Kew Gardens has been forced to defend its world-famous Christmas event following backlash from critics blasting it as a “waste of money and energy”.

Christmas at Kew’s festive trail runs for around two months and features more than one million lights, huge illuminations and a fire garden. 

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the popular event at the South West London park, which attracts thousands of visitors every year.

But critics hit out at the huge display after Kew Gardens announced its return on Twitter. They raised fears it will disturb the environment and asked for its carbon footprint.

Herta Kolberg tweeted: “What a waste of money and energy that could have been spent on better things. What’s your carbon footprint on this? You should really know better.”

In response, the botanic garden revealed it uses biofuel, a renewable energy source, to power the display.

Kew Gardens replied: “Consideration for the trail’s sustainability is really important to us and we carefully consider this as part of the planning process.

" Our trail designers were appointed on the strength of their experience working in environmentally sensitive ways in heritage [and] landscape settings.

“All Christmas at Kew generators run on HVO biofuel – a form of renewable diesel that has been produced from vegetable fats [and] oils. This results in up to 90 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions.

“Finally, continuous lighting of trails and paths will be avoided, and we will only use audience area lighting where it is absolutely necessary for reasons of public safety. ”

But Kew Gardens was also urged to show more consideration for nature.

Nigel Witham wrote: “How is this wasteful, light-polluting, kitsch fantasia a good thing? Why don’t you turn out your fairy lights and encourage us to look at the unviolated stars and contemplate our true place instead?”

Steve Geliot added: “Kew should be inspiring us to act wisely and show consideration for nature.”

The botanic park said it needs to attract visitors in winter to fund crucial work.

Kew Gardens tweeted: “We are a world-leading scientific organisation and are critically dependent upon admissions revenue to maintain the Gardens and to continue our vital scientific work.

"Christmas at Kew was designed to attract visitors in the darker winter months.”

A Kew Gardens spokesperson said the park has always worked towards having the most sustainable trail possible and started trialling biofuel generators in 2020.

The spokesperson said all Christmas at Kew generators will run on biofuel this year and these decisions were made “prior to any comments appearing on social media”. 

The spokesperson said: “Where possible, all lighting is LED and we are working hard to transition towards 100% LED lighting for the artworks over the next couple of years.

"We are currently at 75% LED. The trail’s design also avoids the continuous lighting of paths, which is only used when deemed necessary for reasons of safety.

"The avoidance of continuous path lighting is for ecology reasons and something we have done for years based on our ecology consultancy report.”

They added: “We are critically dependent upon admissions revenue to both maintain the gardens and to continue our vital scientific work in the conservation of rare species and in the preservation of threatened ecosystems throughout the world.

“Christmas at Kew was designed to attract visitors in the darker winter months by highlighting the beauty of the gardens in a unique and creative way.

"Each time we attract a new visitor we introduce new audiences to the beauty of Kew’s landscape and are able to continue our crucial work."

The festive event will run from November 16 to January 8 next year.