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Flowers, Fashion, and Flair: Immerse Yourself in Chelsea's Flower Show and Social Scene

A hot ticket for garden enthusiasts and London socialites, our guide to doing Chelsea Flower Show in full bloom.

Naomi Chadderton
Naomi Chadderton
An experienced editor and journalist specialising in news and lifestyle.

Loved by royalty and everyone who's anyone on the London social scene, each year the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea are transformed into the world’s greatest flower show. Taking place in May, this is one hospital visit you won't mind attending!

The Chelsea Flower Show has long been the place to see and be seen on London’s busy summer social calendar, with many famous faces and Royals enjoying the gardens throughout the week. If you are planing the garden of your dreams and fancy joining them this is the best place to get dressed up, meet friends and having a fabulous day out. You don't have to be green-fingered to enjoy the delights of the Chelsea Flower Show.

1. Women Are Blossoming

Last year for the first time ever there were more women than men entering the competition, with the new balcony and container garden category for exclusively female designers. Pollyanna Wilkinson’s installation celebrated women in gardening history. This year the show will see the return of the Balcony and Container Gardens designed with urban living in mind, as well as the All About Plants category, championing specialist plants.

2. Rewilding and Biodiversity

Rewilding and biodiversity are still very much buzzwords, expect to see plenty of gardens that have an eye on the ongoing climate crisis. Last year Darren Hawkes, for example, rescued chunks of an old concrete floor from a farmyard in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of his garden, with the large, jagged fragments polished and hanging through the Samaritans Listening Garden. Dame Judi Dench also praised a garden created by Cambridge-based charity Fauna and Flora International thanks to its ability to “inspire people.”

We are expecting this years event to be the mosts sustainable yet, “This year we are working closely with all our garden designers to bring the most sustainable gardens we can to the show. They are using eco- techniques, low carbon materials and processes that are not only reducing their impact on the environment, but also reducing our waste at the end of the show." Gemma Lake, Chelsea Show Manager

“We are proving that great design and sustainability go hand in hand” Gemma Lake, Chelsea Show Manager

3. Best in Show

There is no official dress code for Chelsea, and whilst the event is traditionally described as smart casual, people come dressed to impress. The show gardens are outside, so it's worth having one eye on the forecast before finalising your outfit. With 34 gardens to peruse comfy shoes are also a must!

What Else Can I See During The Chelsea Flower Show?

The royal borough really goes to town throughout the Chelsea Flower Show, with several squares, streets, restaurants and facades transformed into beautiful flower displays, as part of Chelsea in Bloom. This years theme is food, so expect giant floral macarons and oversized bags of popcorn with participants drawing inspiration from characters and storylines from the big screen.

Where To Eat And Drink At The Chelsea Flower Show

If you're feeling peckish, you can tuck into a fancy brunch at the onsite Champagne & Seafood Restaurant, or enjoy a floral-inspired Champagne Afternoon Tea at The Drawing Room.

Chelsea is also bursting at the scenes with great food and drink options. Book a table at the King’s Road branch of Sticks & Sushi which, as a previous Chelsea in Bloom winner, is featuring a display focused around samurais, a regular symbol in Japanese film.

We also highly recommend The Sloane Club and Sloane Place for floral-inspired cocktails, zero-waste restaurant Rabbit, for a special floral-themed menu that nods to Ridley Scott’s A Good Year, and Stanley’s for fresh British dishes from celebrated young chef Olivia Burt.

How Do I Get Tickets To The Chelsea Flower Show And How Much Do They Cost?

Tickets are available on the RHS website here. They sell out quickly, especially the half-day ones, so make sure you book early!

If you’d rather watch from the comfort of your own couch, the BBC remains the exclusive TV broadcaster for the show.

Getting to the Chelsea Flower Show

The nearest tube station is Sloane Square, which is serviced by both the District and Circle Lines and is a 10-minute walk from the showground.

For those taking the train, head to Victoria Station and take the show’s dedicated shuttle bus from there.

The Chelsea Flower Show is held at London Gate, Royal Hospital Road, Royal Hospital Chelsea, London, SW3 4SR.