28 October 2022

Best things to do at Wakehurst this winter

Plan the perfect wintery day out.

By Grace Brewer , Katie Avis-Riordan and Ellen McHale

Frost on a plant at Kew

Winter is a stunning time of year to visit our wild botanic garden here in Sussex.

Explore our wonderful woodlands, experience the magic of Glow Wild and see if you can spot foxes, owls and kingfishers.

Visit Wakehurst

Cyclamen and snowdrops in Wakehurst's Winter Garden
Cyclamen and snowdrops in Wakehurst's Winter Garden, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

Wander in our Winter Garden

Bursting with seasonal colour, our Winter Garden is the perfect place to take a stroll during the colder months at Wakehurst.

Notice the rich fragrances, dazzling blooms and beautiful tree barks as you walk along the winding garden path.

It’s home to Himalayan silver birch trees (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii) with their gleaming white trunks, witch hazel (Hamamelis) oozing an enticing perfume, dainty white snowdrops (Galanthus) and Siberian dogwood (Cornus alba 'Sibirica') with its striking fiery hues.

The garden looks particularly enchanting with a dusting of frost on chilly mornings.

Badger walking over a tree root
Badgers, James Warwick © RBG Kew
Resting dormice in the Loder Valley Nature Reserve
Dormice, Steve Robinson ©RBG Kew

Spot wildlife 

The gardens are alive with wildlife in the colder months. Can you spot any kingfishers or herons among the mix of wetlands, meadows and woodland here?

Listen for the drumming sound of great spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) marking their territory. You can also spot roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) who like to hunt for nutritious bramble shoots. 

Even if you find yourself at Wakehurst on a rainy day, there will still be plenty of wildlife about — keep your eyes peeled for wet-weather-loving animals like frogs, toads, ducks and snails.

Mother and child enjoy glow of handheld lanterns
Child enjoys Glow Wild © James Ratchford

Glow Wild

Our award-winning winter lantern trail is back for the ninth year, featuring a brand-new route and packed full of other surprises!

As darkness falls, explore the gardens as they are brought to life with beautifully hand-crafted lanterns and captivating light installations.

It’s the ultimate baby sensory experience – and under 4s go free. Make it a Christmas to remember with the whole family!

Book Glow Wild tickets

Himalayan Glade at Wakehurst in winter
Himalayan Glade at Wakehurst in winter, Jim Holden © RBG Kew
A large tree growing on top of a large rock in a woodland
Rock Walk at Wakehurst © Jim Holden

Admire the trees

Winter is a brilliant season to see the magnificent natural architecture of leafless deciduous trees.

Head down to Bethlehem Wood to see the stark beauty of Wakehurst’s National Collection of birch trees (Betula).

Their peeling bark and multi-coloured trunks are a spectrum of shades, from dark brown to silvery white.

For evergreen colour, journey through the beautiful conifers in the secluded Pinetum.

The majestic Apache pine (Pinus engelmanii), Taiwania and plum pine (Podocarpus) are some of the treasures living here.

Venture to Coates Wood to spot the beautiful evergreen Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) and Eucalyptus.

Couple walking over a bridge at Wakehurst in autumn
Couple exploring Wakehurst, James Ratchford © RBG Kew

Have a heart-warming date

Whether you’ve just swiped right, or have been together for many winters, bundle up in your winter coats, lace up your hiking boots and head into the wild landscape for a wintery adventure.

For a date night with a difference, book our adults-only session at Glow Wild. Booking the 8pm slot means more quiet moments on the trail and a chance to have the best selfie spots to yourself, so grab yourself a mulled wine and take a wander amongst the twinkling lanterns.

When darkness falls, Wakehurst is easily one of the most magical Christmas spots and toasting marshmallows under the Christmas tree is a gorgeous way to end a date, or a hangout with friends.

Book tickets for Glow Wild

Moon and star lanterns, deer installation, tallest-living Christmas tree and lanterns at Glow Wild 2022

Glow Wild 2022

Join us at Wakehurst on a spellbinding winter lantern trail for all ages.

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