunday 18 September

An illustration of small people investigate plant based foods
Food Forever © RBG Kew / Adobe Stock

To mark World Biodiversity Day last year, Wakehurst launched its major new research project, the Landscape Ecology Programme.

Transforming Wakehurst into a ‘living laboratory’, the programme explores the value of UK biodiversity to inform nature-based solutions to critical challenges such as climate change and food security.

One year on, Kew scientists will share their latest findings and visitors will find out how they may get involved in this pioneering research.

Sunday 22 May

Researcher kneeling down in a field of bluebells inspecting a white box
Landscape ecology programme researcher at Wakehurst, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

Kew’s ever-popular Summer Cycle returns for 2022.

Allowing visitors to explore the gardens on two wheels, each evening session offers the perfect opportunity to experience the magic of this UNESCO World Heritage site from an entirely new perspective.

Taking in some of the most breath-taking landscapes in London, from Kew’s Syon Vista to the magnificent Great Broad Walk Borders, there is plenty to enjoy throughout the summer months.

Other wellbeing events happening at Kew during 2022 include Forest Bathing and Yoga in the Temperate House.

Various dates

Summer cycle
Summer cycle © RBG Kew

June

Making the most of the long summer days, Wakehurst presents a new series of evening wellbeing events.

Launching in June, visitors can experience the gardens anew with special cycling, running and dog walking nights on offer.

These events offer fun ways to keep active with friends and family, as well as exciting opportunities to discover new corners of the Wakehurst landscape.

Various dates from June - September

A group of people admire the view of Wakehurst whilst their dogs patiently sit next to them
Dog walking at Wakehurst, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

July

Kew the Music, the incredible summer festival is back again for five nights of fantastic musical talent, set against the unique backdrop of Kew Gardens.

Headlining this year are Will Young, James Morrison, Gipsy Kings, James Blunt and DJ Spoony presents Classical Garage, with more acts to be announced.

Tuesday 5 July to Sunday 10 July

Kew the Music

This summer, Wakehurst will host its own food-inspired programme, Nourish, promising a series of major outdoor art installations across its spectacular gardens, vibrant After Hours evening events, and interactive workshops.

The 12-week programme invites visitors to discover a specially commissioned collection of art installations, each responding to Kew Science research projects.

From architectural creations inspired by Kew’s research into enset, the remarkable banana relative in Ethiopia that could become a resilient climate-smart crop of the future, to playful interactive sculptures that reflect on Kew’s conservation of wild fruit and nut species in Georgia and Armenia, the programme offers creative insight into the important work Kew scientists are conducting around the future of plants and food in communities across the world.

The outdoor trail also offers visitors an escape from hectic lifestyles, an opportunity to nourish the mind and body as they explore Wakehurst’s wild landscapes and appreciate the beauty and wellbeing benefits of biodiversity first hand.

Friday 8 July – Sunday 18 September

Children at Wakehurst
Children at Wakehurst © RBG Kew

August

As summer continues, visitors can enjoy the longer evenings as Kew Gardens remains open until 7pm on weekdays and until 8pm at weekends.

Horticultural highlights in full bloom during August include the spectacular Great Broad Walk Borders and the tranquil Mediterranean Garden — all ideal spots for a picturesque picnic.

Theatre on Kew continues throughout August, with daytime and evening performances taking place across Kew’s magical landscapes and providing enchantment and escapism for audiences of all ages.

Late summer in the Great Board Walk Borders at Kew
Great Broad Walk Borders, Richard Wilford © RBG Kew

Following the success of last year’s After Hours weekend, Wakehurst is delighted to announce an extended 8-day run of the popular late-night events.

A rare opportunity to see Wakehurst at sunset, Nourish: After Hours sees the gardens and installations come alive with captivating live performances, open-air cooking and botanical cocktails, forming the perfect midsummer date or night out with friends.

Wandering through the spectacular landscape with evening light streaming through the trees, guests will find many of the artworks can be enjoyed anew on a balmy summer’s evening.

Thursday 11 – Saturday 13 and Thursday 18 – Saturday 20 August

Iris Dell, Wakehurst
Iris Dell, Wakehurst, Jim Holden

October

In October, the iconic Temperate House at Kew Gardens will be transformed into a carnival of colour for a month-long celebration of contemporary Mexico.

Inspired by the evocative Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), the Temperate House will be filled with spectacular art installations and vibrant horticultural displays, allowing visitors to discover more about this unique country and its breath-taking biodiversity.

October 2022

Temperate House, Kew Gardens
Temperate House, RBG Kew

For October half-term, the magic of the iconic children's tale Room on the Broom, based on the book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, arrives at Wakehurst.

The brand-new interactive trail offers families the chance to join Witch on her whimsical journey through the gardens, with a special add-on trail with fun prizes to be won.

Saturday 15 – Sunday 30 October

Young child playing in the brown leaves at Kew in Wakehurst
Child playing at Wakehurst in autumn, James Ratchford © RBG Kew

November and December

As winter draws in, Christmas at Kew will be back for another season of stunning illuminations in the Gardens after dark.

Celebrating its tenth year, this year’s trail will feature a range of new installations and the return of much-loved favourites including the Christmas Cathedral.

Christmas at Kew: Wednesday 16 November – Sunday 8 January

Tickets on sale Monday 17 January

Fire Garden at Christmas at Kew

As night falls over Wakehurst, the enchanting Glow Wild trail filled with hand-crafted lanterns, mesmerising installations, and captivating projections winds its way through the wild woodlands and gardens.

For 2022, Wakehurst is developing a new route for night-time explorers all inspired by colour, reflecting on how colour perception differs dramatically between humans and the natural kingdom, reminding visitors of its value and power.

Complete with the UK’s tallest living Christmas tree, specially adorned with 1,800 energy-saving bulbs, and a range of festive fare to refuel after nocturnal adventures, Glow Wild is a must-do winter experience for all ages.

Glow Wild: Thursday 24 November – Sunday 1 January

Tickets on sale Tuesday 8 March

People looking at colourful lanterns at Glow Wild
Lanterns at Glow Wild, Jeff Eden © RBG Kew