This month has two Bank Holidays which is reason enough to celebrate – and what better way to do it than to pick from the best city’s best events? We have everything from quintessentially British street parties and flower shows to Polish festivals and Tattoo Shows, so you’ll be struggling to claim there’s nothing you fancy. Whether you want to be inspired, be entertained or be fed copious amounts of wine, read on for all the details you need.
Samsung Great Court Games, May 5th
A way to get kids into a museum with the temptation of technology, this free event allows the whole family to try out the newest inventions from Samsung. With challenges to solve, digital games to play and museum trails to follow, this is a fun and explorative afternoon for everyone.
Canalway Cavalcade, May 5th — 7th
A celebration of the nautical communities of London, this event is a great way to spend a British Bank Holiday by the water. Taking place along the Grand Union Canal, there will be 130 floating homes moored up in their decorative-best for the pageant. As well as making for a very picturesque stroll, there will be some traditional entertainment along the way including Morris dancing, real ales, trade stalls, live music and entertainment for kids.
Days of Poland Festival, May 6th
The largest Polish festival in the whole of the UK, this is a celebration of the culture, food, music and arts of our European neighbor. There will be activities for children and performances of both traditional and contemporary skills. If you’re feeling the need to experience a bit of Europe (before it’s too late) or show some support to our Polish residents, what better way?
See London’s oldest wooden puppet show with Punch, Judy and all their friends. There will be an accompanying brass band procession, workshops, clowns, folk music and refreshments of course. The procession starts at 11am and at 12pm there will be a church service followed by more performances. Refreshments provided by Food Chain are raising money for Londoners living with HIV.
The merging of two classic tales will take place at the British Museum in an afternoon of drama, mythical romance and raucous Greek mythology. Performed by Sally Pomme Clayton, you’re in for a treat as she has performed at the Barbican, the Bristol Old Vic, the National Theater and has toured the world with the British Council. Note that no children are allowed to attend the performance due to the content.
London Wine Week, May 14th – 20th
For those who consider themselves to be a secret sommelier, London Wine Week is upon us (and the hangovers are expected soon after). Get yourself a wristband and enjoy self-guided wine tours, events and tasting sessions. Devonshire Square will be the main area for masterclasses, parties and pop-ups while participating bars will be offering deals and discounts to tempt you in for a tipple.
Museums at Night, May 16th – 19th
This is a fantastic chance to see a whole new side to London’s museum scene and to get involved too! There are 500 participating locations with over 700 events (many free) including Suffragette Gaming at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Symbols at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, and Banknotes and Bullion at the Bank of England Museum. Other events run from £6 to £22.
Urban Village Fete, May 20th
A modern twist on the traditional British fete, this event celebrates art, design, music and craftsmanship with creative workshops and stalls. There will be attractions like giant slinkies (worth it for that alone), hula-hooping classes and international street food to keep your energy levels up. DJ Giles Peterson will be presiding and Mr Wilson’s Second Liners will be bringing the soul of New Orleans via brass band performances.
London Motor Show, May 17th – 20th
Car fanatics will already be prepping their passes and planning their days, but if you weren’t in the know already, this is your heads-up for the capital’s best-known car show. This is a great chance to see all the makes, models and futuristic inventions from the biggest names in the car industry as well as hear talks by motoring celebrities and a range of family-friendly interactive exhibits and activities.
Photo London, May 17th – 20th
Indulge yourself in your passion (if your passion happens to be photography that is) with this jam-packed weekend celebrating all things caught-on-camera. There will be book signings, special installations, a fair of 80 of the world’s top galleries and three major exhibits. Weekend tickets offer the best value for money, but day-tickets are also available.
Antiques and Collectors Fair, May 20th
Ally Pally will be hosting over 300 antique wheelers and dealers to tempt you in to spending some of your hard earned cash on a new-found treasure. Since taking over the venue in 2014 it has doubled in size and has a great variety of items on offer including ceramics, jewelry and art. Pop Up Vintage Fairs London will be there too so if you’re a vintage fashion lover don’t miss the best picks. Trade buyers enter from 8.30am for £12 and public buyers from 9.30am for £6.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show, May 22nd – 26th
Everyone’s favourite flower show of the year, this British institution is back with more incredible garden creations to make your green fingers itch. This is the first year that hours have been extended into the evening, so you can enjoy the views as the sun sets. The Chelsea Late Events are an attempt to encourage younger guests to attend and there will be live music, artisan food stalls and wandering artists for a creative garden party vibe.
MCM Comic Con, May 25th – 27th
The biggest pop-culture event in the UK, MCM comic con is back and bigger than ever – gathering cosplayers, film geeks and graphic novel enthusiasts together under one roof. There will be special guests, a chance to don your favourite costume or try the latest games, experience Asian food, manga and anime and meet your top authors and illustrators.
The Great British Tattoo Show, May 26th – 27th
Love the world of ink? The Tattoo show will be taking over Alexandra Palace to display the best creators and their creations and offer you a chance to get a souvenir you’ll be keeping forever. There will be fashion shows, live music, food and drink as well as tattoo removers for those elegant names of long-gone exes.
Star of Bethnal Green Street Party, May 28th
A fantastic street party to celebrate the second bank holiday of the month, this event runs from 12pm to 9pm before turning into a party and continuing until the early hours. There’s plenty for families to do including face painting, bouncy castles, entertainers and food to enjoy. Grab an early bird ticket for £3 if you can!
Underbelly Festival, Until September
A celebration spanning the summer months, this event combines the Wunderground and Underbelly festivals into one big festival of music, art and performances. The area is fun and free, but the performances are almost all ticketed although they do all cost under £20. The festival focuses on the four Cs: Circus, comedy, cabaret and children’s theater, so take your pick and pop in!
Last Chance Exhibitions
Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound | Until May 13th | Euston | Free
Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition | Until July 22nd | Greenwich | Free
Votes for Women Centenary Exhibition | Until Jan 9th 2019 | Barbican | Free
Poster Women: A Century of Art and Design | Until Jan 2019 | Covent Garden | Free upon entry