A much-needed splash of colour comes to west London this February, in the form of Kew Gardens' annual Orchids festival.
The celebration of the popular bloom this year focuses on Cameroon; the West African country is home to some of the world's most threatened species of orchid, and is the first African nation to feature in the festival, which has previously featured Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia and Thailand.
Large sculptures of Cameroonian wildlife including giraffes, gorillas, hippos and lions will be on display, created by Kew's expert horticulturalists from living orchids and other plants. Colourful floral arches are also a feature of the festival every year, so look out for those being splashed all over Instagram again.
New for 2023 is a photography exhibition from the Bikoka Art Project, an initiative offering artistic and professional opportunities to young creatives in Lolodorf, Cameroon. Everyday scenes and spectacular landscapes from Lolodorf and beyond will be on display at the South End of Kew's Princess of Wales Conservatory, where the Orchids festival is located.
Orchids After Hours 2023
For an extra-special experience, Orchids After Hours is back for 2023. The event takes place in the Princess of Wales Conservatory from 6pm-10pm on selected evenings, allowing you to surround yourself with the orchid displays after daytime visitors have left (it's an adults-only event — and would make a rather special Valentine's night out).
Live performances and cooking demonstrations inspired by Cameroon take place throughout the evening, and cocktails are available to enjoy as you wander among the orchids, specially illuminated after dark.
Orchids at Kew Gardens is open 4 February-5 March 2o23. It's included in admission to the gardens — as is the current When Flowers Dream exhibition. Anyone receiving Universal Credit, Pension Credit or Legacy Benefits can get access to Kew Gardens for £1, at any time of year.
Orchids After Hours takes place on 10, 11, 17 and 18 February, and requires a separate ticket.