Nights Out: Midnight Ramblers at Kew Gardens,
Sunday 29 April 2007
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew isn't just a place of beauty, it's a world-leader in conservation. The 300- acre plot by the Thames bursts with plant life. When the sun is shining, Kew is a favourite venue for a family day out. But you can see it by moonlight, too. During summer a "Midnight Ramblers" sleepover programme allows children - and horticulturally minded accompanying adults - to explore at night. Between 6pm and midnight, dedicated Kew Rangers guide groups on a torch-lit tour, playing games and exploring some of the collections, before everybody unrolls their sleeping bags.
After being divided into teams of 20, the evening starts with botanically themed group games. Then it's off to a hothouse conservatory to find, photograph and correctly identify the most weird and wonderful species: look out for flesh-eating Dracula plants, or sniff your way to the titan arum, the biggest, and smelliest, flower in the world. Once it gets dark, grab your free torch and glow-in-the-dark necklace, and set off through spooky woods in search of badgers and bats. Later, your team will learn how to plant seeds in the tropical nursery, before settling down for toasted marshmallows and bedtime stories round a campfire.
The amount of detail you'll see at night - particularly during the walk through the 19th-century arboretum - is necessarily limited. What you do get, however, is a view of the gardens very few, other than staff, ever enjoy.
Listening for pipistrelle bats on the architect John Pawson's low-slung, sinuous Sackler Bridge is an auditory marvel. Don't expect much kip - once the last of the inevitable giggling dies away, it's only a matter of hours until the Heathrow flight-path kicks in.
Snacks of a roll, juice, cheese and cake are handed out at 8.30pm. Breakfast is a pastry and fruit. Hot drinks all night.
The sleepovers are fully accessible to children in wheelchairs and with special needs. Several places are subsidised for community groups and social services.
Selected Saturday nights from 5 May to 10 November. Tickets £40 per person (adults and children); minimum booking four children, ages eight to 11, and one adult.
How to get there
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (0208-332 5655; rbgkew.org. uk), Surrey TW9 3AB. Victoria Gate, on Kew Road, is three minutes' walk from Under- ground and Silverlink station.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
Top 10 cheapest cities to visit, according to TripAdvisor
The 50 Best spas
South Africa's new travel rules: From October, families with under-18s will need to show their birth certificates
Weary? In need of some sun? Relax and unwind with a trip to... Iraqi Kurdistan
Harder, better, faster, longer: The best rollercoasters in the world
- 1 Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: It is only rape if the victim is conscious
- 5 Nigerian witch-finder Helen Ukpabio threatens legal action against human rights organisations
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...
£15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...
£30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...