Beautiful show flowers

The oldest and largest indoor flower show in the world: The Philadelphia Flower Show

While the RHS Chelsea Flower Show rules the roost in the UK, get ready for the show that's even bigger and been running for even longer…

The Philadelphia Flower Show has been held annually since 1829 (with a few exceptions), meaning it has been around for almost 200 years. This makes it the oldest indoor flower show in the world, and it also holds the title of largest.

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This year, the event was held from 5 June to 13 June, in FDR Park in Philadelphia (normally it’s held between February and March). While this year’s show is already over, there’s always next year, which might be even more special with Covid restrictions hopefully being a thing of the past.

Brits who would like to experience the Philadelphia Flower Show for themselves need to get a few things sorted out before departure. It is recommended purchasing tickets in advance, and all British travellers are required to submit an ESTA application in order to be allowed on any plane headed to the USA.

Tulips at the Philadelphia Flower Show 2020.
Tulips at the Philadelphia Flower Show 2020.
Getty

Outdoors for the first time

Normally, this extremely popular event is always held indoors. Last year’s Flower Show was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. However, this year, for the first time ever, the Flower Show was held outside due to Covid-19, as the virus has a much smaller chance of spreading outdoors.

The flower show is organised annually by the Pennsylvania Hortical Society (PHS). The theme of this year’s show was “HABITAT: Nature’s Masterpiece”, a gardener-centric theme that incorporates the landscape of FDR park.

The enormous park was separated into three distinct districts – Plant District, Garden District, Design District -, each with unique plants and gardens to admire. If you think you know gardening, the Philadelphia Flower Show will make you second-guess your expertise. The spectacular floral displays are hard to find elsewhere, as gardeners, florists, landscapers and all other kinds of experts go all out for this annual event.

The Flower Show isn’t just a feast for the eyes. It’s also a prime opportunity to do some shopping. Dozens of vendors can be found on location, selling everything from garden furniture to unique plants and seeds. If you’ve ever struggled to find that one perfect piece that would complete your garden, odds are you might find it at the Flower Show.

In previous years, the Philadelphia Flower Show has been named the best event in the world by the International Festivals & Events Association in an overall rating on a variety of levels, competing with events such as the Kentucky Derby Festival, the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Indianapolis 500 Festival and other international festivals. A visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show therefore promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience.

The entrance fee to the show is $45 for adults, or £32.55. Children ages 5 to 17 pay $20 (£14.50), while children under 5 years of age can enter free of charge. While the prices might sound a bit steep, you can be assured they are well worth it.

Travelling to the USA: ESTA application

The 2022 Philadelphia Flower Shower will likely be held indoors again at the Pennsylvania Convention Center as normal, barring any unique developments like with COVID. The event is hugely popular: over 250,000 people visit it every year. While this year, booking tickets in advance was mandatory, this is not usually the case. However, you’re still better off doing so, to avoid any problems once you get there.

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Another thing to arrange before departure is submitting your ESTA application. This has to be done in advance, as you won’t be allowed on the plane otherwise. The ESTA is like a visa allowing you entry into the USA for up to 90 days per visit. But unlike visas, submitting an ESTA application is done online. After filling out the form, you make the payment and wait for it to be approved. Afterwards, the ESTA confirmation is sent to you by e-mail. This does not need to be printed. At the airport, all you need to do is show your passport so the airline can confirm an ESTA was granted to you.