Kew will hold its 24th annual Orchids Festival on the new theme of Colombia, the world’s most biodiverse country for orchids with 4,270 species. From tropical beaches to snow-capped mountains, Colombia’s landscape is as diverse as the flora and fauna that inhabit it.
Stepping into the Princess of Wales Conservatory, visitors will find themselves transported to a paradise evoking the sights, smells and sounds of Colombia. The experience is an immersive journey through different zones of the glasshouse, where visitors will encounter beautiful orchid displays that each represents aspects of Colombian wildlife and culture.
Colombia also 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 cascade of hundreds of colourful hanging vandas, while an enchanting forest scene will be complete with life-sized jaguars. Elsewhere, a 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 field trips to discover new plants, aid conservation efforts and promote sustainable development.
‘Colombia has formed a unique inspiration for the next Orchids Festival at Kew. The Princess of Wales Conservatory will be transformed by awe-inspiring orchid displays that will showcase Colombia’s biodiversity and Kew’s work in the country to help to protect, conserve and study its plants.’ – Elisa Biondi, Supervisor of the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
Elsewhere Colombian multidisciplinary artist Vanessa Moncayo González has transformed the glasshouse film room with colourful Bogotá-style street-art murals, and a number of events and activities will be taking place featuring Colombian music, dance and cuisine. There will be an event called ‘Batalla de Flores’ inspired by the Barranquilla Carnival, featuring flower costume-making, drumming, dancing and parades, and After Hours evenings with a live Latin band, local dancers, craft activities and expert talks on Colombian coffee.
9 February to 10 March 2019