The London social season: Where to see and be seen this summer


You can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather. For the organisers of the capital’s major summer events, however, it is more than a pretty picnic that’s in the works this season. Whatever the weather, 2023 promises the return of London’s social season with a bang. Whether you favour fashion and flowers or concerts and classic cars, here’s what you need to know about what’s happening in the capital this summer.

Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea

chelsea flower show

Expect show-stopping displays and horticultural masterpieces at the Royal Hospital Chelsea this May. As ever, the main attraction will be the cutting-edge show gardens, displaying the very best in outdoor design and innovation, while the onsite house plant studio returns this year with a plant clinic, perfectly poised to help you revive any flagging fauna. Elsewhere, the Discovery Zone will demonstrate the latest developments in horticulture science, the Great Pavilion promises to be a riot of colour and fragrance and there will be plenty of opportunities for shopping and fine dining along the way.

From 23-27 May 2023; London Gate, Royal Hospital Chelsea, SW3 4SR. Visit

Glyndebourne Festival, Sussex

glyndebourne festival

Located in the heart of Sussex (and thus close enough to the capital to be a firm fixture in the social set’s calendar), Glyndebourne’s annual operatic festival series returns with its most ambitious line-up yet. Highlights include first-ever productions of Poulenc’s powerful opera Dialogues des Carmélites and Handel’s dramatic oratorio Semele, along with its first new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in over a decade. Three revivals include Peter Hall’s magical staging of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; John Cox’s 1975 production of Stravinksy’s The Rake’s Progress, featuring iconic stage designs by David Hockney, and Annabel Arden’s colourful and sunny 2007 production of Donizetti’s great romantic comedy L’elisir d’amore. Of course, the famous Glyndebourne picnic will also be on offer, complete with luxurious treats from local suppliers.

From 19 May-27 August 2023; New Road, Lewes, BN8 5UU. Visit

Chestertons Polo in the Park, Fulham

chestertons polo in the park

Chestertons Polo in the Park promises three days of high-octane international polo at the spiritual home of the sport. Six teams from cities across the world, including Dubai, New York and Buenos Aires, will compete throughout the tournament, with this year featuring the first international women’s match to be played in central London. Libations abound courtesy of Mahiki, Champagne Lanson, Pimm’s and Fever Tree, while the inaugural Fulham Food Festival is tipped to be a big attraction, featuring pop-up stalls from the capital’s culinary hotspots including Freewheelin’ Pizza, Chick N Sours and more. Wedges at the ready then, those divots won’t stomp themselves.

From 9-11 June 2023; Hurlingham Park, SW6 3RH. Visit

Royal Ascot, Ascot

royal ascot procession

The UK’s most stylish horse racing event will be back in earnest this year, opening up its gates for five days of world-class flat racing, fine dining and pageantry. And when we say stylish, we mean it: Royal Ascot has some of the most exacting standards of dress of the whole season. A top hat and tails are mandatory for men in the Royal Enclosure while women should be covered from knee to shoulder and finish their look with some exceptional millinery. Rules for the Queen Anne Enclosure are slightly more relaxed but suits and ties are still expected, along with fascinators and formal dresses for women. In short, wave goodbye to your loungewear.

From 20-24 June 2023; High Street, Ascot, SL5 7JX. Visit

Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition, Piccadilly

royal academy of arts

Image: RCA/David Perry

Perhaps the capital’s most hotly anticipated annual art fair, the RA’s Summer Exhibition offers collectors and connoisseurs alike the opportunity to see and buy works by both established and rising talents across a range of disciplinary practices in the world’s oldest open submission exhibition. Featuring works on display by Royal Academicians, Honorary Academicians and well-known artists – previous years have included work by Tracey Emin, David Hockney and Wolfgang Tillmans – with up to £50,000 worth of prizes up for grabs, the exhibition presents an eclectic collection of contemporary work that reflects the many facets of the art world as we know it today.

From 13 June-20 August 2023; Burlington House, W1J 0BD. Visit



Britain’s favourite tennis event will be back at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this summer, promising to be bigger and better than ever. Traditional ticketing has also made a return this year, as the public ballot tickets reopened for lucky winners – though you are still welcome to queue up or try your luck with resale. The event will, as ever, be televised, so if you aren’t lucky enough to get tickets you can still catch the likes of Kyrgios, Nadal and Djokovic on the BBC. Time to crack out the strawberries and cream.

From 3-16 July 2023; The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Church Road, SW19 5AE. Visit

London Concours, The City

london concours

The capital’s most exclusive classic car show returns to the serene gardens of the Honourable Artillery Company Headquarters in the City of London this June. Held in collaboration with Swiss watchmaker Breguet, the event will be staged across three themed days: VIP Preview Day, Style Edition Day and Supercar Day. Day one will be invite-only and will see the official judging and Best in Show presentations for the classic cars, while day two will open the event to the public and take the form of an upscale garden party held among some truly astonishing vintage automobiles. The final day will be a celebration of all things supercharged, with Ferraris, Lamborghinis and the like joining the line-up for a special set of supercar awards.

From 6-8 June 2023; The Honourable Artillery Company, City Road, EC1Y 2BQ. Visit

Henley Royal Regatta, Henley-on-Thames

henley regatta london social

Following last year’s extended event, London’s premier rowing event will return to the banks of the Thames for the first week of July and, as ever, the options for visitors will be many and varied. While VIPs head straight for the members’ only Stewards’ Enclosure and serious rowing fans take a seat in the Regatta Enclosure, those more interested in donning their finery for a fabulous day by the river are to be found taking advantage of the many official and private hospitality offerings. Looking for a seriously exclusive day out? Rent a boat and get up close to the action as you drift lazily downstream, champagne in hand.

From 27 June-2 July 2023; Regatta Headquarters, RG9 2LY. Visit

Read more: The Social Set: Celebrity snaps from around town

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