Saturday 8 February – Sunday 8 March 2020
- Kew’s first ever orchid festival themed on the country of Indonesia
• Dazzling displays inspired by Indonesia’s wildlife and plant diversity
• The festival will showcase Kew’s vital science work in Indonesia to protect biodiversity
• Indonesian music, dance and food during half term and after-hours events
Kew is magnificent any time of year but when the cold winds of winter blow one can find a warm and colourful exotic glow in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
In February 2020, Kew’s 25th annual orchid festival will celebrate the incredible wildlife and vibrant culture of Indonesia – an archipelago of more than 17,504 islands, including Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, Papua and Bali. Indonesia’s landscape is as diverse as the flora and fauna that inhabit it, from tropical rainforests to spectacular volcanos.
Stepping into the Princess of Wales Conservatory, visitors will find themselves transported to an entrancing paradise evoking some of the sights, smells and sounds of Indonesia. To capture a glimpse of the wonders of this vast region, the orchid festival at Kew will be an immersive journey through the different zones of the glasshouse, where visitors will find spectacularly beautiful orchid displays which each represent an aspect of Indonesian wildlife and culture.
Dramatic central pond display
As they explore the festival, visitors will encounter life-sized animals decorated with hundreds of tropical flowers, in celebration of Indonesia’s rich diversity of fauna. Bright orange orangutans, a crouching tiger and a rhinoceros are just some of the creatures that will star in the show. An erupting volcano, created from orchids will form a dramatic central pond display; Indonesia has over 100 active volcanos. Elsewhere, an archway made up of hundreds of carnivorous pitcher plants will delight and intrigue visitors in equal measure.
During festival there will also be an exciting programme of specially curated evening events. Orchids: After Hours will feature live gamelan music and traditional dancers, as well as talks on the creation of the festival, and an interactive look at how Kew are fighting the extinction crisis. What’s more, renowned author and chef Petty Elliott will be giving live cooking demos introducing guests to the food and culture of her Indonesian heritage.
Indonesia boasts a hugely diverse range of societies and cultures with over 300 languages spoken across its many islands. This is matched by its staggering biodiversity, including at least 4,000 species of orchid, as well as many other plants that can be found only on certain islands in the archipelago. For instance, the island of Sumatra is the only place you’ll find the infamous Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanium, otherwise known as the ‘corpse flower’ thanks to the appalling smell of rotting flesh it produces when in bloom.
Collaborators in Indonesia
Kew is a global leader in plant and fungal science and this year’s festival will also showcase some of its ground-breaking work with collaborators in Indonesia to help identify, protect and promote the country’s biodiversity. Stretching from Sumatra in the west to the island of New Guinea in the east, Kew has been working across Indonesia for many years. Working with their counterparts on the ground, Kew’s scientists are undertaking intrepid field trips to discover new plants, aid conservation efforts, and promote sustainable development. Much of Indonesia’s vast and varied landscape remains unexplored; just last year a Kew scientist, André Schuiteman, discovered and described a new orchid that was completely unknown to science. It was named Bulbophyllum adolinae after Adolina, the wife of the governor of West Papua.
Indonesia’s rich culture
Kew has worked closely with the Indonesian Embassy in London to bring to life some of Indonesia’s rich culture at the festival. The Ambassador of Indonesia to the UK, H. E. Rizal Sukma, says:
“Through the orchid festival, I hope that visitors can have a wonderful journey experiencing the magnificent Indonesia. As well as its flora, Indonesia is rich in biodiversity, wildlife, nature and culture which will be beautifully displayed in this festival.”
Entry to the festival is included in the standard ticket to the gardens but visitors must book a timed ticket slot online in advance: https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/whats-on/kew-orchid-festival
Orchids After Hours will run on 13, 14, 26, 27 February and 5, 6 March 2020, 6.30pm – 10pm. Tickets must be bought online in advance from www.kew.org.