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Orchids Festival at Kew

India’s vibrant and colourful culture celebrated in Kew’s Orchids Festival 2017
Kew Orchids Festival 2017

This February, visitors can chase away the winter blues and become immersed in an Indian celebration of vibrant colours, culture and magnificent plant life inside the tropical paradise of Kew Gardens’ Princess of Wales Conservatory during its 22nd annual Orchids Festival.

04 February – 05 March
The Princess of Wales Conservatory

A feast for the senses

As well as the usual visual displays, the sounds of India will surround visitors entering the steamy glasshouse. From the tones of milkmen’s bicycle bells and newspaper boys to the playful voices of school children, temple bells and muezzin calls, the Indian street will be brought to life.

This visual feast of colour will also feature elaborate floral displays inspired by a typical Indian market, including Kew’s own decorative rickshaws.

An infographic map will transport the visitor from the dreary British winter to the vibrancy and colour of India. The map, created by Tonwen Jones, includes drawings of India’s natural vegetation and landscapes.

A giant Indian flag created from 900 chrysanthemums will set the backdrop as visitors admire life-sized animal figures including an elephant, peacock and monkey.

Phalaenopsis drops will hang delicately from the ceiling and a beautifully embellished traditional Indian marriage swing will sway among the Vandas, with sari material adding an extra splash of colour.

This year’s pond display will explode with intense hues in a larger than life floral arrangement made up of Vanda, Dendrobium, Cymbidium and Paphiopedilum orchids, marrying traditional and modern culture.

‘This year’s Orchids festival is going to be something really special and different. It will immerse visitors in the sights, senses and sounds of India’s exotic and vibrant culture creating an explosion of unique and colourful beauty. We hope this journey will highlight the significance of plants in all walks of life, from the spiritual and medicinal to the textiles and cuisine, all the while showing the importance of plant diversity and Kew’s work to protect, conserve and study plants.’

Princess of Wales Conservatory Supervisor, RBG Kew

Entrance to the Festival will be free and included in the daily entrance ticket.

Festival talks and tours

Join Kew horticulturists and scientists for a series of scintillating talks exploring some fascinating Kew Science field trips to India, how the horticulture team built the magnificent displays, the diversity of the Indian Orchid and what plants are used in traditional Indian cuisine, as well as Kew’s important conservation work around the world.

You’ll also be able to take part in behind the scenes tours of the Orchid Nursery, where you’ll take in Kew’s vast collection and see how rarer orchids are nurtured and cared for. Tours take place at 1.30pm and 2.15pm on 09, 16, and 23 February and 02 March. Tours are £10 per person and booking is recommended.

Half-term activities

Take the kids to a colourful cultural feast during half-term with Indian block painting, Bodhi leaf colouring and Mandala design colouring, with designs inspired by Kew’s own Princess of Wales Conservatory, taking place between 11am and 3.30pm in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

A pop-up shop in the Princess of Wales Conservatory will be selling a range of products including scarves, jewellery, framed prints, bags, planters and much more. Orchid plants will also be on sale.

Food and film

Special Indian delights will be available from the onsite catering stops, including carrot halwa tart, Indian semolina and green cardamom cake, Goan trout, Shahi kofta and achari vegetables, plus a spiced afternoon tea.
Visitors can also try a special recipe, Chaaval Ki Kheer (spiced rice pudding) designed by famous Indian chef and cookbook author Monisha Bharadwaj.

Head to the Princess of Wales film to watch A Bouquet from Bengal, a film showcasing the uses of flowers and plants in everyday life in India, from the medicinal uses of local grown herbs and flora to the function of orchids in Indian cultural and scared customs.

The film captures both traditional and contemporary manifestations of floral and plant life, focusing primarily on the city of Kolkata. The film will be available for viewing Monday 06 February to Friday 10 February; Monday 20 February to Friday 24 February and Monday 27 February to Friday 03 March.

‘Orchids Lates’

After the success of the 2016 Kew Lates evenings, the Princess of Wales Conservatory will once again throw open its doors after dark for a series of intimate evenings among the hundreds and thousands of orchids and tropical flowers on display.

Experience an evening like no other in London with immersive sounds from electric violinist Jyotsna Srikanth, inspiring talks, adult colouring in and interactive workshops.

Drop in to the Indian wardrobe sessions or connect with your surroundings with a Vinyasa yoga class. The 20-minute classes at 6.30pm, 7.10pm, 7.30pm, 8.10pm, 8.30pm and 9.10pm will be a first come first serve basis with 30 spaces for each session. Spectators are welcome!

Master the art of cooking with Indian ingredients at drop-in sessions with famous Indian chef and cookbook author Monisha Bharadwaj. Explore how fennel aids digestion and how ginger and turmeric can create a special tea. Take some inspiration home with a Henna hand tattoo or a treat from the Kew pop-up shop.

Enjoy everything from chicken malai and samosas to tandoori salmon rillet and exotic Indian cocktails which will be available for purchase on the night.

Thursday 09/16/23 February and 02 March
Tuesday 14/21 and 28 February

6.00pm – 9.30pm

Tickets are £15.00 per person or £13.50 for members
This event is for over-18s

Click here for more on Kew’s Orchids Festival.

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