Christmas at Kew Gardens 2013

Things to do


Kew Gardens

Until Sat Jan 4

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  • © Culture Creative

  • © Culture Creative

  • © Culture Creative

  • © RBG Kew

  • © RGB Kew / Andrew McRobb

  • © RGB Kew / Andrew McRobb

    Kew Gardens in the Snow

  • © RGB Kew

  • © RGB Kew / Andrew McRobb

    Kew's Temperate House in the snow

  • © RGB Kew / Andrew McRobb

    Holly berries in the snow

  • © RGB Kew / Andrew McRobb

    Pagaoda vista in the snow

  • © RGB Kew

  • © RGB Kew / Andrew McRobb

    Snowdrops at Kew

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1.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:2
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  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:18
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I agree with most reviewers here and think the event was a real let down, and very expensive. It was very crowded when I went with my mother, and we spent most of the trek within a large conga of people trudging through the dark and mud to the next 'attraction'. It was mainly children orientated, which I don't think was clear in the advertising, with a special discovery trail with a few strategic lanterns and strange sounds making up most of the entertainment. There was a beautiful display in the lily house, and we loved the son et lumiere event at the palm house, I just wish Kew had concentrated more of their efforts on this kind of thing, and within a smaller area of the park. Also amazed by Time Out's glowing review - so far from our experience!


I usually trust Time Out's reviews but they got it wrong big time with this rip-off. it is an expensive and totally underwhelming experienced .The illuminations amount to a few strategically placed coloured light bulbs and some lanterns on trees. It really lacked magic or any cohesive narrative. I would add that the walk was muddy,slippery & crowded with families and pushchairs-this is not a peaceful outing. My advice-avoid this expensive tourist trap & visit Kew during the day when you can fully appreciate it's beauty.


Very disappointing no Christmas atmosphere , pathetic market, expensive food and drink, extra cost for rides a complete rip off

David Blair

Pretty disappointing. The rain didn't help, granted but as many of the other reviews have said there was barely anything Christmas-y about it. Some nice under-lit trees and a couple of actors telling us to give this marble to the lady on the bridge who duly chucked it into a neon lit ring in the lake!??! And later a circle of torches all laid out in a fibonacci sequence which was totally lost on me as we weren't viewing it from above. An absolute rip off! Our kids must think adults are so lame! We were telling them we were going to a 'winter wonderland'! for the few days leading up to the trip. More like rainy English boring land...


Wow, £14 to walk around a dark park, the light show was pathetic, it is predominantly made up of every 5th or so tree being lit up by spot lights. There are speaker phones which you cannot understand and you would expect the trail to be lit by fair lights, but no, instead you are asked to bring a torch. Definitely not worth doing if you are between the ages of 18 - 35. The Christmas stalls are pretty average too.

Marianne Jones

Suspend your disbelief! I went to this with friends on Friday, determined to ignore the drizzle and enjoy a festive treat. Kew's collection displayed to perfection using some glorious lighting effects, ambient music and gratefully not over-crowded due to our wise decision to choose a later evening slot. Worth the price of admission for the spectacular fire garden alone and the final 'Palm House Rave' was entertainment with tongue firmly in cheek. No snow? I really didn't mind.


Went last night to this "event". Was pouring with rain, which didn't help with the Christmas atmosphere, but then neither did this cobbled together, money making debacle from Kew. This had money making during the winter written all over it. The illuminated trail, is just a shuffle through the gardens (due to the crowds), which on the website sounds rather magical, but is in fact no way Christmasy or magical in anyway. Trees with no leaves, poorly lit up by sparsely placed laterns, a magical festive experience does not make. There was a guy telling us about the trees and how they would "speak" to us through their tree root system - what??!! Is this meant to excite the children, because it certainly didn't me, and I'm pretty childish at the best of times. This walk was meant to take 75 mins? I could have done it quicker than that by crawling around on all fours, not that you'd want to as it was so muddy....anyway we did it in about 30 mins and that was with a pit stop to purchase some nibbles and hot drinks to relieve the already increasing boredom that was setting in. The walk finishes with the shop - boy did I feel Christmasy when I came across garden hoes and lavender products for sale! No I didn't. I was just glad of some cover from the rain to be honest. There were a few Christmas decorations on sale, but nothing you couldn't get anywhere else. As for the Christmas shops outside, it was a pretty pathetic showing if you ever been to Europe around Christmas time, Berlin and Prague certainly know how to to do this - we don't it seems. All in all another poor excuse for a Christmas event, that has somebody at Kew rubbing their hands together over their brilliant plan to earn some money over the winter period. I'm giving this 1 star as at least it wasn't cancelled like other such events in the news recently.... DONT BOTHER.

Samantha Rowlands

Very disappointing, we went last night and came away feeling very ripped off. Definitely not worth the face value of the tickets and the food and drink was all over priced. We failed to see what was Christmassy about any of the poorly lit trail and the pathetic excuse of a Christmas market was not worth the 2 minutes it took to walk round it. Not recommended.

mrs p iddenden

Very disappointing took 2 of my daughters and grandsons to which on there video looked so christmasy snowy winter wounderland lovely is what they said if you have snow on video get a snow machine like other events do, we travelled 3 hrs to get there to arrive at the closed car park where we had to park on a very creepy road like something from Sherlock homes days to walk what felt like 2 miles ton entrance. we booked a slot for 715 as earlier was booked to be told theres no times as long as its before 845 ?? whats that all about a few rubbish stalls all food hotdigs £5,00 as for the trail what a joke trees with lights under them not one Christmas feel to it at all santa was ok but on video he had a real beard not stuck on don't waste your time or money unless you live very close


Sparse, cheap and tacky and certainly not worth the effort that we made to get to this non-event. Possibly only worth a look with the kids on a dry night and if you live within walking distance. Even a few nicely lit trees at this important London landmark fails miserably to make a winter wonderland. The Palm house was lit up in different colours to some strained music but all very tame by today’s standards and there was no point or climax nor final ta da!! Nothing remotely Christmassy about this sad effort, it simply appears to be a cynical method for making money out of an established site name. In the indoor café, I was horrified to observe the amount of food, cakes and biscuits etc that were completely uncovered to be coughed and sneezed over and generally mauled by the passing general public. If we want the tourist quid shouldn’t we be offering a few more bells and whistles ? I am afraid to say they do these things much better in other countries, as much as it saddens this jaded old Englishman to say.


I was really looking forward to this but was very disappointed - lights were unimaginative, route was crowded, and the double booking fee is an insult. The 'Christmas market' was tiny and the stands selling poor quality tack. Not recommended.


Another sad event in the demise of Kew from world heritage site to theme park.....The two separate booking fees are insulting, Kew during the day is trampled and covered with litter as a result, not going to bother with this, Syon park half the price and more festive.


Not a winter wonderland just a walk around with the trees lit up. Very disappointed expected alot more for the money you pay.very poor.


Sounded good but was not really. Lots of sneaky add ons to ticket. Much more expensive than first led to believe. Offensive. Absence of transparent pricing. Like travelling with Ryan Air. Worse, even. You expect more from Kew. They even made it compulsory to fill in a marketing survey - not voluntary. Very bad mannered. Person in charge at Kew is apparently a marketing person, not a plant expert. Staff at event often gloomy, weird. I see that some of the comments here are made by people before they went, or people who went free on the preview. These people have given five stars. Not useful, should not be allowed on this site. This was neither Kew Gardens not Winter Wonderland. A bodge. Should have been either calmer and more spiritual, or more fun fair exciting. Credit where credit due - some of it very nice and enjoyable, but too much not. Some reminiscent of shop displays at Selfridges or seaside hotel lighting displays. High point was coming across the toilets half way through. No access to greenhouses - freezing cold outside, would have been nice, warming, appropriate. All the goodwill I have had over a lifetime for Kew kicked out of me by greedy, dishonest, sneaky, unpleasant marketing people. Horrible.


Really really disappointing. Nothing Christmassy about it at all. A few underlit trees, a couple of weirdy special effects, but mainly you're just walking around Kew Gardens in the dark. Honestly, don't bother.


OK, but the advertising was very misleading - it is not a Christmas trail and very few parts are illuminated. It was an experience, but not one either myself or the other four members of my family would repeat. Would not recommend to friends.


Fantastic lotus installation in waterlily house, but otherwise a bit disappointing, and why does every mid winter event have to focus on retail? particularly ironic in the context of one of the world's great gardens. Not sure why I'd pay£15 with two separate booking fees, and extras to pay inside when I could see a much better display over the river at Syon House for half the money. It felt a bit like someone was trying to cobble together a bit of the Eden Project and a bit of th Hyde Park extravaganza and ignoring the undoubted strengths of their own amazing site.


Booking fee and then a separate transaction fee on top is an absolute joke. Stop with the deception and just charge £15 on face value. I would still pay that but when they try and kid you into thinking a ticket is cheaper than it really is, that is just disrespectful to consumers. I'm not stupid.


Not very Christmassy at all very disappointed there was no magic as advertised market was ok mulled wine very poor and very expensive, Santa wasn't great either. Not worth money at all.


Not very Christmassy, more just a walk amongst the trees with lights on them! The mince pies were cold and small, and meeting Santa was disappointing, my two year old nephew got a present that was too old for him!

Sandie Jordan

I haven't been to Kew Gardens for some time, but this sounds so amazing, I can't wait to go! It will be worth the trip from Kent to join in the magical Christmas events listed!

james parker

A lovely opportunity to escape the rampant commercialism of the high steet Christmas and to enter a world of light in a magical place to simply enjoy as a family the true delights of Christmas with a host of things to delight the senses and ones eyes, Go on, fall in love.

andrea ferguson

I attended the preview evening and was blown away by the illuminated Trail, very original and beautiful. The Christmas village shops are not the usual 'German Market' shops but artisans from around the London area with unique items for sale. Great food, and of course, mulled wine on offer. This event is truly something different for the festive period.


The two separate booking fees are ridiculously greedy, especially if you want to go as a family. No discount AT ALL for members or season ticket holders either who pay enough as it is. Think i'll give this one a miss.

Lorraine Kruuse

I live in South Africa and will be visiting my daughter for Christmas. I have been to Kew Gardens on 1 previous occasions and absolutely loved it. What a treat it would be to see it all lit up epitomising the spirit of Christmas in a way we never see here. It looks absolutely amazing!


While this sounds lovely, I was disgusted by the two separate booking fees that would be applied to the £12.50 price advertised. I think it is very misleading as I would actually have to pay £15.75, 26% more expensive than advertised. Disgraceful.