Christmas at Kew – a surreal and very non-Xmassy affair

18 Dec

Earlier this week, I went to Kew Gardens to ‘follow an illuminated trail through our enchanting winter landscape.’  I’d seen the adverts everywhere and excitedly booked tickets for me and my friend as a way to get into the Christmas spirit.  I envisaged beautiful traditionally lit trees, Christmas markets and gorgeous scenery.  The reality, however, turned out to be rather different to my expectations.

It probably didn’t help that it was raining when we went but the whole affair seemed to have been incorrectly marketed.  Firstly, it wasn’t exactly a Christmassy walk – in fact, there was nothing Christmassy about the walk.  It was more of a surreal experience with a dominant theme being ‘plant whispering’ and some actors were rather half-heartedly rambling on about how plants can communicate to each other through a series of strange noises.  Who this was aimed at was rather unclear – the children that had been dragged along expecting to see elves and Christmas trees stood confused as they were handed a marble which they then threw into a lake which prompted the plants to “communicate” back.  My friend threw a marble into the lake and we had to practically strain our ears to hear a noise which ended up sounding like a tiny little belch.  Strange.

Throughout the trail, there were several gramophones around playing noises of the plants, which contributed to the rather bizarre atmosphere.  There were some aesthetically beautiful moments – there was one part where a section of landscape was lit up and children (or adults) could press buttons that emitted rave-like sounds which was rather entertaining.  There was also the Field of Fire (as in my blurry picture below) which was strangely hypnotising and an inspired art installation entitled ‘The Waterlily’.  


The trail ended with a fun lights show which illuminated the main Kew greenhouse in all its glory, lighting it up in different colours in time with the music.  The whole event seemed to be more a surreal exploration of light and sound amongst nature which is why I think many families must have finished the trail sorely disappointed.  The Christmas Village was rather mediocre and the rides were small and targeted to children – fair enough perhaps! 

In conclusion, the Christmas trail was not at all what it promised to be, however if you’re willing to forgo all expectations, there are parts that are aesthetically beautiful, especially so at night time and we still managed to enjoy ourselves!


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