If you would like to enjoy the beauty and creativity of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, then I highly recommend planning your trip in advance. This gives you the best prices on accommodation, train fares, transport and removes the stress of worrying about anything apart from the weather. The Royal Horticulture society have a list of other shows but this show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea is definitely one of the most popular.
Book your lunch or afternoon tea as soon as possible as they are booked up very quickly. Dates for this year’s show 2018 are 22nd – 26th May. For low cost accommodation try Travel lodge, Premier Inn or student halls of residence, available through universities in London. www.universityroom.com.
The exhibition gardens are outdoors but there are plenty of very large marquees and the Grand Pavilion is indoors. London is usually very mild and pleasant in May and a light water-proof should be enough. Check out the weather on met office.gov.uk
There is no specific layout at the Chelsea Flower Show, you basically wander around at your leisure, there are plenty of info points and maps to guide you. Note where the toilets are because they can have long queues. If you see some that are quiet, just go.
The Chelsea Flower Show is very busy but I found that waiting about 30 mins past our entry time prevented our party, (my mum is 70yr old) from standing in long queues. We were scheduled for the 3.30 entry. This does not mean that you have to leave at 5.30, which is the next entry time, we were still there at 6.30. the show organisers realise than many of the all day ticket holders will leave around 4’ish onwards.
To clarify you can buy an all day ticket, a half day, which is cheaper either 3.30 or the later entry 5.30pm. You can join the RHS and benefit from the following:
Members of the Royal Horticulture Society, can enjoy a priority show ticket booking period every year before tickets go on general sale to the public. Free entry to 4 RHS gardens and a monthly Garden magazine. They also benefit from attending the Members only day which is quieter and many of the show gardens are fresh and at their best visually.This year 2018, the Chelsea Flower show are extending the Friday night to a late night, with music, artisan food, stalls and garden views by twilight. Tickets are limited.
The show area is completely wheel chair friendly and all the exhibits are at eye level. This of course assumes the place is not water logged by rain. Be warned, check the weather first.
We arrived by tube at Sloane Square which is an easy 10 min walk to the show. The other options are Bus, Clipper boat or drive. Parking is available at Battersea Park and there is capacity for 2,000 cars, which can be pre booked but this means a 20 min walk to the show or take the park & ride service, for mobility issues there is a mobility bus. If driving to Battersea Park use the postcode SW11 4BY which will take you straight to the Rosary Gate entrance.
We had the most amazing day and my mother was completed indulged by a wonderful Japanese garden designer who took her on a private tour of his show garden. The garden designers actively encourage you to ask questions. After all they have spent a long time preparing the garden, applying and setting it up. They are usually very knowledgeable about their plants and can offer advice about any problems you may have growing these species etc.
We did not pre book a restaurant as we had lunch at Covent gardens first and only needed light refreshments, such as champagne and strawberries!
There is so much to see that we all split up, (a party of 5) and agreed a rendezvous point. Some people wanted to see all the merchandise stalls while others wanted to go back to certain gardens. This works for larger groups. Be warned I am not a particularly keen gardener but the shops are fabulous and I defy you to come away empty handed.
The Grand Pavilion is fabulous and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this area. Take your phone or note pad when you see the most glorious flowers as you can order seeds at a later date from the nurseries. (you won’t remember all their names)
We stayed for about 3 hours and this was long enough for us as we were enjoying a few days of sight seeing. I cannot recommend the Chelsea Flower show highly enough and if you are spending a few days in London, pre book a theatre show and restaurants.
I can highly recommend the Tower of London, stay for the guided tour, its fascinating. Covent gardens, walk along the South Bank at night and enjoy all the street shows, vendors and attractions. .
Frequently asked Questions about the Chelsea Flower Show.
Dress code: there is a lot of ground to cover, I would be comfortable and definitely wear your favourite walking shoes, unless you plan on spending the day in the Champagne tent or if you have reserved a table at the Drawing Room, based on the Dorchester, floral afternoon tea or champagne breakfast, maybe not so scruffy here… some people do dress up but unless you are the Queen, I would opt for smart/casual.
Arrive by boat : Mercury Clipper at Cadagon Pier, RB6 service. thamesclipper.com. You can pay by using your Oyster card and you can prebook online and tickets are emailed to you. Fabulous way to arrive in style. Mon-Friday service.
By Train: Transport for London operates a shuttle service from Victoria Station to RHS Chelsea Flower Show. £4 adult single/£6 return. concessions available.Chelsea Flower Show Victoria Shuttle bus number 811
seetickets.com are the official vendors for the Chelsea Flower show.
For ticketing queries please contact See Tickets on: 0844 995 9664
Prices at the start of the week for members are more expensive, £74 all day dropping to £51 as the week goes on. Non Members are only able to attend from Thursday. Price comparison on Thursday, members £51, all day £38 OR £29 dependant on entry time. Non members are £65, £43 and £37, depending on time of entry.
Parking at Battersea – Sat nav direction
Parking at Battersea Park and using a sat nav, use the postcode SW11 4BY which will take you straight to the Rosary Gate entrance.
Children: No babies, buggies or children under 5 are allowed entry.
Tuesday – Friday (22 – 25 May) – 8am – 8pm
Saturday (26 May) – 8am – 5.30pm
Royal Hospital Road
Royal Hospital Chelsea
London, SW3 4SR
Thanks for reading. Details were correct at time of print, I hope you have a fabulous tour of the Chelsea Flower show, I can’t wait to go back.