What to See, Eat and Drink at Chelsea in Bloom 2018
It’s not all doom and gloom if, like me, you failed to plan and buy a ticket for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
We’ve admired the impressive show gardens on TV but did you know there’s another flower festival going on in Chelsea?
It’s called ‘Chelsea in Bloom’ and it will lift your spirits, tempt your taste buds and get you flower arranging in a jiffy.
What is Chelsea in Bloom?
Chelsea in Bloom is an annual festival of floral art. It’s sponsored by local shops, restaurants and hotels who all compete for much-coveted medals. The welcome news is that, unlike the big ticket price of the Chelsea Flower Show, this one is entirely free.
The theme this year is ‘Summer of Love’, inspired by the romance of the Royal Wedding and the original ‘summer of love’ in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Flower-loving, food-loving Instagramers will be smiling and snapping all over SW1.
Where Can I See it in Chelsea?
The beautiful and colourful floral installations all spill out onto the streets and pavements surrounding the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with Sloane Square acting as the main hub.
How Can I Experience Chelsea in Bloom?
There are three ways. Free guided walking tours start from Sloane Square and run every 30 minutes. A more sedate option is to whizz around Chelsea in a colourful rickshaw. Both tours are popular. Guarantee your place by putting your name down at the Information Point.
A Self-Guided Tour For Food Lovers
Most people pick up a map and follow the Summer of Love trail. With over sixty installations to see at Chelsea in Bloom, I’ve highlighted the best ones if, like me, you think with your taste buds and like to stop for a drink and a bite to eat along the way.
1. Start With a Chelsea Kiss Chase Cocktail
The Botanist has a pop-up bar at Sloane Square. Try one of the specials – a ‘Chelsea Kiss Chase Cocktail’ or a ‘Love is in The Square’. As a base, both drinks use either single estate vodka or gin from the Chase Distillery in Herefordshire.
2. Taste Tobacco Chocolate at Artisan Du Chocolat
Snap the Summer of Love red camper van outside the Artisan Du Chocolat shop on Lower Sloane Street. While you’re there, ask to taste their amazing tobacco dark chocolate bar or treat yourself to a chocolate ice cream.
3. Pop in to the Cheese Bar on Pavilion Road
London Cheesemongers have an interesting selection of artisan cheeses to try. Order small plates or a pick up a picnic hamper and take it to nearby Battersea Park.
4. Buy Some Posh Sausages from Provenance Village Butcher
Pavilion Road has become a hotspot for independent food shops. It’s home to Bread Ahead where you can take a course in bread making and eat delicious pastries and cakes but also, a rather smart family butcher’s shop. Admire the bicycle outside Provence Village Butcher and then treat yourself to some posh sausages. For something really special, try the grass-fed Wagyu beef from New Zealand.
6. Drink Lemonade Outside Comptoir Libanais
If the sun is shining, stop for a freshly squeezed lemonade and falafels outside Comptoir Libanais on Duke of York Square. You’ll need your sunglasses to gaze at the brightly coloured Chelsea in Bloom installations outside jeweller, Monica Vinader.
7. Have a Taste of Italy at Polpo
Sit outside and get a taste of Russell Norman’s ambrosial Venetian small plates at Polpo. Go home brimming with inspiration and a copy of his new book Venice: Four Seasons of Home Cooking.
8. Feel the Love For Hans Sloane (and Harry and Meghan)
Stop to admire the statue of Hans Sloane, the man responsible for bringing the recipe for milk chocolate to Britain. Next to him there is an enormous heart-shaped letterbox where you can post messages of congratulations to Harry and Meghan.
Discover: More about Hans Sloane’s legacy by visiting The Chelsea Physic Garden where you can eat in The Tangerine Dream Cafe.
9. Drink English Sparkling Wine at Rabbit
My personal gold medal goes to the restaurant, Rabbit. The floral displays at both the front and side of this bijou restaurant are inspired by the humble British pea. They are stunning. The restaurant is the venture of the Gladwin brothers who were brought up on the family vineyard (Nutbourne) and farm in West Sussex. This is the place to enjoy a glass of Sussex with your meal.
10. Have Fish & Chips at The Bluebird Cafe
Iconic Kings Road restaurant, The Bluebird, has spruced up its lampposts. Chill out in the flower-filled courtyard cafe and tuck into a British classic – fish & chips perhaps followed by strawberries and cream.
For details of Chelsea in Bloom which finishes on Saturday, visit the website: www.chelseainbloom.co.uk.
London’s Open Gardens Squares Weekend – Discover London’s Hidden Gardens this June.
Hampton Court Flower Show in July – Have a flower-filled and fun foodie day out in the grounds of this Historic Royal Palace.
The Foodie Travel Guide
Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures.