This is a sponsored article on behalf of Kew Gardens.
One of London’s few UNESCO World Heritage sites, Kew Gardens is a true horticultural haven. Summer means long, lazy days exploring the 500 acres of woodland, myriad gardens and tropical glasshouses – maybe even a picnic or two. But when the sun fades and the nights draw in? This year, Kew Gardens has got something extra special up its sleeve.
A whole new realm of enchantment awaits at Chihuly Nights, the after-dark spectacular that lights up the botanical gardens long after the daytime crowds have gone home. Perhaps you’ve already heard of Dale Chihuly, one of the most celebrated contemporary glass artists in the world. His exhibition at Kew Gardens has been a huge hit with visitors since opening in April, with crowds flocking to admire the 32 intricate installations nestled around the grounds.
Now, for the very first time, you can discover these photogenic works in the stunning setting of Kew Gardens at twilight.
When darkness creeps in, watch the magic take hold as Chihuly’s ethereal artworks gradually glow into life. Each has found its own slice of home among nature — beautiful forms arching out of the grass, glinting over the lake, even suspended among the vines from the Temperate House ceiling. All shapes, colours and sizes, they're the delicate glass counterparts to their earth-bound cousins. But to see them lit up after dark? It’s truly a sight to behold.
Time it just right and you may even be treated to London’s most Instagrammable moment: watching the sculptures at sunset. Find a place of stillness as the light fades and admire how the sculptures first reflect the sky's changing colours, then slowly begin to radiate colours all of their own.
Music accompanies you as you wander — an evolving soundscape created especially for the event by American composer, Nico Muhly. Wind instruments, the organ, and even the human voice have all been carefully curated to complement the exhibition. There are live musicians too, improvising against the soundtrack to reverberate a unique score inside the Temperate House, the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse. They may even ask you to add your own sound to the composition.
It’s a captivating experience, but when you’re ready to return to reality there’s still more to enjoy. No late opening is complete without a good dose of food and drink, and Chihuly Nights doesn’t disappoint.
Take a seat on the vine-covered terrace of the newly-opened Pavilion Bar and Grill, set in the heart of Kew’s arboretum, and work your way through the seasonal menu. Live music is on offer here too so you’ll never be too far from the action.
Chihuly Nights is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to celebrate the beauty of art and nature in tandem. Just remember to bring a torch and dress for the weather — it may be all sorts of magical but it is still an outdoor event after all.
Chihuly Nights at Kew Gardens takes place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 26 October 2019. Tickets are £18 (£12 members) and should be booked in advance.