25 September 2023

Top things to do at Wakehurst this Autumn

A seasonal adventure awaits!

A woman walks towards golden birch trees in autumn

As the leaves transform the landscape into a breathtaking tapestry of autumn hues, join us to embrace this beautiful season. 

Whether you're an avid photographer, planning a family outing, or already thinking about the festive season, there's something for everyone to enjoy at Wakehurst this autumn. 

1. Go on a fungi hunt  

While wandering through our wild landscapes, don't forget to stop and look out for weird and wonderful fungi on the woodland floor.  

These organisms are exceptionally important to life on Earth, keeping the natural world in balance through symbiotic relationships with plants and animals, and helping to break down dead and decaying matter. 

Venture through hotspots such as Westwood Valley, the Pinetum, Bethlehem Wood and Coates Wood to see what shapes, colours and textures you can find.   

2. Discover our autumn hotspots. 

Autumn is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular seasons at Wakehurst, with gardens ablaze in vibrant reds, burnt oranges, and stunning golds. It’s the season for filling your feed with fallen leaves, misty mornings and moody reflections – even on the most overcast days, a bright orange tree can really pop.  

Follow our list below for our top autumn colour spots:

  • Mansion Pond: for a sensory delight of colourful acers and shrubs, and a prime photo spot for Planet Wakehurst  
  • Bethlehem Wood: for bright yellow birches and leaf piles galore 
  • Water Gardens: for a spectrum of colour and leisurely boardwalk strolls  
  • Westwood Valley: for dramatic ravines, late flowering rhododendrons and a haven for fungi 
  • Westwood Lake: for stunning reflections and the ultimate autumn snap 

Did you know? Leaves turn a different colour in the autumn due to hormonal changes in the tree, triggered by longer nights as the summer comes to an end.

Three children through leaves up in the air. An autumnal woodland is in the background
Autumn in Bethlehem Wood, Jim Holden © RBG Kew
Autumnal shrubs and bushes reflect on a pond.
Mansion Pond in autumn, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

3. Warm up with tasty treats  

From a hot drink at Seeds Café to fuel your day, to hearty meals at Stables Kitchen to round it all off, our restaurants and cafés serve up tasty treats and warming drinks to keep you going.  

Want to bring your own food? No problem! Pack a picnic and get your thermos ready for lunch in a wild landscape.  

Two women sit at a table in Stables Pantry cafe.
Stables Pantry, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

4. Nurture young minds 

Our Explorer Rucksacks are updated each season to ensure that young minds are enriched through changing colours, patterns and wildlife throughout the year.  

Get hands-on with collecting, become a wildlife detective or go on an investigative expedition. 

Explorer Rucksacks are available to book online and can be picked up at the Visitor Centre.  

Two children wearing Wakehurst Explorer Rucksacks sit under a tree, looking at a clipboard.
Explorer Rucksacks, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

5. See autumn colour from new heights 

As part of our Planet Wakehurst art installation, the 33ft high Canopy Walk is open throughout the year, giving you a bird's eye view of our ever-changing landscape.  

Looking over Mansion Pond and beyond, see the gardens transform from green to gold, and marvel as the sun begins to set on the horizon.  

Two women look out of the Canopy Walk viewpoint, holding up their phones to take photos of the view across Wakehurst.
The Canopy Walk, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

6. Shelter from the weather in the most biodiverse place in the world  

Even on a drizzly day, there’s plenty for adventurers young and old to enjoy.  

Why not step inside the most biodiverse place on Earth? Home to an underground collection of 2.4 billion seeds, the Millennium Seed Bank is a safehouse for seeds from across the globe.  

Shelter from the weather and spy on scientists at work, or learn something new at our specially curated exhibition Surviving or Thriving

The interior of the Millennium Seed Bank Atrium, there are glass cabinets with displays and a long table with interpretation.
Surviving or Thriving, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

7. Get in the festive spirit 

As autumn colour descends on the gardens, the air gets crisper and the evenings get darker. 

The holidays edge ever closer and here at Wakehurst, we’ve got everything you need to start feeling festive! Ensure your door is the best dressed in town with a wreath-making workshop or start your shopping at the Visitor Centre Shop.  

We’ve got you sorted, with gifts for the foodies, plant-lovers, or little adventurers in your life. Don’t forget, members get an additional 10% off and benefit from an extra discount week in November.  

Shelves of products in the Wakehurst shop, including beauty products and drinks.
Retail at the Visitor Centre, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

8. Book your tickets to Glow Wild’s 10th anniversary 

As your calendar fills up with play dates, work parties and family reunions, make sure Glow Wild is on your agenda. 

This year’s winter lantern trail is set to be extra-special as we’re celebrating 10 years of Glow Wild. From a giant illuminated whale to projections that transform Planet Wakehurst, the trail is packed with surprises.  

Not 100% sure on a date? You can book a flexible ticket that can be swapped or upgraded up to 72 hours before your booking, to work around life’s unpredictability!  

Discover Glow Wild 2023

A mother and two young children in front of a row of colourful glowing lanterns.
Glow Wild at Wakehurst, James Ratchford © RBG Kew

9. Become a member  

With so much to experience at Wakehurst this autumn, you'll need to visit more than once! 

Wakehurst members benefit from unlimited entry all year round, so you can experience all the autumn highlights and much more.  

With exclusive early openings on selected weekends, discounts on our flagship events, 10% discount in the shop and more, there are so many reasons to become a member – or gift it to somebody else! 

Explore Wakehurst membership

A couple walking across a small bridge over a stream. In the foreground are golden trees.
Water Gardens in autumn, James Ratchford © RBG Kew

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