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COVID-19 pandemic forces Chelsea Flower Show to move to autumn

Written by on 27/01/2021

The Chelsea Flower Show has become the latest event to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

The flower show is usually held in May, with the best of spring horticulture on display.

Instead, for the first time in its 108-year history, the event will be in September and showcase the beauty of autumn.

The Royal Horticultural Society had drawn up plans to have the show remain in May with additional safety measures, an extra day, and a daily cap on numbers.

But it said it had a responsibility to visitors and staff to delay the event until a time when levels of coronavirus infection would be substantially reduced and millions more people could be vaccinated against the disease.

When the show goes ahead on 21-26 September it will be with 140,000 people across six days instead of the 168,500 over five days seen in 2019.

Ticket holders will be contacted and exhibitors will be given the chance to be in the new show.

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Last year the flower show went online after the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown forced its cancellation for the first time since wartime.

A model poses with body art and headwear made of Peonies at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London, Britain, May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Image: The Chelsea Flower Show has been moved from May to September this year

Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said: “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.”

And she said: “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.”

It is hoped shows at Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park will still go ahead as normal, but the RHS said it would continue to follow government advice.

 Sky News

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