Attraction review: Kew Gardens Mexico Festival 1-31 October 2022 

There’s nothing ever ordinary at Kew Gardens, a place I regularly visit to seek peace and inspiration. Something extraordinary is happening this October at London’s botanical garden. Yesterday I escaped to the vibrancy of Mexico for a visual spectacular preview of new installations within Kew Gardens iconic Temperate House. The new colourful and horticultural artwork by renowned Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero, designer Fernando Laposse and UK award winning garden designer Jon Wheatley made me think about the beauty and colour of Mexico – a country that I have always loved and written about in my university dissertation as well as visited once. Mexican culture has a deep connection with death – originating from its Mayan and Aztecs populations – as well as with plants and more generally with the natural world. Running for the month of October, Kew Gardens Mexico Festival includes new artistic and horticultural installations across the Temperate House by renowned Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero, designer Fernando Laposse and UK award winning garden designer Jon Wheatley. The works each reflect the beauty and colour of Mexican culture and its deep connection with plants and the natural world. 
Collage of colourful flower installation at Kew Gardens Mexico Festival event
 

The installations

Innovative Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero will create two must-see installations for the Temperate House, the world’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse. These brand-new creations will highlight the close connection between Mexican culture and the natural world, as well as drawing on the vibrant creative traditions at the heart of Mexican art. 

Collage of orange and red flowers and installation at Kew Gardens Mexico Festival event

Romero’s central installation (Flower of Light and Song) will draw on the rituals and traditions of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on a huge scale, transforming the Temperate House with a giant chandelier in the shape of the Quincunce, which represents a harmonious relationship between nature and humanity in pre-Hispanic cosmology. Hand woven by communities in Mexico City, this piece will immerse visitors to the Temperate House in one of the central symbols of the Day of the Dead, the Mexican marigold, also known ascempasúchil

Romero’s second creation, The Altar, inspired by Hanal Pixan (the Mayan Day of the Dead celebration) is formed as a ceremonial altar; a space for thoughtful reflection and commemoration, evoking a ritual which is still a central part of Yucatán culture today.

dia de los muertos orange flowers decorations at kew gardens mexico festival

Elsewhere in the Temperate House, visitors can encounter the curious creations of Mexican designer 
Fernando Laposse. Fantastic Jungle Sloths will see larger than life golden sloths climbing through the Temperate House canopy.Crafted by transforming plant fibres including sisal into sustainable pieces of art, Laposse’s work focuses on topics such as the environmental crisis and biodiversity loss, and he regularly collaborates with indigenous communities across Mexico to raise awareness about the challenges which they face in an increasingly globalised world.

Garden designer Jon Wheatley will work with Kew’s collection of Mexican plants to create a horticultural installation titled Surreal Pillars of Mexico. Inspired by Las Pozas, located in a subtropical rainforest in the Sierra Gorda mountains of Mexico, this display will showcase an array of Mexican plants, including some from Kew’s own collection. 

 

Half term

October half-term will welcome a Mexico Family Fiesta featuring curated workshops and activities for all the family. Provided by innovative carnival and performance group Mandinga Arts, workshops will introduce participants to the stories of Day of the Dead through movement and games. Visitors will also be able to enjoy Carnival Parades featuring performers in traditional Mexican costume and stop off at the dress up and selfie station outside the Temperate House during their visit. 

 

After Hours

Explore the stunning surroundings of the Temperate House at night with exuberant evenings of live performances, cocktails and astonishing art as part of Mexico After Hours. Taking place on 7th, 8th, 14th and 15th October, these evening events will feature performances from Mandinga Arts and Crick Crack Club, as well as live cooking demonstrations from Santo Remedio chefs.

 

Mexico facts

Kew’s focus on Mexico for the 2022 autumn festival highlights the country’s position as a biodiversity hotspot, estimated to be home to an astonishing 26,000 species of flowers. 

Mexico is classified as one of the world’s top five most mega-diverse countries, representing 12% of global biodiversity in just 1.5% of global land area. 

Kew has many collaborative scientific projects in Mexico, which include focusing on the conservation of tree species, seed banking and training the next generation of taxonomists. 

 

Tickets

Daytime entry to the Mexico festival is included when purchasing a ticket to Kew Gardens. Recipients of Universal Credit, Pension Credit and other legacy benefits can visit Kew Gardens and enjoy the Mexico festival for £1. After Hours tickets must be booked in advance. 

 

What to look forward to in the coming months 

I love Kew Gardens. For me personally it has a magical feel and it always inspires me to write poems and new stories after each visit! 

I am looking forward to Christmas at Kew, a unique annual attraction that so far no other venue trying to replicate has managed to charme me in the same way Kew Gardens does.

Christmas at Kew lights and illuminated trees and fountains

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