Every year 157,000 gardening enthusiasts visit the Chelsea Flower Show in West London. The event is crammed with exhibits, from rare flower blooms to multimillion pound garden installations. The Royal Horticultural Society organises the show, which covers 11 acres in the grounds of the Royal Hospital near the banks of the River Thames. Shops, food stalls and bars sit alongside the landscaping and plant displays. The show lasts for five days during late May. Tickets are for RHS members only on the Tuesday and Wednesday, with public tickets available for the remaining three days.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Chelsea Flower Show tickets
- Sturdy shoes
- Waterproof jacket
- Official Chelsea Flower Show programme
Plan your journey and your visit. Buy tickets well in advance as they're liable to sell out. Consider taking public transport as parking is limited and traffic can be heavy. Sloane Square is the nearest underground station.
Arrive early. The event features dozens of Show Gardens and thousands of specimen flowers and vegetables. Give yourself enough time to enjoy the sights without rushing around.
Prepare a list of "must-sees" before you go. Official Show Gardens are listed on the Royal Horticultural Society website. The BBC website singles out several exhibits to watch each year. (See references below.)
Wear sturdy shoes and bring lightweight waterproof clothing. You'll do plenty of walking around and many of the exhibits are on uneven ground in open air.
Buy a programme from official vendors at the entrance. Check the map to find out the location of important exhibits. Leaf through the booklet for special event and session timings.
Book a table at the Rock Bank Restaurant for a treat inside the show grounds. Place reservations at least two days in advance by calling +44-844-209-1810. Alternatively, bring spare money to eat at one of the cafes, or sip a drink at one of the marquee bars.
Look out for famous faces. British and international film stars, television personalities and members of the Royal Family all turn up at the show each year.
Take a notebook and pen. Jot down any garden ideas and inspiration you get from exhibitions and gardeners. Write down the names of any unusual plants and techniques for future reference.
Stick around for the Saturday Sell Off. Exhibitors put their blooms and flowers up for sale, often at very reduced prices, late on Saturday afternoon. Grab a bargain show piece for your garden.
See everything you want to see before leaving the enclosure. There's no re-entry after you leave.
Tips and warnings
- The closest train station is London Victoria.
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