London Etiquette Guide For The Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show


The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the most well-known horticultural show in the world, attracting more than 150,000 visitors to the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea every year.

This year’s event will be no different, as gardening aficionados head to West London to enjoy floral displays, show gardens, flower-arranging demos and new gardening tools and gadgets.

If you’re going this year, here’s an etiquette guide to all things Chelsea.

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You won’t find a dress code for the show on the Royal Horticultural Society website because, strictly speaking, there isn’t one. But it’s a good idea to observe a few things:

  • The weather could be hit-and-miss, so dress accordingly.
  • Day dresses for women, a jacket-and-tie for men.
  • Wear flats or strong shoes as you’ll spend a lot of time walking.
  • Floral prints would be most welcome.
  • Make sure to carry something waterproof though, in honour of the Great British Weather.
  • Unlike other society events, hats, especially ones that block views of the gardens, are a big no-no – the gardens, after all, are the real stars of the show.
  • Selfie stick? We couldn’t possibly comment.



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If it’s your first time, it’s a good idea to go to Chelsea armed with some knowledge of the show. So here’s a potted history:

  • The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the main events of what’s called the Season – the British social calendar that also features events like Royal Ascot and the Henley Regatta.
  • The show was first called The Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show, and was first held in 1862 at a now non-existent garden in Kensington. From 1888, it was held in gardens on the banks of the Thames, before in 1913 it moved to its current site at Chelsea Hospital. The only interruptions in its reign here have been the gaps in the two World Wars.
  • The Royal Family have a strong association with the Chelsea Flower Show and regularly attend. Last year, the Queen was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Prince Harry.
  • The show awards gardens four grades of award: gold, silver-gilt, silver and bronze.
  • The heart of Chelsea is the Great Pavilion, where plants are exhibited.
  • Today, it is the most important horticular event in the world, attracting thousands of visitors and generating major media attention.



Despite its regal outlook, food and drink is a big part of a Chelsea Flower Show experience. Last year, 6,000 sandwiches were served, 43,447 cakes and pastries were consumed and 23,823 glasses of Champagne were drunk!

There are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat and enjoy a drink in the sunshine, including restaurants, Champagne lounges, food courts, picnic areas and vendors.

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Astound your companions with some fun facts they probably didn’t know about the event…

  • Want to take a gnome to the show? You can’t – show rules prohibit the use of coloured sculptures.
  • The show’s Great Marquee was named in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest tent at 3-and-a-half acres.
  • In the 1920s, a campaign to ban foreign exhibits at the show was waged. The RHS refused, saying: ‘horticulture knows nothing of nationality’.



The 2017 Chelsea Flower Show is held Tuesday May 23rd – Friday May 26th from 8am to 8pm, and on Saturday May 28th from 8am to 5.30pm.

The nearest tube station is Sloane Square, buses 11, 137, 211, 360 and 452 all stop near the show and the nearest mainline train station is London Victoria.

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Tuesday and Wednesday are RHS members days, so you’ll need to be signed up to the Royal Horticultural Society to attend the event. Ticket costs range from £28 to £70, depending on the time you go.

Both members and non-members can attend on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with prices for the public starting from £35. The cost will depend on the time you go. Full ticket prices can be found here.

Who Would You Most Like to Have Dinner With?

Who do you want to have dinner with?

Role models have the most influence for good manners, particularly manners at the table. It’s tough to be a good role model with dining etiquette if your kids are regularly eating in the back of the mini-van on the way to soccer and dance lessons and hockey practice, but keep this in mind…your kids preferring eating with…watch the linked video to learn who.

Airplane Etiquette: Who gets the middle armrests

Airplane Etiquette:  Who gets the middle armrests

According to the Global Strategy Group, 56 percent of Americans would rather get stuck in traffic or go on a blind date than sit in the middle seat on a full flight.  Worry no more, the middle seat passenger should get both armrests, according to Contemporary Etiquette Institute and Emily Post. Print this out to slip into the pocket of the seat in front of your seat partners (before they arrive).

Better yet, greet your seat mates with a smile and a hello when you buckle up, and set your sights on an easy flight.

Wine Tasting and Tasting Room Etiquette

Here are a few helpful tips while visiting wineries or wine tasting rooms…Cheers!
• Do not wear perfume or cologne. You don’t want to be “that” person who confuses the smell of others with scents interfering with the wines.
• Some visitors are new to wines, so if you have tasted a wine you do not like, keep it quiet and move to the next.
• Don’t be a wine snob … there’s always someone who knows more and there’s no one who knows everything — even if we think we do. We are constantly learning something new from each other.
• Your host/hostess is there to answer questions and talk about their wines. Be kind and courteous.
• Don’t pretend you are in the industry, unless you are. It never works out. It is also insulting to those who actually are. Besides, they’re very smart with their questions to weed it out if credentials cannot be produced.
• Eat before you go. We all know that a server, no matter the state, cannot serve one who has overindulged. Many places offer small crackers, pretzels or maybe small bites of cheese. These are meant as a palate cleanser, or a wine pairing and not as a meal.
• Sipping and spitting are part of the experience, no need to feel as if you need to drink each pour. Not liking every wine is natural, so don’t feel guilty about dumping the wine. Like the wine? The best compliment is to buy a bottle or two!
• It is acceptable to buy one tasting and share the glass.
The wines are presented in a particular order for tasting. If you are unable to choose your own flight, then just cover your glass with your fingers to signal “pass” instead of saying aloud “no.” If you try it and don’t like it, remember someone else might.
• Do not attempt to pour your own glass.
• Do not pick the grapes. If you are able to go on a tour of the vineyard, please leave the grapes alone. The grapes are for pictures only. Imagine if everyone who walked through took a few to taste; there wouldn’t be much left to make wine.
• Last call for alcohol. If you walk in within 10-15 minutes of closing, don’t expect a full tasting menu to be served. And don’t ask for the most expensive bottle to be poured.
Wineries are dictated by their permits for hours of operations much like liquor stores, so closing means closing.
• Under-aged visitors are not encouraged and some do not allow them, so check the website or make a phone call beforehand. If they are allowed, by law, most states require that they are at your side at all times.
It is courteous to remember that most people visiting are on a vacation or weekend getaway and are escaping for adult time.
• Should you tip? Tipping is not required, but much appreciated if your host/hostess did an excellent job and went above and beyond.