Thailand inspiration for Kew orchid festival

Thailand’s vibrant colours and magnificent plant life will form the centerpiece of Kew Gardens 23rd annual Orchid Festival commencing on 10th February 2018 and running until the 11th March. This is the first time that Thailand has been the inspiration for the festival, which will be held in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

Colourful displays will welcome visitors as they enter the tropical glasshouse and wander through a magnificent Vanda tunnel bedecked with orchids of all colours, with three arches delicately covered with hanging orchids.

Handcrafted floating Thai umbrellas will lead visitors to an exquisite Bang Pa-in inspired orchid palace. A traditional Thai market boat and rice paddy will form a water display representing a typical bucolic scene, complete with a special Thai cart on loan from the Royal Thai Embassy, London.

Visitors will also be able to immerse themselves in the sounds of Thailand’s everyday hustle and bustle as they enter the steamy glasshouse. The Princess of Wales Conservatory film room will be transformed into a versatile Thai themed activity area, where visitors can take a seat, put their feet up and learn about the beauty of orchids through a specially commissioned film or take part in a fun packed family workshop over half-term week. During the festival, weekends will be packed with foodie fun, live music and thought- provoking walks and talks.

There will also be several ‘After Hours’ events at Kew Gardens during the festival, hosting a series of intimate evenings among the hundreds and thousands of orchids and tropical flowers on display.

Nick Johnson, Public Glasshouse Manager, RBG Kew, is excited to be creating the 2018 Thai inspired festival which he says is going to be rare and beautiful: “It will immerse visitors in the sights, senses and sounds of Thailand’s tranquil and unique culture, creating an explosion of colourful beauty that celebrates the wonder of orchids. We hope this journey will highlight the significance of plants for all walks of life, from the traditional and spiritual to the cultural and religious, all the while showing the importance of plant diversity and Kew’s work to protect, conserve and study plant,” he says.

Botanists have been describing and naming orchids for more than 250 years and Kew is a world leader in this field. Last year alone, 600 new species were discovered including three from Thailand. Many orchids have important medicinal properties as well as being revered globally for their delicate beauty. Thailand is home to 1,100 species of orchid.

For information on tickets, opening times and After Hours events visit:

Photo credits: All photographs ©Board of Trustees, RBG Kew: Banner photograph above: Encyclia-fragrans; middle: Eli Blondi, Kew Horticulturist, admires the Vandas for the orchid festival.