The Kew Gardens experience is one of those bucket list types of activities, which everyone should consider a top priority when they pay a visit to London. These majestic Royal Botanic Gardens are awe-inspiring and truly expansive – even returning visitors will see things they had not seen on the previous visit, especially when there are often short-lived installations and exhibits to see, like the Orchid Festival. In the same way that you can’t go to Montcalm Royal London House as a cocktail-fan without ordering a drink from the bird-themed, 10th floor rooftop bar, The Aviary, you similarly can’t visit London as a nature-admirer and not visit Kew Gardens. Luckily for you, if you are visiting this February and March, the experience will really be cranked up a notch while Kew Gardens Orchid Festival is on for the public to admire… And admire you certainly will. Here is everything there is to know about the festival and how you can see it.
What is it?
Every year, with this year marking the 25th, Kew Gardens puts on the Orchid Festival – one of the greatest, most artistic nature shows in the world, celebrating wildlife and plant diversity from around the world with a different country theme each year. The festival aims to showcase the vital science work Kew Gardens’ is doing in different countries around the world, as well as the way in which it strives to maintain, protect and encourage biodiversity. On top of that, it is ultimately a reminder to everyone that no matter the difficulties taking place in the world right now, there is still exceeding amounts of beauty in it and it is our responsibility to protect it.
This year, for the 2020 Orchid Festival, the theme’s country is Indonesia. This means you can expect to find outstandingly bright and beautiful displays which pay homage to the vast archipelago of more than 17,504 islands, including natural hotspots like Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, Papua and Bali.
Where is it?
While Kew Gardens is obviously the venue for this remarkable natural showcase of flora and fauna, it takes place specifically in the Princess of Wales Conservatory within the gardens, which is a spectacular glasshouse with different zones of orchids based on type, colour and many more fascinating classifications. The physical address is: Royal Botanic Gardens, Richmond TW9 3AB. The closest train station is either Kew Bridge on South Western Railway or Kew Gardens on the Overground. There are also a series of buses that travel from all over London to the South West, so figure out your best route and enjoy.
When is it?
Book those rooms in the Montcalm Hotel and keep your eye out for London hotels special offers for the second week of February, because the Orchid Festival is taking place from Saturday 8 February until Sunday 8 March 2020.
What you will see?
It is, quite simply, an Orchid Festival (and one of the best in the world, for that matter), so it goes without saying that you will see a wide variety of orchids. However, let us unpack that a bit. Indonesia is home to over 4000 species of orchid, as well as a number of other native plants to the region. So, though they are all orchids by name, you can expect to see a vast selection of different plants. No matter how well you think you know the orchid plant, you can expect to be utterly wowed by the variety.
What else can you do?
If wandering through the utter paradise that is the Princess of Wales Conservatory bustling with beautiful orchids isn’t enough to convince you that this is where you need to be, there will also be festive Indonesian music, traditional dance and delicious, authentic Indonesian food. A key fixture of the festival are the series of after-hours events. The Orchid After Hours events are very special additions to what is already a pretty remarkable day out, and it is recommended you do this as it is all part of making the most that you possibly can of this splendid festival. The After Hours events are additional costs, but the depth of experience makes it well worth the cost.
Though London is teeming with opportunities to enjoy wildlife and trees at no cost at the various royal parks, such as Hyde Park near Montcalm Marble Arch and Regent’s Park, Kew Gardens is unfortunately not a cost-free experience. However, the tickets are always worth every penny, because it involves so much beauty, such variety, and you know that the money you pay goes into maintaining the wonderful gardens as well as funding research projects and supporting biodiversity.
The Orchid Festival itself is not a ticketed event, though – you pay for entry into Kew Gardens and then the exhibit comes as part of the package. This is particularly great because it means that you can explore the year-round arboretum and flowers as well as enjoying the unique festival. Tickets start at £12.50, and there are options to buy for groups, which makes the tickets cheaper per person. So, there is only one thing to it: get a group together and enjoy.
Top tip: if you buy your tickets online, you save on entry! Not to mention, if you buy a membership, all events are free.
Though you have the basics of everything you need to know here, there may be a few more burning questions on your mind before you jump on the train from your Montcalm Hotel and head to Kew Gardens. If this is the case, then head to kew.org.
By now, you are likely to be absolutely desperate to get yourself to this festival and explore in wonder as the world of Indonesian wildlife and plant diversity unfold before your eyes. Don’t let that remain just an idle hope. Instead, if you haven’t done it already, book your luxury room at Barbican Rooms and set aside a frosty afternoon in February to do it.