Colombia’s landscape is as diverse as the flora and fauna that inhabit it, from tropical beaches to snow-capped mountains and everything in between. Home to more orchid species than anywhere else in the world, Colombia’s unparalleled biodiversity and vibrant culture is the inspiration for Kew’s 24th annual Orchids Festival in February 2019.

Stepping into the Princess of Wales Conservatory, visitors will find themselves transported to an entrancing paradise evoking the sights, smells and sounds of Colombia. The experience is an immersive journey through the different zones of the glasshouse where visitors will encounter staggeringly beautiful orchid displays which each represents aspects of Colombian wildlife and culture 

Colombia is famed for its wildlife diversity and boasts the greatest number of bird species of any country in the world. To celebrate this, the central display of the festival will be a ‘carnival of animals’ depicting a toucan in flight, a hanging sloth and swimming turtle, all composed of stunning orchids, bromeliads and other tropical plants.

Colombia’s famous rainbow river, Caño Cristales, will be represented through a breath-taking cascade of hundreds of colourful hanging vandas, and visitors will also delight in an enchanting forest scene complete with life-sized jaguars. Elsewhere a dazzling display of hundreds of colourful butterflies will be suspended from the glasshouse ceiling and the legend of El Dorado will be depicted through an intricate golden floating display bursting with bright yellow orchids in the glasshouse pond.

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 Colombia to help identify, protect and promote the country’s biodiversity. Since the signing of the peace accord between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group, huge areas of the country previously unknown to science are now waiting to be explored. Working with their Colombian counterparts, Kew’s scientists are undertaking intrepid field trips to discover new plants, aid conservation efforts, and promote sustainable development.

Throughout the Orchids Festival, there will also be an exciting programme of weekend and evening events and activities featuring Colombian music, dance and cuisine, as well as a series of engaging talks from Kew’s orchid experts.

Entry to the Orchids Festival is included in the standard ticket to the gardens.