Explore London

Three Fun Alternatives to the Chelsea Flower Show

The prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show returns on the 21st May: one of the most popular flower-themed events in the world, and a key destination for gardeners and landscapers alike. However, If you’ve got a hankering for horticulture and aren’t sure you’ll make it along to Chelsea, never fear - there are some amazing alternatives popping up across the capital in the next few months.

Chelsea Flower Show

What is the Chelsea Flower Show?

Each year, over 150,000 visitors descend on the Royal Hospital Chelsea to ogle at the cutting-edge floral collections and spectacular gardens on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Whatever the theme, the show attracts some amazing names: top-notch botanical specialists, garden designers, florists and nurseries.

In 2019, RHS Chelsea will be ‘reconnecting with nature and beauty of the natural world’. Leading the way is a garden co-designed by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and Davies White Landscape Architects. Dubbed the ‘Back to Nature Garden’, this woodland setting has been inspired by fond memories from childhood and the natural world.

Though the show in Chelsea is a key event in the British horticultural calendar, there are plenty of other ways to get your flower fix in 2019!

Chelsea in Bloom

Chelsea in Bloom

An alternative flower-themed event that runs in tandem with the neighbouring RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea in Bloom takes over the streets of the borough for five days between 20th – 25th May.

Produced by Cadogan Estates in association with the Royal Horticultural Society, this fun event sees Chelsea’s premiere restaurants, retailers and hotels festooning themselves in lavish displays to try to win a range of coveted awards. This year’s theme is ‘Under the Sea’, and Chelsea in Bloom are partnering with Plastic Oceans UK to raise awareness and celebrate the majesty of our oceans.

Mayfair Flower Show

Mayfair Flower Show

Famous London restaurant Sketch is playing host to the fourth annual Mayfair Flower Show between 15th and 27th May 2019.

This is a flower show with a difference, mixing stunning horticulture with fine cuisine (Sketch has two Michelin stars, don’t you know). The venue will be transformed, thanks to displays from acclaimed florists Thierry Boutemy, Tony Marklew, Figa & Co and more, which will take centre stage throughout the venue (from the façade all the way up to the infamous bathroom pods). The special garden in the reception area, which has been designed to reflect the William Morris arts and craft movement, is a particular highlight.

The theme for 2019 will be ‘springtime in the city’, and a number of botanical-themed menus will run alongside the show to tempt flower fans to stay and feast. Guests can tuck into a range of exquisite dishes that are as stunning to look at as the flowers that surround them: the set menu in the Library restaurant, for example, features Pierre Gagnaire’s famous Flower Show Dessert, which incorporates a mouth-watering combination of elderflower ‘eau de vie’ parfait, delicious strawberries, and delicate meringue.

Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival

Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival

Whilst the Chelsea Flower Show might be the most famous floristry affair in the RHS calendar, the world’s largest event is actually held at Hampton Court Palace in July. Sculpted gardens, breath-taking displays, live music and gourmet food combine in this historic setting between Tuesday 2nd and Saturday 7th July 2019.

This year, the festival seeks to celebrate summer, honouring horticultural legends and welcoming newcomers to the scene. Whilst prominent names like Simon Lycett and Jonathan Moseley will be in attendance, there are also guest appearances from trendy wellness authors Jasmine Hemsley and Madeleine Shaw. The legendary gardener Beth Chatto, who passed away in May 2018, has been named as the show’s 2019 Iconic Horticultural Hero.

A number of creative workshops, such as calligraphy or arts and crafts sessions, will be popping up during the five-day event. Attendees can also get their hands dirty – literally – with activities run by Community Allotments, which will offer a combination of flower and vegetable planting.

Whether you’re a keen gardener looking for tips on how to create an outdoor paradise at home, or simply want to enjoy a fun day out with your family, Hampton Court Palace has plenty of garden-related gems to enjoy. A must for all flower fanatics!