2023 at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Discover what's coming up this year at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst
Release date: 19 January 2023
2023 at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew will feature an array of new festivals and exhibitions at both Kew Gardens in London and Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex.
From perennial favourites including Kew’s Orchid festival, Christmas at Kew and Glow Wild to new exhibitions from leading contemporary artists in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art and bespoke installations across Wakehurst’s wild landscape, there is something for visitors of all ages and interests to enjoy.
At the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew we’re dedicated to harnessing the power of plants and fungi to end the extinction crisis and secure a future for all life on Earth. With Kew’s world-leading research, global partnerships and beloved gardens – home to the world’s most diverse collections of plants and fungi – we’re using our trusted voice to shape policy and practice worldwide. As a charity we rely on the critical support of our visitors, not only to sustain the gardens, but to protect global plant and fungal biodiversity for the benefit of our planet and humanity.
Throughout the year, visitors in receipt of Universal Credit, Pension Credit and other legacy benefits can enjoy entry to Kew Gardens and Wakehurst for £1. Launched in 2022, this £1 concession has been used by over 20,000 visitors to date, allowing people of all ages and incomes to enjoy a great day out in nature alongside our year-round exhibitions and temporary festivals. RBG Kew has also introduced a new Young Person’s ticket for 16–29-year-olds. These tickets can be purchased on the day, or via kew.org, where booking in advance offers the best value.
Running in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art until 5 March 2023, the start of the year offers the last chance to see When Flowers Dream by award-winning artist Pip & Pop. The ethereal exhibition encompasses immersive installations inspired by fairytales and folklore. Pip & Pop’s work explores themes of consumption, and wish- fulfilment using eye-popping candy colours and a playful sense of perspective to immerse audiences in her uniquely wonderful world, illustrating a feast for the future.
Until 5 March
Returning to the Princess of Wales Conservatory in February is Kew’s annual Orchid festival, this year inspired by the sights and sounds of Cameroon. With stunning floral displays designed and created by Kew’s horticulturists, the festival also includes a photographic exhibition and After Hours events. It will also highlight the collaborative work of Kew Scientists in Cameroon in their mission to understand and protect the incredible biodiversity of this unique West African nation.
Saturday 5 February to Sunday 6 March
Also in February, the International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition returns to Kew Gardens. Featuring a selection of winning photographs from Competition 16 across categories 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
Brand new for 2023, young explorers are invited to join Wakehurst’s Nature Heroes – an adventurous planet-loving team with a nature-saving mission! Wearing their special superhero cape, children can embark on a new adventure every school holiday, gathering the skills needed to become protectors of the natural world. With each themed quest, intrepid explorers earn a badge to wear with pride on their cape. From ‘Bird Buddy’ (Feb half-term) to ‘Fungi Finder’ (Oct half-term), there’s a fantastic range of missions to undertake for young heroes, complete with extra workshops to enjoy.
Launching 15 February, runs every half-term, Easter, and summer holidays
This April, the wonderful world of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s incredible invertebrate Superworm is recreated at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst. These brand-new interactive trails will allow young visitors to encounter this super-long and super-strong hero and his insect companions whilst discovering more about the vital role which these familiar species play in our ecosystem.
Saturday 1 April to Monday 17 April at Kew Gardens
Thursday 30 March to Sunday 23 April at Wakehurst
Spring horticultural highlights at Kew Gardens including magnificent magnolias alongside carpets of crocuses and beautiful blossom along Cherry Walk. Visitors can also admire a stunning display of tulips around the Temperate House, with 10,000 colourful bulbs in flower from April to May. As summer progresses, visitors can also enjoy a newly expanded Mediterranean Garden, highlighting a selection of planting from drought-tolerant regions around the world, including California, Western Australia, and South Africa.
From 1st April, acclaimed artists Anila Quayyum Agha and Sue Wickison present new work at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. This exhibition explores themes of faith, reflection, and cultural interaction, and showcases stunning contemporary sculptural work alongside intricate botanical paintings and work from the Shirley Sherwood Collection.
Saturday 1 April to Sunday 17 September
Wakehurst's Elizabethan Mansion, built in 1571-1590 and set in the heart of the gardens, requires an extensive roof restoration to preserve the Grade I listed building for future generations. With building work expected to last over two years, the Mansion will receive a radical facelift in the form of a newly commissioned installation from Australian-born artist, Catherine Nelson. Using photography of Wakehurst’s spectacular collections, Nelson will create ‘Planet Wakehurst’, a dazzling photo montage of the plants that span the 535-acre site.
Over the summer, visit Kew Gardens to experience one of the most biodiverse places on earth being brought to life alongside a series of inspiring voices. Our summer programme for 2023 will celebrate the inspiring and uplifting power of nature, with five curated trails around Kew’s UNESCO World Heritage Site for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Join us to experience Kew from a series of new perspectives and immerse yourself in the awe and wonder of nature this summer.
Saturday 27 May – Sunday 31 August
Kew’s ever-popular Summer Cycle returns for 2023. 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 Gardens during 2023 include Forest Bathing, Tai Chi and Yoga in the Temperate House.
This summer, Wakehurst is celebrating one of the world's most recognisable and loved plants – the tree. Vital to our existence, trees are the life support of the planet, they store carbon, they are home to wildlife, they even ease stress. In Rooted, a series of bespoke outdoor installations across Wakehurst created by award-winning artists will uncover the phenomenal power of woodland wonders, with special evening events and workshops for audiences of all ages to enjoy.
Friday 7 July – Sunday 17 September
Kew the Music returns for 2023, with an array of iconic headline acts taking to the stage. These incredible outdoor concerts offer a unique opportunity to experience Kew’s UNESCO World Heritage Site as twilight falls, enjoying some of the world’s most popular music acts in a truly spectacular location.
Tuesday 4 July to Sunday 9 July
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. At Wakehurst, the American Prairie offers a magnificent meander through the grasslands of North America.
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.
This autumn Kew Gardens will explore the long-lasting connection between plants and LGBTQ+ communities with a new festival in the Temperate House.
Amplifying queer voices with a packed programme of art installations, performances, film screenings and events, this month-long programme will create a space for conversation, reflection, and celebration.
Saturday 30 September- Sunday 29 October
From October onwards, experience the splendour of autumn colour at Kew Gardens. Autumn offers a fantastic opportunity to see Kew’s Arboretum in an entirely new light, encountering over 10,000 trees as they begin their annual transformation. From enigmatic acers to majestic maidenhair trees, this spectacular seasonal display is a must see as the year draws to a close. Elsewhere, Kew’s new Kitchen Garden is full of autumnal crops, including pumpkins, gourds, and winter vegetables.
NOVEMBER & DECEMBER
From November, Christmas at Kew will be back for another season of stunning illuminations in the gardens after dark. This much-loved trail will feature a range of new installations and the return of much-loved favourites including the Christmas Cathedral and stunning lightshows on Kew’s iconic buildings.
Celebrating 10 years, Glow Wild, the longest running winter light trail in the South-East returns to Wakehurst. With spectacular light installations and beautifully handcrafted lanterns, the enchanting trail transforms Kew’s wild botanic garden into a glistening haven – the perfect festive experience for family and friends. Plus, the UK’s tallest living Christmas tree at 37m tall dazzles with 1,800 energy-saving bulbs.
Christmas at Kew: Wednesday 15 November – Sunday 7 January
Tickets on sale Monday 16 January
Glow Wild: Thursday 23 November – Monday 1 January