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Chelsea Flower Show in reality

I love watching the Chelsea Flower Show on television, have watched it for years!
Next year I am hoping to go there and see it in reality! Thing is, I've only been to England once and that was for a weekend many moons ago!
I'd love to hear any feedback, recommendations, suggestions for a flower show newbie.
Any day in particular you'd recommend?
Thanks so much


  • B3B3 Posts: 27,292
    Ive heard Hampton Court is better. I haven't been to either yet, but that's the one I'll go to sometime.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,297
    Are you a member of the RHS?  I'd guess not, since you're Irish!  The reason for asking is that if you are, you can get cheaper tickets and go on a "members only" day - Tuesday or Wednesday.  I'm in the North and have been to Chelsea twice.  It's certainly an experience!

    My suggestion would be to get there before it opens at 8am.  For me that meant staying in as cheap accommodation as I could find (it was a self-catering apartment in Hammersmith) for the night before and the night after the show, and getting up very early in the morning to get the tube to Sloane Square and queue outside the gates.  If you're early enough you can see the show gardens before the majority of the crowds arrive.  Get a show catalogue beforehand (you can order it with your tickets) so you can plan your route around, to take in the most interesting show gardens etc.  It doesn't close until 8pm... I actually had a short lunchtime snooze under a tree (having taken advice from people on the forum who'd been before, and brought a binbag to sit on, lots of water and some sandwiches - food & drink are expensive at the show), so I was refreshed for the afternoon.  I wasn't going to waste the (pricey) entrance fee by going home early...

    You can't buy plants at Chelsea.  I've been to the Hampton Court show once and enjoyed it - it's cheaper, there's more space to move about and you can buy plants there.  But there's something special about Chelsea, especially if you're not from London.   :)

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • HazybHazyb Posts: 336
    I’m just back home in Northern Ireland after a trip to England and was at Chelsea on Thursday. 

    I loved it.

    I stayed with my sister and would imagine if you want to stay in a hotel or whatever to book well in advance as the crowds are huge with people coming from all over. 

    My sister lives in Milton Keynes so we travelled by train and tube. (3 tubes) The tube is a scary beast for those from this corner of the world (or maybe just me lol) but it is wonderfully efficient.  Buy a day travel ticket , we went off peak for half the price and were there from 11am to 6pm. 

    We took a picnic and there is a seating area provided with some entertainment thrown in. There are also water bottle filling points but there are often queues for that.   It helps to have a good breakfast before setting off too. 

    We had have several cups of tea (we love a cuppa) at various outlets and the cost was ok for that. 

    Going on a Thursday turned out to be cheaper than some other days too. The queue to get in actually moves quite fast. 

  • HazybHazyb Posts: 336
    By the way,  I know Ulsterbus in Northern Ireland do a Chelsea tour trip, perhaps a bus company in your area does too?  
  • Hampshire_HogHampshire_Hog Posts: 1,089
    I would do Hampton Court every time Chelsea is over crowded and claustrophobic have done both over the years but gave up on Chelsea when Hampton Court started in 1990 and never looked back.

    "You don't stop gardening because you get old, you get old because you stop gardening." - The Hampshire Hog
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,004
    The RHS has members all over the world and attendees ditto.  I've had some great conversations with fellow plant lovers for down under, USA, Europe.   I have been on members' days and public days and find it is more genial and less pushy on members' days.  I get there early so I can see everything I need to and from several viewpoints before the half day tickets entry at 3:30 when it does get more crowded.

    You need comfortable clothes and shoes, layers, a thin waterproof and sunscreen (just in case), a bin bag to sit on, a picnic, water bottle, a fully charged camera with clear memory chip, a backpack to keep your hands free for photos and taking leaflets, patience as your turn comes to move to the front.....

    You can buy bulbs such as lilies at some stands in the marquee and seeds and sundries in the Avenue plus garden ornaments and goodies in the area between the bandstand/picnic area and the Artisan gardens.   There are cash machines if you run out.   Plants can only be bought after closing on the last day and it's a free-for-all or you can order online or from catalogs taken home for gentle perusal after you consult your photos again.  

    Enjoy the chat with fellow visitors, the potential to chat with the expert growers in the floral marquee, the general ambiance and the excellent gardens and design ideas.

    The other RHS shows are good too but all different in terms of style, access, themes.  
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks for all the replies, advice and suggestions!

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