23rd Annual Orchid Festival at Kew Gardens & Thai Afternoon Tea
So, it got sunny and then got colder again (can it be spring already?) but don’t worry: I have the perfect day out to cure your winter blues. If you hop on the District Line really far out to Kew Gardens, you’ll find until 11th March their 23rd Annual Orchid Festival in the Prince of Wales Conservatory (the 11th also happens to be Mothers Day, so you could totally book tickets for you and your Mum if she loves orchids, and what Mother doesn’t?) While I took loads of photos (below!) so readers around the country and across the world won’t miss out, if you’re in or around London you really need to see it in person to get the full effect!
I was going to put together a guide to everything you needed to know about opening times/ ticket prices/ what to expect, but my partner in crime for the day, Kelly, has put together a great ‘all you need to know about your visit’ post over on her blog. All I want to add is that the orchid festival is included in the general ticket price, so fingers crossed for a beautiful day when you go if you’ve never visited the gardens (this was my first trip) as there is so much to see, even in winter. That being said, tickets are cheaper if you book them in advance, and the things you can see at the orchid festival and in the other inside areas are worth the ticket price even if it is raining. Also, I took advantage of the fact on weekdays except during school holidays (though I somehow got one in half term) you can get a £12.50 local residents ticket if you book online and you live in Richmond, Kingston-upon-Thames, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, or Hounslow.
Go as early as you can as it gets a bit crowded, and be prepared for an utter sensory overload. Thousands of orchids all over the conservatory, growing as they would in the wild, woven into flower walls and archways, tamed into elaborate floral displays. They’ve got every single type of orchid you’ve ever seen, and thanks to the humid, jungle temperatures some of the rooms are kept at, many you’ve never even imagined.
While we were enjoying beautiful orchids and a wonderfully sunny day at Kew, a girls day out is not complete without something to eat and a few bubbles. I booked us into the Thai Afternoon Tea at The Botanical, near the Prince of Wales Greenhouse for a spot to eat. This special afternoon tea (at £29.50 a head) runs until the end of the orchid festival, and really rounded off our trip. Okay, the service was awful and the tea a bit pricy, but it was super filling, really tasty and I’d recommend it as the perfect way to round off your visit, but you do need to book. Even on a Monday afternoon lots of people were being turned away. However, if you’re visiting the festival at the weekends along with performances of traditional Thai music, there is Thai street food.
You can check out the menu for Thai Afternoon Tea at The Botanical here (be sure to order some bubbles and Jasmine tea to go with it!) and book a table here. Everything else you may need to know about planning your visit can be found here. If you’re stuck for what to do this weekend, I think this is probably the most beautiful, colourful thing going on in London right now, and the perfect treat for getting through winter!