As the Chelsea Flower Show re­turns this spring, Sarah Riches finds that Lon­don comes alive in the sun­shine with live mu­sic, out­door opera and canal­side restau­rants

Where London - - Contents -

Where to en­joy al­fresco food, drink and theatre across the cap­i­tal.

Re­gent’s Park Open Air Theatre launches its 2017 sea­son with the dance mu­si­cal On the Town (from 19 May), directed and chore­ographed by Drew McOnie. Later in the sum­mer you can also watch two plays in­spired by Charles Dick­ens: A Tale of Two Cities by Matthew Dun­ster, and Oliver Twist, adapted by Anya Reiss. The sea­son wraps up with Je­sus Christ Su­per­star, which was a hit last year.

You can also watch theatre un­der the stars at Shake­speare’s Globe –a care­ful re­con­struc­tion of the orig­i­nal Globe Theatre, which staged Wil­liam Shake­speare’s plays. This month catch Romeo and Juliet, which is directed by the English Na­tional Opera’s artis­tic direc­tor Daniel Kramer, and the come­dies Nell Gwynn (2-13 May) and Twelfth Night Tak­ing ev­ery­thing from the Ber­muda Tri­an­gle to a ru­ined abbey for in­spi­ra­tion, this year’s Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospi­tal Chelsea (23-27 May) is set to wow once more. Since 1862, the Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety’s an­nual gar­den de­sign show has cel­e­brated the ar­rival of spring with gar­dens burst­ing with blooms – and ev­ery year seems to top the last.

This sea­son there are nine show gar­dens, in­clud­ing show vet­eran Ishi­hara Kazuyuki’s oa­sis. In­spired by the Ky­oto Im­pe­rial Palace, it fea­tures a Ja­panese pond sur­rounded by pines and maples. Another high­light is a York­shire gar­den with cliffs, a beach and ‘sea’ lap­ping against abbey ru­ins. (from 18 May). If you want to em­brace the out­doors, choose stand­ing tick­ets, which of­fer the clos­est view of the stage and cost just £5.

Later in the year, there are also live per­for­mances in Bat­tersea Arts Cen­tre’s

There are also five fresh gar­dens, one of which is Mex­i­can-themed – ex­pect drought­tol­er­ant plants set against or­ange and hot-pink walls. Meanwhile, the Ber­muda Tri­an­gle has a palm tree, trop­i­cal plants and vol­canic land­scapes in­side a pyra­mid. It is de­signed by one of the show’s youngest ex­hibitors, award-win­ning 23-year-old Jack Dunck­ley.

As well as the gar­dens, the show boasts a packed pro­gramme of talks, botan­i­cal-themed crafts, restau­rants serv­ing ed­i­ble blooms, and ex­perts red-brick open-air court­yard; free shows in The Scoop, an al­fresco am­phithe­atre sit­u­ated on the South Bank near Tower Bridge; and out­door opera at Opera Hol­land Park. Opera shows in­clude Don Gio­vanni (from 3 Jun). who are on hand to pro­vide ad­vice for your own gar­den. With celebri­ties and roy­als flock­ing to the show, tick­ets to this pres­ti­gious event sell out fast. If you are not suc­cess­ful, don’t worry as Lon­don has plenty of other green places to ex­plore – in fact, al­most 40 per cent of the city is made up of parks and open spa­ces, mak­ing it one of the green­est cities in the world. And we are only get­ting greener, as there are plans to open a gar­den bridge across the river. Un­til then, it’s time to see the city in full bloom.


Main im­age: Re­gent’s Park Open Air Theatre Right: Bat­tersea Arts Cen­tre

This im­age: The Mor­gan Stan­ley Healthy Cities Gar­den Below: ac­tress Joanna Lum­ley at the Chelsea Flower Show

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