Living in South-West London, I am lucky enough to be able to class the world-famous Kew Gardens as a local attraction. I really don't visit the botanical garden enough throughout the year, considering how close by it is, but one thing me and my family won't be missing is the spectacular Christmas at Kew event. We went along last year, and were truly dazzled by the magical scenes and light-shows that awaited us as darkness fell.
The one-mile trail winds its way around the extensive gardens and is packed with so many unforgettable moments. For me, seeing the magnificent Palm House sparkling in an ever-changing show of lights was a definite highlight, although the scented fire garden - with hundreds of flames flickering in the darkness - was a very close second. There is also a sparkling tunnel of lights and a fairy-tale avenue of fauna.
Our then-two-year-old daughter was enchanted by all the magical lights, music and colours, and she loved the vintage fairground that was about half way round. We spent ages there sipping on mulled wine, while she rode the helter-skelter and carousel. The rides cost extra, at £2 a go.
I've noticed that tickets for 2016's Christmas at Kew are already on sale on their website. If you live nearby or are planning a trip to London over the Christmas season, then I urge you to get some tickets now before they sell out. The trail is very popular and entry is by timed ticket, so you need to book well in advance to secure the date and entry time of your choice. Adult tickets cost either £16.00 or £18.00 depending on whether you're going at a peak time, and children's (age 4-16) tickets are £10.00. Under 4s go free. There are also family tickets available at £52.
The trail opens at 5pm and closes at 10pm and you can choose from eight entry times. Visits are timed at 30-minute intervals from 5pm until 8pm, so the trail never gets too over-crowded. The event runs from Wednesday 23 November until Monday 2 January (excluding 28, 29 November, 5, 6, 12, 13, 24 and 25 December 2016).
The easiest way to get to Kew from central London is by tube - Kew Gardens station is served by the District Line and London Overground. From there, the main entrance at Victoria Gate is just a short walk away. There is limited parking available but this has to be booked in advance online with the entrance tickets.