Tickets Now Available for the Inaugural Chelsea History Festival

10 September 2019

The highly anticipated, inaugural Chelsea History Festival launches today with tickets now available at

This hugely diverse festival programme takes place along Royal Hospital Road at some of London’s finest institutions: the National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Chelsea and Chelsea Physic Garden.

This all-new, five-day event will bring the past to life through a programme of world-class speakers, historians and performers, taking the stage from Wednesday 9 October to Sunday 13 October 2019.

The festival’s Creative Director, Harry Parker, comments:

‘I love the way Chelsea is a mix of paradoxes; it represents a history of royalty and anarchy, it feels conservative and yet bohemian, it is both local while also international. The festival will be strongly rooted in this heritage. It feels like the perfect stage for a history festival.’

Festival highlights

In commemoration of Operation Market Garden, the festival opens on Wednesday evening with Remembering Arnhem. An immersive re-enactment will be followed by celebrated veteran Victor Gregg in conversation with Second World War expert Rick Stroud, and eminent historian Antony Beevor discussing the famous ‘battle for the bridges’.

On Friday, Max Hastings takes a fresh look at The Dambusters Story. The following day, New York Times bestselling author Sonia Purnell introduces the unsung female hero and spy who helped secure victory in 1945 in A Woman of No Importance.

During the festival, a wide range of other engaging historical moments are also explored – from esteemed broadcaster and journalist Dan Jones talking about the Crusades, to David Nott sharing his heroic experiences as a surgeon on the front line. Presenter and historian Helen Castor reveals the insecurities behind Elizabeth I’s steely exterior and visitors can experience the reality of the elaborate clothes worn by women under her reign in an interactive demonstration of The Elizabethan Wardrobe.

The clues to our past hidden in present-day London are revealed by Paul Wood in London is a Forest. And Lara Maiklem shares the intriguing artefacts she’s discovered beside the Thames, as recently documented in her BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, Mudlarking.

To mark 80 years since the events which sparked the Second World War, three leading authorities debate the definitive history of the German invasion of Poland. Author Jack Fairweather, writer Roger Moorhouse and War Studies lecturer Dr Paul Latawski discuss the pivotal role Poland played in the Second World War – from the German invasion in 1939, through to the setting up of the Free Polish Government in Exile in London.

Spectrum of events

With highlights ranging from The Lark Ascending Concert, featuring world-class baritone Roderick Williams and violinist Siân Phillips in the Royal Hospital Chelsea’s beautiful Wren Chapel, to Gyles Brandreth bringing poetry to life in Dancing by the Light of the Moon, the richly diverse programme encompasses free and ticketed lectures, concerts, walks and immersive activities.

Making Generation R: Resilience Through Inspiration brings injured veterans Simon Hamer and Darren Swift together to share their stories of coping in the face of adversity, to help young people to deal with anxiety and low self-esteem. They will be discussing ways to encourage empathy, openness and honesty about the difficulties young people face, as well as practical coping strategies.

There are events to engage everyone, from the experts to the curious. Families can uncover the history of the home of the Chelsea Pensioners on the Hidden History Hunt, or explore the oasis of Chelsea Physic Garden at their exclusive free open day on Saturday. Children can immerse themselves in fun activities from giant board games to marching drills and seed planting workshops. This exciting new history festival offers plenty to inspire, enlighten and entertain.

Historic setting

Located on Royal Hospital Road, in London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the festival is set to become a mainstay in the capital’s culture calendar.

Events will take place across three iconic sites: the National Army Museum, which tells the stories of soldiers who have shaped world history; Chelsea Physic Garden, a botanical oasis founded in 1673; and the Royal Hospital Chelsea, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, founded in 1682 and still home to the Chelsea Pensioners.

For full festival information and ticket prices (ranging between £0-£30) and information on the exclusive Weekend Ticket Bundle (buy tickets to three events over Friday/Saturday and receive a 25% discount) please visit:

The Chelsea History Festival is kindly supported by media partner Country & Town House magazine.

Notes to editors

  • Festival dates: Wednesday 9 October – Sunday 13 October 2019
  • Ticket prices: £0 – £30
  • Weekend Ticket Bundle: Book three or more events across Friday 11 and/or Saturday 12 October and save 25%. Tickets must be purchased in the same transaction and the discount will automatically be applied within your basket. The offer does not apply to free events, or to any events which include a beverage or merchandise in the ticket price.
  • Media centre and images:
  • Hashtag: #ChelseaHistoryFest
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About the Chelsea History Festival

Launching in October 2019, the Chelsea History Festival is an annual festival aiming to draw visitors from near and far, to explore and celebrate history. Over five days, a diverse programme of events will entertain and inspire audiences of all ages. The festival is a partnership between three major heritage sites in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, along Royal Hospital Road: the National Army Museum, the Royal Hospital Chelsea and Chelsea Physic Garden.

More on partners, associates and supporters: