This year Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival took place between Tuesday 2 July to Sunday 9 July 2019.
Last year, my daughter and I discovered just how much there was for children to enjoy at Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival (https://minitravellers.co.uk/is-hampton-court-palace-flower-show-child-friendly). This year I was invited back to see what was on offer in at the 2019 show.
Whilst the idea of going to Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival without children and soaking up the atmosphere over a Pimms or two does sound very appealing, for parents of young children that’s not always possible. Unlike RHS Chelsea Flower Show, children are most welcome at Hampton Court Garden Festival, and can even go for free (up to two children go for free with every paying adult). If you live nearby, the reduced price entry for adults after 3pm could be an option for an after-school summer outing with children (open until 7:30pm).
Nestled in amongst the amazing Show Gardens at the 2019 Festival were some wonderfully creative activities for children to get stuck into, including glitter face painting, flower crown making, bug hotels and animal homes, pond dipping and forest school.
If younger children needed a bit of motivation to wander around the expansive Festival, they could follow the Family Trail based on Eric Carle’s, very famous, and Very Hungry Caterpillar, who is celebrating his 50th anniversary this year. Large sculptures of the caterpillar’ favourite foods were located across the Festival, and children could punch their Family Trail cards and follow the trail to a giant sculpture of the caterpillar himself.
Each year the Garden Festival invites school to get involved in creating gardens, and this years theme was bug hotels and animal homes. Many schools had entered the competition and there was a wonderful display of imaginative homes and five star hotels, with intricate designs from Gruffalos to toadstools. Schools were invited to see their bug houses in situ, and during the Press Preview Michaela Strachan was busy admiring all their amazing work. Visiting children would love to see this creativity on display.
Next to the animal homes and bug hotels, Kingston Forest School (www.kingstonforestschool.org) were inviting young visitors to try out wide range of activities including natural painting, making bird boxes, willow weaving, den building and leaf rubbing. To the other side the enigmatic zoologist, author and presenter, Jules Howard, engaged adults and children alike in interactive pond dipping and discovering the importance of pond life. Jules knows so much about life in garden pond he has launched an entire podcast collection on the topic #pondplaylist.
Many of the Show Gardens themselves would be interesting to older children, and as with RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year there was a great emphasis on celebrating and protecting nature, particularly with the new Global Impact Gardens category. HRH Duchess of Cambridge’s Back to Nature Garden that featured at Chelsea, was reborn for Hampton Court Garden Festival. The Thames Water Flourishing Future Garden demonstrated how gardeners can encourage biodiversity, reduce water use and prevent flooding. Thames Water were having a lively discussion with children about their water use and how they can reduce it. The Believe in Tomorrow Garden presented a vision for the ideal Primary School garden and many of the plants themselves had been grown by children from five inner city schools. After the festival many of the elements of this garden will return to the schools to inspire future generations to care for the world around them.
Next years’ RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival will take place on 6–12 July 2020.