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Top ten things to do this May bank holiday

With this line-up of events, the early May bank holiday weekend is guaranteed to be a winner

© IWA’s volunteer photographers

Forget about work, shift yourself from the sofa and get out and about over the first of the two May long weekends. Plan your time off to the minute with our round-up of the very best events taking place in the capital this bank holiday weekend (Friday Apr 29 - Monday May 2 2016).

RECOMMENDED: Read our full guide to the bank holiday in London

May bank holiday in London events


Canalway Cavalcade

Critics' choice

The pretty waterways of Little Venice will be even more colourful than usual for 2016's May bank holiday weekend as the Inland Waterways Association organises their annual gathering of canal boats. Around 130 boats will be moored along the stretch of the Grand Union Canal between Blomfield Road, Warwick Avenue and Warwick Crescent for the Canalway Cavalcade, which has taken place every year since 1983.

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Little Venice , Maida Vale Monday May 2 2016

Pick Me Up

Celebrating graphic design in all its manifestations, the best artists, illustrators and designers will once again create engaging displays and interactive stands in the Embankment Galleries at Somerset House. For all the high-profile names involved, there’s an informal art-school vibe to this annual festival.

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Monday May 2 2016

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear

Get ready to have shirts and skirts stripped back to focus on the skivvies that shape the body below at this exhibition charting how underwear supports and firms the figure, as well as the sexual and sensual appeal it holds. Around 200 garments and accessories will be on display, from long cotton drawers worn by Queen Victoria's mother to an Antonio Berardi dress sported by Gwyneth Paltrow. 

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V&A , Brompton Until Sunday March 12 2017

Sephardi Festival

A 2-day festival shing a light on Spanish, Portuguese and North African Jewish culture, music, film and history including a panel discussion on Sephardi food with dishes served in JW3's in-house restaurant Zest.

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JW3 , Frognal Monday May 2 2016

Rich Mix For Free

As part of Rich Mix's extended 10th birthday bash is this free festival with live music, freestyle poetry, glitter tattoos, a drumming circle and the Grand Union Orchestra's radical take on traditional Bengali songs.

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Monday May 2 2016

The Nest Collective’s Campfire Club

London folk fanatics The Nest Collective host a series of open-air campfire shows, with live acoustic music, singalongs, storytelling and that magical woody aroma. There are two venues, one in Peckham the other is a secret location in East London, the full address will be sent to ticket holders.

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Secret London location , London Friday May 6 2016 - Friday August 5 2016

Brixton Beer and Bread Festival

2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the Brixton Windmill and to celebrate they have a jam-packed programme of events scheduled throughout the year. One of the highlights includes this Beer and Bread Festival organised in collaboration with Brixton Brewery. The event will see the launch of Brixton Windmill Flour and milling of malt for beer, plus the burial of a time capsule to mark the bicentenary.

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Monday May 2 2016

Grand Designs Live

Design guru Kevin McCloud and sustainable-living lover Charlie Luxton will be alternating days at this year's aspirational consumer show. More than 500 exhibitors offer products and services intended to help you build, design, decorate or eco-renovate, and a number of full-scale properties are set up to help visitors visualise home improvement ideas. 

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ExCeL London , Custom House Until Sunday May 8 2016

Looking for more bank holiday ideas?

Bank holiday in London

If laying in bed with a boxset was your initial bank holiday plan, scrap it – there's too much going on to stay indoors.

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By: Things To Do Editors