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Kew’s festive light trail is back – and it’s bigger than ever

By Anya Meyerowitz

There are certain markers that let us know the festive period has officially begun: light shows being switched on across the city; window displays featuring sparkles and copious amounts of synthetic snow; and the appearance of those blue tins of Roses chocolates. Most exciting of all, though, is Christmas at Kew. This yearly event is an opportunity to immerse yourself in all the joys of the season, from toasting marshmallows on an open fire to sipping mulled wine as you listen to Christmas carols, all the while surrounded by larger-than-life light installations. 

It opens tonight, with a brand-new, after-dark light installation that’s longer than ever before. And we’ve had a first look. 

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Those who have been before will recognise some old favourites as well as a whole host of fresh projections and displays, including a cascade of glowing bulbs illuminating the Treetop Walkway. It’s an amazing large-scale installation, akin to standing in the middle of a glittery waterfall.  

Photograph: Jeff Eden/RBG Kew

The immersive vine installation promises to be a favourite with children and adults alike. It allows you to wander through changing ribbons of light. Just watch out for people pausing for selfies midway – or prepare to guest star in a few. 

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Keep an ear out for some recognisable tunes too, from an atmospheric smoking arch playing ‘Harry Potter’ music to a tree-lined walkway lighting up to the tune of animated historical fantasy ‘Anastasia’. There’s also a colourful cherry tree walk, with the wintery trees wrapped in pink fairy lights. 

Photograph: Jeff Eden/RBG Kew

The Temperate House gets in on the action this year with a colourful display set to festive melodies.

Photograph: Stuart Davidson/RBG Kew

The showstopper, once again, is the Palm House Pond finale with jumping light jets, dancing fountains and an animated show projected on to the magnificent glass structure behind. It’s impossible not to get sucked into the Christmas spirit. 
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This year’s winter trail offers lots more food and drink stops, as well as a hub of festive-themed food trucks at the start and end of the circular walk. Tuck into deluxe hot dogs, churros or award-winning pies, and pick up a steaming cup of spiced cider or hot chocolate on your way round. 

If we could give you one word of advice here, it would be: tissues – bring them for when the marshmallow-toasting gets a little sticky. 

Christmas at Kew is on until January 5 2020. Tickets from £18. Find out more and book here 

Looking for ways to keep the festivities going? Our guide to the capital’s Christmas programme will keep you busy!

Whether you want to get your skates on at these wintery ice rinks, curl up under a blanket at London’s cosiest winter pop-ups or get gift buying at the best Christmas shops, you’ll find something that will warm the heart of even the biggest Scrooge in your life. 

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