Applications are now open for the 2023 Chelsea Fringe – the alternative garden festival that takes place at around the same time as the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This year it is running from 20-28 May.


Individuals, organisations, first-timers and Fringe veterans with an idea for a Chelsea Fringe event – however unformed – are encouraged to get in touch with the Fringe team now. Tim Richardson, Fringe founder and director, is also hoping more garden designers and landscape designers will take part this year, given the new emphasis on community engagement in garden and landscape design.

The Savills Garden, designed by Mark Gregory at Chelsea Flower Show 2023

"Garden designers were a strong volunteer element of the Fringe in its early days, but because we are not a funding platform, not too many of them actually created events in the festival, because the focus was always on physical installations," he explains. "But times have changed. You don’t need much funding (or any, in some cases) to create a meaningful and interesting participatory event around gardening. We are hoping to see more of this kind of thing in the Fringe, some of it from a new generation of designers."

The festival is a "true fringe" in that it doesn't commission or curate. "We accept everything that our participants suggest – if an event is on-topic, legal and interesting, it’s in," Tim explains. "That means everything from community-garden events, art projects and performances to walks and talks, craft demos, and workshops – just a few of the categories we end up with. We are always surprised – and delighted – by what pops up each year, fresh from the imagination of our horticultural comrades in the UK and around the world.”

Contributors and venues over the years have included community gardening groups, public parks, artists, poets, chefs, galleries, schools, and major institutions such as RBG Kew, the Inner Temple, the Natural History Museum, and Covent Garden Flower Market, among many others.

Despite its name, the festival reaches well beyond Chelsea – all over the UK and around the world. Events have taken place on the Isle of Mull, in Monmouth, Margate, Leeds, Bristol and Henley-on-Thames, as well as Canada, the US, Sweden, Poland, Italy, Australia, and Japan. Many events in the festival are free to attend.

Events usually begin to appear on the Fringe website from February, while registration remains open right up until the very last day of the festival. Potential event organisers are encouraged to make contact as soon as possible, however, so that the event can be promoted early on.

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Gardens Illustrated will bring you highlights of the Chelsea Fringe later in the year.


Contact the team at with a proposal and find out more about the Chelsea Fringe at


Veronica Peerless is a trained horticulturalist and garden designer.