Be inspired and entertained at a celebration of history and heritage in the heart of Chelsea
The first-ever Chelsea History Festival will bring the past to life in one of London’s most ancient districts over five fascinating days.
The festival’s co-founders – the National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Chelsea and Chelsea Physic Garden – host a packed programme of talks, workshops, guided walks, music and family fun.
Join world-class speakers, authors, historians and performers as you step into the stories that shape our world.
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.
Explore an unmissable mix of talks, walks, music and more
Visitors of all ages will find plenty to excite, inspire and entertain.
An impressive line-up of speakers includes the celebrated writer Max Hastings sharing insights from his new book Chastise: the Dambusters Story, Sonia Purnell on A Woman of No Importance – her compelling account of the Second World War’s most dangerous spy – and David Nott relating his dramatic experiences as a surgeon in Aleppo.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the daring Operation Market Garden, you can listen to campaign veteran Victor Gregg in conversation with bestselling historian Rick Stroud, followed by a fascinating talk by Antony Beevor, all brought to life by re-enactors and artefacts.
Music-lovers can indulge in everything from a rousing military big band to Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending – voted Britain’s favourite piece of classical music – and a performance by leading baritone Roderick Williams.
There’s plenty to keep children amused, with a choice of immersive games, marching drills and hands-on activities. And all the family can enjoy enlightening history walks, botanical workshops and exciting first-hand stories from the likes of Thameside mudlarker Lara Maiklem, London tree enthusiast Paul Wood and even a medieval archer, transported to modern-day Chelsea from 15th-century Agincourt.
All the fun of the festival at three magnificent venues
The events take place in and around three iconic venues, which provide a fitting backdrop for the festival. The National Army Museum showcases more than 350 years of soldiers’ stories; Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital Chelsea has been home to the Chelsea Pensioners since 1682; while the delightful Chelsea Physic Garden preserves botanical history in a green oasis founded in 1672.
Fancy a snack or something more substantial; a treat of tea and cake or just a glass of wine? Each venue offers festival refreshments so you can refuel and refresh while you enjoy a fun day out.
Whether you live in London, or are passing through, don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this brand-new event in London’s cultural calendar.