December at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst

Release date: 22 November 2021

  • Christmas at Kew and Glow Wild at Wakehurst offer fantastic festive experiences for the whole family
  • Zadok Ben-David: Natural Reserve continues in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art
  • Kew’s new Family Kitchen & Shop opens 6th December
  • New Christmas Willow Weaving course at Kew
  • New online courses available now
  • Coming soon: Orchids 2022, returning to Kew after two years

Kew Gardens

Zadok Ben-David: Natural Reserve

Continuing until March 2022, acclaimed artist and sculptor Zadok Ben-David presents Natural Reserve, a new exhibition at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. This first solo exhibition by the artist in the UK since 2008 includes Blackfield, a space-specific floor installation containing over 17,000 steel etched flowers assembled entirely by hand. Images available here.

Hand-painted, miniature, etched flowers
Blackfield by Zadok Ben-David, National Museum of Kazakhstan, 2014 © Kramchaninov Gleb

New Family Kitchen & Shop

On Monday 6th December, Kew opens a brand-new family Kitchen & Shop. Situated next to the interactive Children’s Garden, this multi-sensory new eatery not only offers families a place to eat and drink, but also to engage with the natural world and learn more about where food comes from, discovering the important role which plants and fungi play in all our lives. With a capacity to host up to 250 diners, the restaurant is a space where the wonder of nature combines with an interactive food laboratory. Images are available here.

A family of four eats a meal in a colourful restaurant underneath a brown mushroom made from sticks
New Family Kitchen and Shop © RBG Kew

Christmas at Kew

Throughout December to Sunday 9 January, Christmas at Kew, a much-loved highlight of London’s festive calendar, returns for its ninth year. This year’s trail features a host of firm seasonal favourites alongside pioneering new light installations, illuminating Kew Gardens’ UNESCO World Heritage landscape with vibrant bursts of colour and over a million twinkling lights. A celebration of nature by night, and the wonder of biodiversity, this is an enchanting seasonal experience like no other, for visitors of all ages. Tickets are extremely limited, with some availability remaining in January 2022. Images available here.

Christmas at Kew
Christmas at Kew, Jeff Eden © RBG Kew

Elegant and Enchanting

Also at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art this month is Elegant and Enchanting, a stunning art exhibition highlighting the plant habitats and stunning flora of Japan, China and Thailand. Featured artists include Asuka Hishiki, Hideo Horikoshi, Mariko Ikeda, Mieko Ishikawa and Kimiyo Maruyama. Curated by Dr Shirley Sherwood OBE, the exhibition highlights these botanically rich countries and their wide range of plant habitats and beautiful flora.

Flowering Cherries: Prunus pendula 'Pendula-rosea' by Mieko Ishikawa
© Flowering Cherries: Prunus pendula 'Pendula-rosea' (2006) Mieko Ishikawa.

Short Courses at Kew

Christmas willow weaving | 2 December 2021 | 10am – 1pm or 2pm – 5pm | Nash Conservatory | £80
Join us at Kew Gardens to make your own woven willow creations for Christmas. Led by artisan willow weaver Amanda Ryner from Wyldwood Willow will lead this fun session, offering her expertise and top tips as visitors learn how to create woven Christmas decorations, including a magical reindeer, willow stars and festive trees.

Willow weaving workshop
Willow weaving workshop © RBG Kew

Online Courses from David & Charles

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and David and Charles have partnered to deliver a selection of new online learning courses, available to enjoy from the comfort of your own home. Courses are delivered through a mix of video tuition and downloadable instructions and include a materials kit to provide established and amateur artists alike with the tools they need to develop their skills. Courses now live include Capturing The Inner Beauty of Flowers in Pen & Ink with Hazel Wilks, Painting Roses in Watercolour with Trevor Waugh, and Botanical Watercolour Vegetables with Rachel Pedder-Smith.

Person painting an image of a flower
Person painting a flower © RBG Kew


Glow Wild

Across selected evenings from Thursday 25 November 2021 to Sunday 2 January 2022, Glow Wild at Wakehurst offers a truly enchanting winter light trail for visitors to enjoy. As darkness falls, the gardens are brought to life with glowing lanterns, mesmerising projections and glistening fire torches. With a host of record-breaking installations, including the UK’s tallest living Christmas tree adorned with 1,800 lights, this is a unique seasonal experience not to be missed. Images available here.

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

Coming soon

Orchids 2022

A celebration of Costa Rica, Orchids runs from Saturday 5th February to Sunday 6th March 2022 at Kew Gardens. This much-loved festival returns to Kew for the first time since 2020,  and will once again see the Princess of Wales Conservatory transformed by a host of vibrant horticultural displays and animated soundscapes, transporting visitors to the tropics of Central America. Highlighting Costa Rica’s unique position as a biodiversity hotspot, the festival looks set to be as spectacular as ever as it makes a welcome return to Kew. Further information is available here.

Orchid festival
Orchid festival, Jeff Eden © RBG Kew


What we are doing to keep visitors safe

The safety and wellbeing of our visitors is of the utmost importance to us and we are continually monitoring and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic as it evolves. We are adhering to government advice in our planning to ensure visitors and staff remain safe while enjoying Kew and Wakehurst. Safety measures will reflect government advice at the time of visiting and will be clearly communicated across RBG Kew’s channels and onsite.


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Notes to Editors

About Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world-famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections 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 and a top London visitor attraction. Kew Gardens’ 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, Kew’s Wild Botanic Garden, attract over 2.5 million visits every year. Kew Gardens was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 260th anniversary in 2019. Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew receives approximately one third of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needed to support RBG Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.

About Wakehurst

Please note that Wakehurst is referred to just as Wakehurst, not Wakehurst Place. It is not a National Trust property.

Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex is home to the Millennium Seed Bank and over 500 acres of the world’s plants including temperate woodlands, ornamental gardens and a nature reserve. It is situated in the High Weald of Sussex, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and focuses on wild plant collections. The Millennium Seed Bank houses and protects seed from the world’s most substantial and diverse collection of threatened and useful wild plants, making it the most biodiverse place on earth.

RBG Kew receives just under half of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales. 

In March 2021, RBG Kew launched its 10-year strategy Our Manifesto for Change 2021. The institution’s ultimate goal is step up to help to end the extinction crisis and contribute to creating a world where nature is protected, valued by all and managed sustainably. In the wake of a global pandemic, and with the future of the planet in peril, the strategy represents a public commitment by RBG Kew to do everything in its power to reverse the environmental devastation of biodiversity loss and climate change.  The five key priorities are 1) Delivering science-based knowledge and solutions to protect biodiversity and use natural resources sustainably 2) Inspiring people to protect the natural world 3) Training the next generation of experts: 4) Extending our reach 5) Influencing national and international opinion and policy.

On May 25th RBG Kew launched its new Sustainability Strategy – committing to become Climate Positive by 2030 and marking a step-change in our urgent action to tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis.