Every year we try to do something a bit different for Christmas. While H still believes, it’s about finding good Father Christmases, but as she gets older it’s also about finding things for us parents too – so this year we bought tickets for Christmas at Kew.
Christmas at Kew lives within Kew Gardens, a place we’ve only been once before (which is shameful!) – we knew there would be plenty of walking and it would be a cold night, so wrapped up warm to make the drive.
I have to say, Christmas at Kew isn’t well signposted from the Mortlake direction. I know, I know, you should know where Kew Gardens are, and we did – we just missed the turning to had to do a u-turn on the bridge. Once parked there was plenty of space (we booked in for 6.30) and we were in the grounds quickly, heading for the lit-up pathway which takes you around the park.
My memories of Kew got muddled with a few other places (like Wisley) but the trail was easy enough to follow – we headed straight for food and bought calzone pizza at £5.50 each – take plenty of cash with you! There were hot drinks stalls and snack (biscuits, marshmallows, doughnuts) stands around the gardens, but we stuck to the drinks.
Father Christmas was a bit of a walk, and once we were there, there was quite a long queue. They do allow everyone in groups of 20 so be prepared to wait (we had 10-15 minutes) in the cold – it was about three degrees! Once we were inside, a Christmas Elf kept us entertained until it was our turn to go in. Father Christmas handed all the children a well wrapped book (one we don’t have), and while there was no individual photo opportunity, it was still fantastic. Coming out of the Grotto, you’re right by the butterflies – ohhh the warmth! You just turn up to Father Christmas and it costs £4.
Aside from that, alot of Christmas at Kew is walking around the grounds – things you would recognise in daylight look different in the dark, which made it enjoyable for all of us. H got to say a Christmas wish into a lantern, which you could pay £2.50 to keep, or it could be lit and put on the wishing tree for free. We went for the latter, mainly as we were rushing to Santa’s Grotto (which was in the Princess of Wales conservatory)!
The Palm House had a great light, fire and music display, while the lake at the front had a nice music and water fountain display – cue lots of “wowwwwww!!!”s From H – she loved it.
Seeing the grounds all lit up, and having a funfair was a great idea too. H went on the Helter Skelter and Carousel – both were £2 with the Helter Skelter price including Shaun to accompany her and slide down. There were lots of food choices, though less vegetarian options other than inside the main cafe.
We left, pretty cold but happy. We had a wonderful time and if you’re reading this and are set to go, the main advice I can offer is – wrap up warm, and take enough cash with you! You do keep moving around but there aren’t that many warm places other than indoors. H loved Santa and I was impressed with how they did it – each child got a gift and had a huge smile on their face. I could smell the mulled wine (hurrah! My sense of smell must be returning!) and enjoyed a hot chocolate while walking around.