30 September 2023

Best things to do at Kew this autumn

From woodland walks to our Queer Nature festival, there's plenty to do at Kew Gardens this autumn.

By Ellen McHale , Kate Dickinson , Ellen Reid and Ellie Wilson

Fallen yellow autumn leaves at Kew

The Gardens have come alive with the rich colours of autumn. 

Get outside this season, breathe in the fresh air and spot our autumnal highlights. 

Revel in the change of colours

Enjoy the sensual delight of autumn, with vibrant colours, crisp leaves, petrichor and other seasonal smells.

There are many places to enjoy the dramatic changes that take place in our Gardens, but the best spots for blazes of colour are the Treetop Walkway and the Arboretum (which has 14,000 trees to discover).

The Grass Garden is also stunning at this time of year, exhibiting plenty of hues and textures, and don’t miss out on the daily walking tour: a free and fun way to learn more about the Gardens.

Autumn canopy of colourful leaves
Autumn, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

Explore art

Mat Collishaw: Petrichor is an exciting exploration of the relationship between art and nature. 

Featuring several debut pieces alongside existing works from one of the UK's leading contemporary artists, this brand new exhibition uses pioneering techniques including laser scanning, genetic algorithms and carefully deployed AI – combined with 17th century still-lifes and 800 year old oak trees.

Petrichor runs from 20 October 2023 to 7 April 2024 at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical art. Entry is included with your ticket to Kew Gardens.

Close up of AI-enhanced natural image collage
Mat Collishaw: Petrichor
A large tree rendered in white against a black background
Albion © Mat Collishaw

Whilst at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, don't miss the Young Botanical Artist competition

Running from 20 October 2023 to 7 April 2024, we're showcasing the world's most talented botanical artists aged 16-25.

watercolour painting of a partially brown Bauhinia variegata leaf, showing two lobes and fine details of the veins and discolouration
Bauhinia variegata leaf © Khanh Ly Nguyen

Adventure outdoors

Let children run wild at our Children’s Garden. Find bouncy pads, run rings around an ancient oak, and slide to your heart’s content.

Go on a wander through our Gardens to find the log trail, fun for children big and small. On the way, look out for fungi nestled in fallen leaves, bright autumnal berries, and Kew’s resident foxes and badgers. 

Adults can challenge themselves to walk the perimeter of Kew. With the Gardens measuring a whopping 300 acres, you're sure to slam your step count this week!

Blurred movements of children running fast in the children's garden under coloured windmills
Children in The Children's Garden

Roam free

Head to Wakehurst and explore our gardens in the heart of the Sussex countryside.

Our sister site is home to beautiful woodlands, rolling hills and rare plants like the Wollemi pine. 

Jump through muddy puddles, or see what wildlife you can spot in our peaceful landscape.

Horticultural highlights at Wakehurst

  • Smell the brown leaves of the candyfloss tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) for that sweet, fairground smell. 
  • Meet our incredible redwoods in Horsebridge Wood. These resilient giants have fire resistant bark and live for thousands of years. 
  • Spot the golden larch (Pseudolarix amabilis), also known as the 'Halloween tree’ because the flame-coloured branches turn the colour of pumpkins. 
Autumn colours of trees at Wakehurst
Autumn colours at Wakehurst, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

Feed your mind

Head back to school this autumn with our new range of short courses

Whether you're a budding botanical artist, a clever crafter or a green-fingered type, we've got something for everyone.

Try your hand at metalwork or stone carving, learn to make ink and mix paints from the plants around you, discover how to grow your own mushrooms or create your own delicate papercut lightbox to bring a touch of cosiness to your home as the nights draw in.

A hand holding up a hessian sack with mushrooms growing from it
Grow-at-home mushroom kit © Caley Brothers

Moments of calm

Kew has some ideal spots for quiet contemplation, where you can immerse yourself in the landscape and notice small details.

The Lake Crossing is the perfect pause for autumnal reflections on the water.

A stroll through the Rock Garden will reward you with late-flowering sedums, autumn crocuses and silver vegetation.

Bask in peak tranquility in the Japanese Landscape, brimming with fiery foliage.

Or relax at King William’s Temple, one of Kew’s historical structures built in 1837 for Queen Victoria (and a lovely place for a cuppa from one of our cafes). 

Autumn tree,  Ellen McHale © RBG Kew
Autumn tree, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

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