Home Horticultural shows RHS London shows to move

RHS London shows to move

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RHS Great London Plant Fair 2014
Cacti on display at the RHS Great London Plant Fair 2014. Picture; Bethany Clarke

Poor visitor numbers mean events relocate to RHS gardens

High costs and poor visitor numbers have led the RHS to move three of its five London shows, held in the Royal Horticultural Halls, to its gardens nearest the capital.

All five of London shows attract only 12,000 visitors in total, on average 2,400 visitors each, costing £400,000.

In contrast, individual flower shows at RHS gardens attract more than 45,000 people at Wisley, 26,000 at Hyde Hall, nearly 14,000 at Harlow Carr and more than 9,000 at Rosemoor.

The move follows a review of the London shows, last looked at in 2016. The aim is to attract larger audiences and deliver greater results for nurseries and exhibitors.

Visitors at the RHS London Spring Plant Extravaganza, 2016. Picture; RHS/Luke MacGregor
Visitors at the RHS London Spring Plant Extravaganza, 2016. Picture; RHS/Luke MacGregor

Only one major show in London

For 2019, the RHS will put on one major show in the London Lindley and Lawrence Halls. The RHS London Spring Launch Show from April 8-10 2019, will launch the season and promote a wider range of plants.

The event will incorporate the Orchid Show, the display and selling of spring bulbs and plants, and will focus on houseplants and container gardening. There will also be talks by expert plantsmen, growers and designers.

Other shows planned in 2019 are:

  • The Early Spring Show will move to RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Essex.
  • The venue of The Botanical Art Show is not yet confirmed.
  • The Autumn Show will move to Hyde Hall.
  • Elements of The Urban Show, which will not be directly replaced, will be incorporated into other shows. The RHS is looking at other ways to promote gardening in central London.
RHS London Orchid and Botanical Art Show 2014
Oncidium orchids on the McBean’s Orchids stand. RHS London Orchid and Botanical Art Show 2014. Picture; Sarah Cuttle

High cost and poor visitor numbers

Sue Biggs, RHS director general said: “We have tried to increase the success of these shows in London, but we cannot avoid the reality that the five shows in the last year were only visited by 12,000 visitors, at a cost of £400,000 to the RHS’s charitable funds.

“We have held Shows in London at the Lawrence and Lindley Halls in Vincent Square since 1904, and enjoyed over a century of success bringing horticulture to the heart of London.

“However, times have changed – today exhibitors have to contend with the high costs of emissions, congestion and parking charges as well as ever-increasing hotel prices.

“On top of this, the London Shows only attract a fraction of the visitors that similar events in our RHS gardens do.

RHS London Harvest Festival Show 2016
Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, with his winning 566kg giant pumpkin, he named “Big Ben”, in the giant pumpkin competition at the RHS London Harvest Festival Show 2016. Picture; Luke MacGregor

Sorry for disappointment

“In its first year, Rosemoor Flower Show had nearly four times as many visitors as the average London Show.

“We are sorry that some members will be disappointed at this decision, but we hope they understand that these shows are no longer sustainable for either the RHS or our dedicated exhibitors.”

For 2020, once the new events building is open at Wisley, one or more of the shows may move from Hyde Hall to Wisley.

The relocated shows at Hyde Hall and Wisley will be free for RHS Members.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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