14 May 2021

Best things to do at Kew this summer

From our summer festival to an extraordinary art exhibition, there are plenty of great things to do at Kew Gardens this season.

By Katie Avis-Riordan

Late summer in the Great Board Walk Borders at Kew

Summer at Kew is a special time. Every corner of the Gardens is alive with colour and life.

Explore the hidden secrets of the plant world at our summer festival, join our wellbeing sessions, see vibrant summer colour and enjoy many more seasonal highlights.

Come to Secret World of Plants

This summer, delve into the hidden secrets of the plant world at our festival of incredible immersive experiences.

Discover the art installations across our Gardens and the untold stories of our native plants and landscapes.

Explore native habitats through Plantscapes by artist Vaughn Bell, a series of unique large-scale exhibits, from native meadows and hedgerows to sand dunes and woodland.

You’ll also get to listen to the inner workings and noises of trees underneath sound domes on Syon Vista, and hear music created by plants in the Temperate House.

Seek out the playful seating installation designed as a rippling wave of wood and watch the interactive puppet show based on The Little Gardener picture book.

Don’t miss Secret World of Plants After Hours, our late-night experience where you can enjoy the spectacular sights, sounds, smells and tastes of nature as the sun goes down.

Illustration of secret world of plants
Secret World of Plants (c) RBG Kew

View amazing art

Visit our Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art this summer to enjoy not one but two stunning art exhibitions.

Witness Pure Structural Colour, the boldest, brightest colour on Earth in the Naturally Brilliant Colour exhibition.

On display for the very first time, these spectacular shades have never been recreated by humans before – until now.

See this new colour in botanical artwork by renowned artist Coral G Guest, get a sneak peek at how it could be used in the world of fashion, and look at a large jewel-like kaleidoscope containing glass created with this beautiful hue.

In the second gallery, A Botanical Rainbow is a botanical art exhibition celebrating the wonderful spectrum of colours in the plant world.

From deep indigoes to sunshine yellows, a rainbow of shades is revealed in intricately detailed paintings of flowers, fruit and leaves.

The artwork on display recreates colour in nature using watercolour, oil paint and crayon, and showcases a variety of techniques.

Naturally Brilliant Colour
Naturally Brilliant Colour

Join our wellbeing sessions

Come to Kew for a series of specially curated wellbeing sessions to help you disconnect from your everyday life and boost your mood.

After a challenging and unusual year, allow our beautiful landscape to relax and energise you.

Perfect for individuals or the whole family, take your pick from forest bathing, an evening summer cycle, yoga in the majestic Temperate House, pilates in the natural-light-filled Nash Conservatory, and tai chi in our enchanting Mediterranean Garden.

Yoga in the Temperate House
Yoga, Temperate House © RBG Kew

Watch movies and theatre at Kew

Grab your popcorn and join us in front of the big screen at Kew's outdoor cinema this July.

From new releases such as The Father starring the Oscar-winning Anthony Hopkins and musical In The Heights to beloved favourites such as Dirty Dancing and Back to the Future, Kew the Movies has something for everyone.

If theatre is more your thing, you're also in luck. This summer, Theatre on Kew brings A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Wind in the Willows to our enchanting Gardens.

Kew the Movies, 7 - 11 July, supported by HideAway Cinema
Kew the Movies

Immerse yourself in summer colour

No summer visit to Kew would be complete without witnessing the rainbow of colour on display in our Gardens.

Stop at the Rose Garden to admire the range of petal hues and delicious scents of more than 170 different rose species and cultivars.

The Agius Evolution Garden shows a breath-taking array of colour as you learn about the science behind the magnificent plant collection.

Be dazzled by our Great Broad Walk Borders, 320 metres of floral delight with each plant chosen for its beauty, colour or form.

Amble down this aromatic walkway to see swathes of lavender, alliums, salvias and many more showstopping species.

Don’t miss the Rock Garden, Queen’s Garden or Woodland Garden for bright summer colour and beautiful blooms.

Late summer in the Great Board Walk Borders at Kew
Great Broad Walk Borders, Richard Wilford © RBG Kew

Be welcomed back to our glasshouses

After a long period of closure due to government guidelines, we’re delighted to invite you back to explore our glasshouses this summer.

They are looking better than ever and brimming with life.

Soak up the tropics in our Palm House as you wander amongst the lush green rainforest plants and splashes of blooming colour.

Stroll through the Temperate House, the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse, to see 1,500 species of plants from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory has variety for all tastes.

With 10 climatic zones, you can venture from the desert to the wet tropics, spotting carnivorous plants along the way.

Admire the hardy alpine plants in the Davies Alpine House and the spectacular aquatic plants in the Waterlily House.

Inside the Palm House
Inside the Palm House, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

Enjoy tasty food and drink

Choose between our variety of cafés and restaurants in the Gardens.

Whether it’s indoor dining, alfresco lunch, or takeaway grub, we’ve got it.

Dine surrounded by trees and vines in our Pavilion Bar and Grill, pick up a sweet treat and coffee at White Peaks or Victoria Gate Café, or order a delicious dish in the Orangery.

Look out for seasonal specialities and food foraged from our Gardens on our menus.

You’re also welcome to bring your own picnic and find the perfect spot in our Gardens to lay out your blanket.


Get early entry as a Kew member

Between 1 May and 30 September, Kew members can enjoy the tranquility of the Gardens from 8am every day.

You’ll get exclusive entry before we open and have the chance to experience the unique beauty of Kew in the early morning light – the perfect way to start a summer’s day.

Why not make a pit stop at the Victoria Plaza Café where you can buy hot drinks and a range of breakfast snacks?

Become a member

Great Broad Walk Borders, RBG Kew
Great Broad Walk Borders, RBG Kew / Jeff Eden

Unwind with slow TV

If you’re not able to reach the Gardens or you just want to continue your experience, take a look at our summer slow TV episode.

As part of our YouTube series Slow down with Kew, this two-hour film captures the beauty of the Gardens in HD glory.

Sit back, relax and experience summer at Kew, journeying from the beautiful Rose Garden to the serene Natural Area.

Illustration of secret world of plants

Secret World of Plants

Rediscover the natural world and delight in its secret details with our summer series of immersive experiences.

Read & watch