In May, tens of thousands of people will head to London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea for the famed RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
The event is arguably the highlight of the horticultural calendar so, if you’re planning a visit, you’ll want to make the most of your day out. Here’s our guide to ensuring that your day at Chelsea goes without a hitch.
The RHS advise visitors to travel to the show via public transport. It’s good advice if you want to spend more time taking in the beautiful sights at the show and less time getting stuck in traffic. We recommend jumping on the tube and taking the District or Circle line to Sloane Square station. The showground is just a ten minute stroll away. It’s a pleasant walk, past some of the Royal Borough’s most exclusive and luxurious shops many of which will have transformed their windows for the annual Chelsea in Bloom festival – a great appetiser for the RHS show.
If you’re coming from further afield, London Victoria is the closest train station to the show and there is also a shuttle bus from the station to the showground. If you really can’t leave the car at home, there is public parking at Battersea Park, but be warned it is first come first served and there are likely to be queues.
For further information on London underground travel, visit the Transport for London website.
Timing is everything
Doors to the flower show open promptly at 8am so if you want to beat the crowds and make the most of the day get there early. We recommend picking up a catalogue at the entrance to help you navigate your way around the showground and locate exhibits on your must-see list. If you’re not sure what to see first, one top tip is to keep an eye on the weather forecast for the day. Make the most of sunny spells by visiting the impressive show gardens on the main avenue, then enjoy the floral delights of the Great Pavilion.
Dress to impress
There’s no dress code at Chelsea so feel free to wear whatever you are most comfortable in, but if you are having a special day out, it can be nice to get a bit dressed up. Smarter gents tend to wear blazers and light trousers, while many women opt for pretty summery dresses with a head-turning hat. As a British institution, Chelsea is also vulnerable to the Great British weather and downpours are common so make sure you have an umbrella or waterproof jacket with you. Comfortable shoes are a must too!
Take less, not more
A day out at Chelsea Flower Show means a long day on your feet. Lighten the load by taking only the essentials with you; a camera, your purse or wallet, a bottle of water and a notepad for taking down details of flowers and plants.
Don’t forget your purse
There’s plenty to splash your cash on at Chelsea from flowers to glasses of Champagne, so if you want to treat yourself make sure you take some cash. Many of the stalls don’t take card payments and while there are a number of on-site cash machines these will charge for use and queues are likely to be big.
Pick up a picnic or treat yourself to lunch
There are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat at Chelsea, but if you are watching your pennies you may want to take a picnic. Providing the sun is shining, there are lots of grassy banks and areas you can settle down on to enjoy a well-earned break and re-fuel for the afternoon without having to battle the queues at the on-site eateries. You can even throw in a bottle of bubbly to help create a party atmosphere! Our favourite picnic spot is on the Plateu in Ranelagh Gardens, where you can listen to live music from the bandstand. Heavenly!
Alternatively, there are a wide range of catering facilities is available at the show, offering everything from three-course meals to sandwiches and ‘posh’ fish and chips. The Rock Bank Restaurant is popular with regular visitors and offers a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can prebook a table or take your chances on the day.
For more details about the show visit the RHS website.