Sustainability at Christmas at Kew

How we are working hard with our Christmas at Kew event planners and suppliers to provide a light trail that is as sustainable as possible.

Sparkles, fairy lights and a glowing glass house for Christmas at Kew

As part of our 2021-2030 Sustainability Strategy, every year Kew works closely with our Christmas at Kew event partners and suppliers to design and deliver a beautiful Christmas light trail in a way that is as sustainable as possible - and every year we are making improvements to achieve a lower impact Christmas at Kew event for thousands to enjoy. 

Environmental management

In 2005, Kew Gardens became the first World Heritage Site in the world to achieve ISO 14001 accreditation. ISO 14001 is an internationally agreed standard for environmental management, helping organisations to improve their environmental performance through more efficient use of resources and reduction of waste. 


Where possible, all lighting is LED and we are working hard to transition towards 100% LED lighting for the artworks which form the Christmas at Kew trail over the next couple of years. We are currently at 75% LED.

The design of the trail also avoids the continuous lighting of paths, which is only used when deemed necessary for safety reasons. The avoidance of continuous path lighting is for ecology reasons and something we have done for years based on our annual ecology consultancy report.  

Power provision and fuel 

One of the biggest impacts from this type of event is the energy use, and the Christmas at Kew team have been looking for ways to reduce energy use and source sustainable power since Christmas at Kew began in 2013.

Wherever possible we use mains power but due to the large size of the Gardens there are some areas where power is not yet available and we rely on the use of temporary generators.

We started trialling HVO biofuel generators in 2020 (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil — a form of renewable diesel that has been produced from vegetable fats and oils) and are proud that this year all Christmas at Kew generators are being run on renewably-sourced biofuel.  

Waste management

Our takeaway cups do not contain plastic and are both recyclable and compostable. 10 trees are planted by the Eden Reforestation Project for every box of cups we use.

All our food stalls offer vegan and vegetarian options, and the trail is completely free of single-use plastic. We are also recycling glass and plastic waste.  

During the build process, we ensure that any waste generated is kept to a minimum and have engaged with our supply chain to promote the use of plastic-free compostable packaging where possible.  

Wildlife and ecology

We carry out a full ecology report and ensure our resident wildlife remains undisturbed throughout the installation and running of Christmas at Kew each year. We protect our bats, badgers and vulnerable trees through careful and considered light and audio placements around the gardens.

Our trail designers, Culture Creative, were appointed on the strength of their experience of working in environmentally-sensitive ways and heritage landscape settings.  

Kew’s own ‘Tree Gang’ carry out the intricate placements of the hanging lights around the trail. This ensures our trees are protected and looked after by the team that knows them the best.