For the first time in its 108 year history, The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is postponing RHS Chelsea Flower Show to take place in the autumn 2021 instead of spring, due to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.
The RHS Chelsea 2021 Show, which would have taken place between 18 May and 23 May, has been moved to run from 21 September to 26 September. The RHS, the Show organisers, will still hold the world famous event at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea.
The RHS had done its utmost to ensure the Show could happen safely in May with numerous additional health and safety measures, such as reducing visitor numbers and spreading the Show over an extra day.
The show organisers concluded that with the coronavirus infection rate currently so high across the UK and no guarantee on what tier London may be in over spring, and with a responsibility to their exhibitors and everyone involved in the Show, from visitors, partners, volunteers and staff, to delay the 2021 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Their hope is that millions more people will have been vaccinated later in the year and that the levels of infection will have reduced substantially.
The RHS will be in touch with everyone who has purchased a ticket for the event to date and are asking that ticket holders refrain from contacting them.
Whilst the September Show will be very different to the usual spring event, the RHS believes it will celebrate the best of autumn horticulture, with many seasonal highlights including Salvias, Asters, Dahlias, grasses and fruit and vegetables. As well as looking back at its historic Great Autumn Show for inspiration, the RHS is excited about the ideas exhibitors will have to create spectacular autumnal gardens and displays. Exhibitors who were to take part in the cancelled May event will all be given the opportunity to be at the autumn show. The show will also be opening up applications for new gardens, nurseries and content.
In addition to the autumn event, the RHS Chelsea 2021 will once again hold its hugely successful RHS Virtual Chelsea Flower Show online, during the May show week, which millions of people across the UK and around the world tuned in to enjoy last year.
Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, says: “In these challenging times we have always followed Government advice and made difficult, responsible decisions with the health and safety of people our key concern.
“Whilst we are sad to have had to delay RHS Chelsea and are sorry for the disruption this will cause, we are excited that we are still planning to bring the world’s best loved gardening event to the nation at a time when more people are gardening more than ever.
“We know that the autumn dates may not be suitable for everyone, but with our fantastic industry partners we will do everything we can to support them and create a show that will be a moment in history. It will be exciting to see different horticulture and showcase the key autumn gardening season at the world’s most famous flower show. We believe many designers and nurseries will look forward to working with different plants that would not be available or at their best in May.
“Never have so many people gardened in recent times, nor needed the benefits of gardening more, so we will do our utmost to deliver a beautiful, uplifting and different RHS Chelsea safely in September 2021.”
As was planned for the event in May, RHS Chelsea Flower Show in September will be spread over six days instead of five, with the same reduced number of visitors, another first in its history. There are many further coronavirus safety precautions being put in place for exhibitors, everyone involved in the show, visitors and RHS staff and volunteers.
It is hoped that, as planned for later in the year, the following RHS Shows will continue as normal, subject to ongoing Government advice.
RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, 6-11 July 2021
RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, 21–25 July 2021
Picture credit: Photograph : RHS © Luke MacGregor