The Ultimate Hampton Court Flower Show Guide
Every summer, lovers of all things floral flock to Hampton Court Palace for the world's biggest flower show. Here's our go-to guide to enjoying the blossoms.
If you’re a gardener and love plants and the outdoors, the RHS Hampton Court Palace garden festival is your Disneyland. The largest annual flower festival in the world, it’s an event packed with plants of all shapes and sizes, gardens so beautiful you could shed a tear (but don’t, in case you accidentally overwater the flowerbeds in the process) and plenty of thought-provoking information on gardening. What's more, it all takes place in the grounds of one of London’s most historic palaces. Read on for Plum Guide's expert Hampton Court Flower Show guide.
Getting there and tickets
Although you can throw caution to the wind and just turn up at the door hoping there are still tickets, it’s advisable to secure your entry in advance - not least because you have to buy a car park ticket as well as tickets for all over-16s attending. Your lucky kids will get in for free – we’re sure they'll be thrilled. If not, there are plenty of other family-friendly places to go in London.
It’s best to check the RHS website for up to date travel information in case of any last minute changes. Rest assured, though, that it’s simple to get there via public transport - you can even get a ferry to the festival.
However you travel, check the weather before you leave the house. While there are some indoor spaces to shelter in if it’s a wet day, most of the festival is held on open ground so it can get muddy. This might be the time to break out those wellies you’re so fond of that your significant other secretly hates.
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Taking in the show
A celebration of gardening, flowers and all kinds of plant life, there’s absolutely tons of things to see at the RHS, so you’ll need to keep your Hampton Court Flower Show guide handy. The festival aims to show everyone just how easy it is to grow and create a garden that you love, so it’s the perfect place to find inspiration for how you’d like your ideal outside space to be.
A good way to start off your day is by exploring the show gardens. It’s always a hotbed of the most exciting things happening in gardening. The show gardens showcase different events, issues and themes each year. Past examples include highlighting the potential of small spaces, encouraging wildlife and tackling green issues.
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Each year there are numerous marquees, all of which are worth exploring. Past examples include plant heritage, a fragrant festival of roses and learning how to grow your own food.
If you’re after something a little more participatory, there’s a full program of demonstrations, workshops, talks and more. Crafting, floristry and seed sowing are all given their proper due. Whatever your garden is struggling with, from slugs to small children who persistently cut the heads off flowers, there’ll be someone who you can ask for advice.
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Let’s go shopping
We hope you brought your credit card, because it’s basically the law that you should shop here. Our official Hampton Court Flower Show guide would not be complete without mentioning the more than 90 specialist nurseries in attendance. There are beautiful blooms, seductive succulents and enchanting evergreens everywhere you look. You’ll be able to find the ideal plants to take home and enjoy.
If your teenager has been nagging you to make the garden more Instagram-friendly (try to hold your eye rolls until the end, please) there are also plenty of lifestyle products, outdoor furniture and other attractive accoutrements to purchase. You never know, maybe this is the life occasion where you finally decide that a hammock is an essential item you can’t live without.
Time to relax
Once you’ve shopped until you dropped, it’s time for some well-earned relaxation time. Find a spot on the lawn, send your friends to queue up for Pimms and ice cream and watch Wimbledon play out on the handily erected big screen nearby. When the match has ended and it’s time to go home, this nearby apartment has an exceptionally comfortable bed under some beautiful exposed beams, where you’re sure to get a great night’s sleep after your big day out.
If you're all flowered out and would rather indulge in some arts and culture, check out our guide to London's Southbank. You'll find the National Theatre, Tate Modern and plenty of professionally-vetted Plum Guide homes in this exciting patch of London.