The hugely popular Christmas at Kew event opens again for the festive season on 25 November. We talk to Ellie Barnatt, Senior Commercial Events Manager, RBG Kew Enterprises to find out more.
This year’s Christmas at Kew will be the fourth time the event has taken place. How and why did the original idea for the event come about?
We were looking for a long-term event for the winter season. We visited other light festivals in Europe for inspiration and developed the concept of a magical after-dark experience that is created specifically about our landscape. Visitors already have the opportunity to see the Gardens all year round by day, so this was a chance to show off their beauty by night, and to show off our key tree specimens and some of our iconic buildings in a new light, swathed in seasonal colour.
How has the event developed / grown over the years and is there anything that will be brand new for the 2016 trail?
The challenge for any event is too keep it fresh year on year, but without straying too far from the original concept which has proved such a hit. This year we have eight newly commissioned artworks from both UK and international artists and designers, some of whom have never before exhibited at Kew. There will also be the opportunity to experience the much-celebrated Hive installation glowing against the night sky. We have kept firm favourites such as the Fire Garden, pea light tunnel and the Palm House finale show and these too will also receive exciting new treatments.
Why do you think that Christmas at Kew has become such a popular event?
Christmas at Kew celebrates of the magic and joy of the festive season and really does have something for everyone across the generations. We hear many visitors say that they feel Christmas starts for them when they all meet up for Christmas at Kew with family or friends.
Christmas at Kew is very much a family friendly event. What specifically is there for younger visitors to enjoy?
With over 60,000 lights on the trail, there’s plenty of sparkle to light up little ones’ eyes with excitement. Younger visitors in particular will enjoy seeing Santa and his elves in our North Pole Village and the Vintage Funfair rides in the Victorian funfair.
What are you most excited about for this year’s event?
It has to be the Hive as it is such an amazing opportunity to be able to include it in the trail. Visitors will pass Wolfgang Buttress’ spectacular bee inspired installation, with its beguiling soundscape drifting from within and boasting 1,000 LEDs that pulsate and glow against the night sky.