London's most famous gardening and flower lovers' bonanza is back again. The Royal Horticultural Society's biggest (yet smallest) event of the year, Chelsea Flower Show, starts on Tuesday 20 May and will last five days, ending on Saturday 24 May. This celebration of gardening celebration promises to be as enchanting as ever: immerse yourself in a paradise of gardens, plants, flowers and colour. Highlights of the show this year include:
- Amazing show gardens in three categories: Show, Artisan and Fresh with lots of young talent involved this year
- First World War commemorations, including a floral display by Birmingham City Council, the Royal British Legion and charity Thrive in the Great Pavilion
- Garden hero, Alan Titchmarsh designs his first Chelsea garden for 30 years, celebrating RHS Britain in Bloom, to mark 50 years in horticulture
- A new Discovery section in the Great Pavilion showcasing scientific and educational exhibits
- A massive waterlily sculpture on the roundabout by the Bull Ring gate
- A free app to help you navigate the show, which will even tell you what plant is right next to you
One of the hottest tickets is RHS Chelsea at Twilight on Friday 23 May. Described as an evening of light opera, this one-off special event includes entry to the Show at 5.30pm, a glass of champagne and opera set against the magical backdrop of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. However, the just about doable £70 tickets have all sold out so you'll need a cool £400 for the "premium" tickets still on sale.
Public ticket availability is extremely limited (Thursday and Friday sessions only at time of writing), so hurry up if you don't want to miss it. If you don't make it this year, catch coverage on the BBC or try the Chelsea Fringe alternative garden festival which has a rich and varied programme of events across London from 17 May until 8 June. Most of the events are free as the festival is totally powered by volunteers, independent of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Or you could hang on till July and get tickets to the more accessible RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place from Tuesday 20 until Saturday 24 May at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, London SW3 4SL. Tickets £23-£68 can be purchased on the website and the price varies depending on the entrance time to the show. RHS Chelsea Flower Show is open Tuesday-Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday 8am-5.30pm.