Kew Gardens’ celebration of the orchid returns for its twenty-fourth year, and yet somehow this is the first year I’ve ever heard of it? Since the weather has been gorgeous lately, I decided to take a trip to see the 6,200 orchids that have been installed at Kew Gardens for the annual Orchid Festival.
As in previous years, the 2019 Orchid Festival takes inspiration from overseas. Previous displays paid homage to countries including Brazil, India, and last year, it was Thailand. This year, Colombia gets the Kew Gardens treatment. I had no idea that humans only arrived in Colombia just 15,000 years ago. Also that it is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, boasting 4270 species of orchids alone.
As soon as we arrived at the ticket booth, the staff warned us that it is a very popular attraction and the queue can be up to an hour long. Considering we had got there late afternoon, we decided to head straight there.
The event is taking place in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, where the whole place has been transformed by 100 staff members, taking 30 days to create! That’s an incredible achievement!
The queue was already at 25 minutes long by the time we got there. In all honesty, I completely get why they had controlled the public coming into the conservatory. You really do need space to see and appreciate the flowers in all it’s glory.
The Colombian theme inside the conservatory included a “carnival of animals” made of orchids, including eye-catching depictions of toucans, sloths, turtles, and life-sized jaguars. My favourite was of course the sloth hanging from foliage and I must admit I waited longer than I would usually to get a photo with it!
The festival also brought to life Colombian landmarks, including its rainforests. Colourful arches of flowers adorn the upper walkways of the tropical greenhouse, while downstairs, hundreds of vivid vandas (a type of orchid) hang from the ceiling to represent Colombia’s stunning ‘rainbow river’ of Caño Cristales – along with a golden display meant to evoke the mythical El Dorado.
Considering that you don’t have to pay an extra fee to enjoy this beautiful exhibit, I think it’s definitely worth visiting. You can see just how much care and attention to detail has been put into bring this whole vision to life.
Kew Gardens is a wonderful day out on a normal day and when there is an attraction, then its 1000% worth going. However I would recommend going early and spending the whole day there to get your moneys worth. Also it’s worth noting that the queues don’t die down, so don’t leave the Orchid festival until the end of the day. If anything, they let larger groups of people go in together towards the end so it doesn’t make great viewing.
The Orchid Festival runs from 9 February until 10 March 2019. Tickets can be bought online (here) or on the day.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. It’s a great day out and it’s a lovely way to celebrate the start of spring.