December 2024 at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst

Discover what's on this winter at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst

  • Christmas at Kew continues throughout the month with stunning new installations
  • At Wakehurst, Glow Wild celebrates its 10th anniversary with 10 bespoke installations and over 1500 handcrafted lanterns
  • Critically acclaimed exhibition Mat Collishaw: Petrichor continues at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art
  • Horticultural highlights include continuing the Grass Garden at Kew and sensory delights in the Winter Garden at Wakehurst

Kew Gardens

Christmas at Kew

Running throughout December until 7 January 2024, Christmas at Kew, a much-loved highlight of London’s festive calendar, returns for its 11th magical 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, seasonal sounds and 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. Pre-booking essential, with limited availability.

Lit up fountain at the front of the Palm House
Palm House light show at the 10th Christmas at Kew © Raymond Gubbay Ltd, Richard Haughton
Family holding hands under an archway of fairy lights
Christmas Cathedral © RBG Kew, Jeff Eden

Petrichor by Mat Collishaw | Entry included in admission

Now open in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens, Petrichor is a new, critically-acclaimed exhibition of work from celebrated contemporary artist Mat Collishaw. Drawing on an array of evocative imagery from the natural world, this spectacular exhibition will feature sculptural installations, using a variety of pioneering techniques to explore the relationship between the natural world, art history, and how representations of nature in art can impact the way in which we see the world around us. 

Horticultural Highlights

This December, Kew’s new Winter Garden takes pride of place, with seasonal planting bringing cheering bursts of colour to the landscape. The spectacular Grass Garden is also a must-visit during the winter months, with feathery seed heads and sculptural structures catching the best of the seasonal sun. 

Kew Publishing Book of the Month | The Kew Gardens Christmas Book by Jenny Linford

The Kew Gardens Christmas Book is a beautifully illustrated celebration of the plants and animals central to Christmas. Jenny Linford weaves together history, folklore, botany and stories about Kew, as well as a selection of delicious plant-based Christmas recipes. From the history of the Christmas tree to the intriguing story of frankincense, the book is filled with fascinating festive facts. 

Close up of AI-enhanced natural image collage
Mat Collishaw: Petrichor

Short Courses

Why not sign up for a short course at Kew? Led by a selection of experts, these one-day courses offer unique opportunities to develop fresh skills within the stunning surroundings of Kew’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Botanical pigment & watercolour making workshop | 1 December | 10.30am – 4pm | Botanical Brasserie Restaurant Courtyard

In this workshop with Lucy Mayes from London Pigment, you will learn how to make a botanical palette of three primary colours from native plant species: madder (red), woad (blue) and weld (yellow). Make a set of pigments from plant dyes using the traditional ‘lake making process’. This process will convert a soluble plant dye into an insoluble pigment ready to be used in any binding medium to create a range of different paints.

Make Your Own Beaded Pearl Jewellery Workshop | 4 December | 10.30am – 1.30pm and 3pm – 6pm | Cambridge Cottage

Make a pearl bracelet or pearl necklace at this intimate workshop at Kew Gardens. Rayane Chami's jewellery-making classes will teach you how to make beaded jewellery using freshwater pearls. These workshops offer an unintimidating space to unwind, learn a new skill, and make some friends. It will be an intimate workshop with no more than 15 attendees per session.

Furoshiki gift wrapping | 8 December | 11am – 12.30pm or 2pm – 3.30pm | Cambridge Cottage

In Japan, there's a beautiful culture of wrapping treasured items, gifts, and belongings in Furoshiki (a Japanese wrapping cloth). With no cutting, sticking or waste, give thoughtful, beautiful gifts and say goodbye to single-use wrapping paper, bags and packaging for good. In this 60-minute workshop, learn some of the key techniques behind Furoshiki gift wrapping a book and a bottle from Tomoko Kakita, a Japanese Furoshiki expert.

Christmas willow weaving | 8 December | 11am to 12.30pm or 2pm to 3.30pm | Cambridge Cottage

Join us at Kew Gardens to make your own woven willow creations for Christmas. Artisan willow weaver Amanda Ryner from Wyldwood Willow will lead this fun session, offering her expertise and top tips. Learn how to create a string or garland of woven Christmas decorations to hang over the fireplace this year.   

Botanical candle painting | 19 December 2023 | 10.30am - 12.30pm or 2pm – 4pm | Cambridge Cottage

In this peacefully crafty workshop, you will be guided through the process of candle painting by Bianca, an ex-primary school teacher turned candle painting whiz. You will be shown how to paint your own beautifully unique tapered dinner candles, perfect for treasured keepsakes or gifts. 

Upcycled vintage ceramics | 20 December 2023 | 10.30am – 1pm or 2.30pm – 4pm | Cambridge Cottage

By using vintage paper materials, tutor Laura Goossens will show you how to create striking patterns and designs to give an old vase, plant pot or plate a new life. You’ll learn different upcycling and decoupage techniques, work with an incredible range of old paper materials and go home with skills you can apply to many other products.

Vintage botanical collage workshop | 21 December 2023 | 10.30am – 1pm or 2.30pm – 4pm | Cambridge Cottage

Join this two and a half-hour art class where you will make your own vintage paper collage! Guided by the talented and friendly teacher Laura Goossens, you’ll be shown how to work with all sorts of different old papers such as vintage books and magazines; make a selection for your own artwork; and carefully construct a collage so it becomes one cohesive piece, finishing the class with a mounted piece of art.

Multicoloured water paint on white paper
Botanical pigment & watercolour making workshop © Lucy Mayes


Horticultural Highlights

Wakehurst’s Winter Garden transforms into a sensory centrepiece in the winter months, and the perfect place to lift spirits on a cold day. Paths weave through bright red dogwood, and swathes of tall grasses, as brightly coloured Cyclamen and snowdrops offer a pop of colour on the ground. Other sensory spots across the gardens include timeless winter fragrances in the Pinetum, the gentle sound of trickling water throughout the Water Gardens, and the 33ft high Canopy Walk, offering breathtaking views across the South Downs, as leafless branches open up new vistas.

Colourful flowers in the Winter Garden at Wakehurst in wintertime
The Winter Garden at Wakehurst, Jim Holden © RBG Kew
Two tall pine trees growing amongst other taller trees
Pinetum at Wakehurst © RBG Kew


Glow Wild | Selected evenings 23 November – 1 January | 4.30pm - 10pm (last entry 8.20pm) | Various ticket options including flexible tickets

Sussex's ultimate festive trail is celebrating its tenth anniversary, featuring a never-before-seen route, brand new installations, and plenty of other surprises. As darkness falls, the gardens are brought to life with beautifully hand-crafted winter lanterns and captivating light installations created by leading artists.

With under 4s going free, Glow Wild is the perfect Christmas sensory experience for little ones. This year, Glow Wild celebrates the sublime, inviting visitors to become part of the trail and discover awe-inspiring moments in nature.

Planet Wakehurst | All day | Free with entry

Experience the UK’s largest outdoor art installation, as the impressive Planet Wakehurst photomontage wraps the Mansion, which is undergoing restoration. The 1500m2 canvas, showcases the wealth of biodiversity at Wakehurst and will be up for all to enjoy. Experience a new view of the gardens on our Canopy Walk, 33ft up! 

Members’ winter warmer | Tuesday 5 December | 5pm to 9pm | FREE - Wakehurst members only

Wakehurst members can enjoy an evening of late-night Christmas shopping and indulge in a hot beverage and delicious treats by the UK’s tallest living Christmas Tree. Take advantage of an additional discount in the shop and complete Christmas shopping early with 20% off. 


Surviving or Thriving: An exhibition on plants and us | Daily, 10am – 3.30pm | Millennium Seed Bank | Included with entry

This exhibition brings Kew’s State of the World’s Plants reports to life, telling the story of why some plants are only surviving, while others are thriving. Through film, audio, models, and a futuristic garden, explore 

the challenges that plants face and discover the vital role of fungi. 

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A young child reaches out to illuminated paper lanterns shaped like bees
Bee lanterns at Glow Wild 2023, Visual Air © RBG Kew
A sculpture of a tree with illuminated purple leaves
Tree of life at Glow Wild 2023, James Ratchford © RBG Kew

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 and scientific expertise in plant and fungal diversity, conservation, and sustainable development in the UK and around the globe. Kew’s scientists and partners lead the way in the fight against biodiversity loss and finding nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, aided by five key scientific priorities outlined in Kew’s Science Strategy 2021-2025. Kew Gardens is also a major international and top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of historic, landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, Kew’s Wild Botanic Garden and ‘living laboratory’, 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 the Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world and a safeguard against the disastrous effects of climate change and biodiversity loss. RBG Kew received approximately one third of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needs to support RBG Kew’s vital scientific and educational work comes from donors, memberships and commercial activity including ticket sales. For tickets, please visit In the first six months since implementing a new accessibility scheme for those in receipt of Universal Credit, Pension Credit and Legacy Benefits, Kew has welcomed over 40,000 visitors with £1 tickets.

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 25 2021 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.