Enjoy October at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst

Release date: 14 September 2023

  • Queer Nature, celebrating the diversity of plants and fungi, in the Temperate House
  • Horticultural highlights include magnificent early autumn colour 
  • New gallery exhibition from acclaimed artist Mat Collishaw from 20 October
  • Half-term events include We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst
  • Wellbeing workshops include candlelight yoga and sound baths in nature
A collection of images related to Queer Nature at Kew Gardens
Queer Nature

Kew Gardens

Queer Nature in the Temperate House | Entry included with Gardens admission

From 30 September – 29 October, celebrate the diversity and beauty of plants and fungi with an inspiring new festival, Queer Nature, at Kew Gardens. Step inside Kew’s iconic Temperate House to discover a large-scale suspended artwork and a living horticultural installation which explores the amazing world of plants and fungi. Queer Nature After Hours (18+) offers a wonderful opportunity to experience the Temperate House after dark, with four evenings of music, art and performance across the month. 

Horticultural Highlights

Horticultural highlights on display this month at Kew include the spectacular signs of early autumn unfolding across Kew’s arboretum, which can be enjoyed from a unique perspective with a seasonal stroll along the Treetop Walkway. At Wakehurst, woodlands of the world come alive with vibrant autumnal hues, and visitors can follow a fungi hotspots trail, to keep an eye out for weird and wonderful shapes on the ground. 

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

Petrichor by Mat Collishaw | Entry included in admission

A new exhibition of work from celebrated contemporary artist Mat Collishaw comes to the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art from 20 October. Drawing on an array of evocative imagery from the natural world, this 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. 

Wellbeing at Kew

Kew’s popular wellbeing events return this month and include the first ever Pilates and intuitive dance sessions at Kew. Supporting both physical and mental wellbeing, all wellbeing events take place within the inspiring surroundings of Kew Gardens’ 320-acre UNESCO World Heritage site. All tickets include entry to Kew Gardens and a 20% discount in our restaurants. 

Candlelight yoga | 18 October | 7 – 8pm | Temperate House

Relax and unwind with a yoga session in the world's most spectacular setting, the Temperate House. This special candlelit vinyasa flow will be held in the midst of 10,000 rare and endangered plants, and led by Anil Jangi, Kew's own yoga instructor.

Sound baths in nature | 3 and 16 October | 4 – 5pm | Nash Conservatory

As dusk descends, listen to the calming sounds of gongs, singing bowls and gentle percussion in a therapeutic sonic experience for relaxation and wellbeing. 

Forest bathing | 7 October | 10.30am - 1.30pm | Arboretum

Inspired by the Japanese art of Shinrin-yoku, forest bathing is a sensory woodland walk alongside an expert guide, who will encourage participants to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. Organised in partnership with the Forest Bathing Institute. 

Tai chi | 6 and 13 October | 9 - 10am | Mediterranean Garden

Boost your physical and mental wellbeing with the centuries-old Chinese martial art, tai chi. During this wellbeing session, learn standing meditation, joint loosening exercises, and two traditional tai chi movement routines to strengthen your mind and body.


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt | Entry included with Gardens admission

From 21 – 29 October, visitors can enjoy a brand-new interactive trail encouraging curious visitors of all ages to explore the wild wonders of nature as We’re Going on a Bear Hunt arrives at Kew Gardens. Distilling the essence of this classic story, intrepid adventurers will encounter an array of obstacles on their quest, including swishy swashy grass, thick oozy mud, a big dark forest and a swirling whirling snowstorm in search of the mysterious bear as they wind their way across the lake and into Kew’s magnificent Arboretum.


Kew Publishing Book of the Month | Witch’s Forest by Sandra Lawrence

There is more folklore, mythology and magic associated with our trees and forests than with any other living things. Known throughout the world as dark and wild places where witches make mischief and eerie creatures dwell, forests are also places of sanctuary for the ancient magic and the most enchanting species of trees. Kew: Witch's Forest is a beautifully illustrated, captivating journey through the magical woodland and its stories, from birch broomsticks and the sacred olive, to alder doorways and the Tree of Life.

Flower carved into limestone from an illustration
Stone carving workshop © RBG Kew

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.

Moss art workshop | 2 October | 10.30am – 12pm or 2pm – 3.30pm | Nash Conservatory

Using preserved moss species, Plant Designs will help you to create a unique piece of art, perfect for adding some greenery to your home décor. These pieces make the perfect addition to a home and are even well-suited in spaces with no natural light, making them a great green alternative to potted plants.

Botanical stone carving | 4 to 5 October | 10.30am – 4.30pm | Banks Lawn

In this two-day workshop, create a beautiful, botanical-themed relief stone carving inspired by nature. Use hand tools to carve a 20 x 20cm tablet of UK-sourced limestone into an attractive artwork to take home.


Papercut lightbox workshop | 12 October | 10.30am – 3pm | Nash Conservatory

A papercut lightbox is a magical way of creating a three- dimensional piece of art, using light to enhance the hand-cut layers and cast beautiful shadows. Led by Dawn Thornhill, this workshop will explore the basics of papercutting as you build your own design. 

Grow your own mushrooms | 6 October | 10.30am – 1.30pm | Cambridge Cottage

In this 90-minute workshop you will be provided with everything you need to make your own oyster mushroom grow at home kit. Caley Brothers will take you through the basics of mushroom cultivation and teach you how to care, store and get the most from your mushroom kit. 

Botanical drawing: Intermediate | 17 to 19 October | 10.30am – 4pm | Botanical Brasserie Courtyard 

Join botanical artist Lucy Smith to deepen your knowledge of plant structure in botanical drawing and 'how to see' using measured drawing and perspective.  On this course, you will draw a complex subject, learning to depict the leaves and flowers through three dimensions, as well as draw and render the solid forms of fruits and seeds. 

An illustrated bear hunt banner
We're Going on a Bear Hunt at Wakehurst
Mother and three daughters toasting marshmallows
Toasting marshmallows at Glow Wild, Jeff Eden © RBG Kew


Horticultural Highlights

At Wakehurst, autumn colour begins to transform the landscape, with hotspots such as Bethlehem Wood, Westwood Lake and the Iris Dell providing perfect photo opportunities. Nestled within Westwood Valley, the Lake offers sweeping vistas as vibrant autumn colour reflects off tranquil waters. Visitors exploring the landscape should also keep an eye out for fantastic fungi popping up throughout the gardens. 


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt | Saturday 14 Oct – Sunday 29 Oct | 10am – 5pm | Main trail free with entry | Nature Heroes activity £3

This October half-term, families are invited to embark on an unforgettable adventure at Wakehurst, as the much-loved family favourite We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, is brought to life, throughout stunning autumnal landscapes. This brand-new trail invites families on a sensory adventure told through captivating installations evoking each natural obstacle from the story. Children can also participate in the next Nature Heroes mission, to get their paws on a branded badge.

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! 

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

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.

Wakehurst Workshops

Forest Bathing | Saturday 7 October | 10am – 1pm and 2pm - 5pm | £22.50, or £20 for Wakehurst and Kew members

Reconnect with nature and unwind from the stresses of everyday life in this forest bathing workshop. Based on the Japanese art of Shinrin-yoku, forest bathing allows you to slow down as you immerse yourself in the forest environment.

Willow weaving workshop | Friday 6 October | 10.30am - 4.30pm | £89, £80 for Wakehurst and Kew members 

Discover the secrets of the traditional art of willow weaving and create a beautiful willow structure. Workshop leader Dominic Parrette, a Sussex-based basket maker and willow grower, will guide participants through the willow weaving process to produce a stunning willow hen structure that will look great in your garden.

Willow deer making workshop | Sunday 29 October | 10am – 4.30pm | £89, £80 for Wakehurst and Kew members

Discover the secrets of using materials from Wakehurst’s woodlands to create a stunning willow deer for your garden. Workshop leader Martin Brockman will offer a step-by-step guide to weaving willow, coppiced hazel and other hedgerow materials over the course of the day.



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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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 www.kew.org/kew-gardens/visit-kew-gardens/tickets. 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 30,000 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.