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45 perfect ways to spend your bank holiday weekend in London

Written by
Stephanie Hartman

The long weekend is upon us and there's no shortage of fun to be had in London. Get yourself to a May Day celebration in Brixton, chomp your way through a falafel festival at Borough Market or check out the colourful canal boats in Little Venice. Turn yourself into an instant bank holiday baller with our suggestions below! 

Things to do 

V&A Friday Late: Baroque to the Future, V&A, TONIGHT, free. The V&A is going for Baroque with its next late opening. Learn a courtly dance and explore the dining habits of the era. There’ll be Europop from Jacqui Potato – not a feature of the period but fun nonetheless.

Bike Smut, Look Mum No Hands!, TONIGHT, £10. Poppy Cox is a self identifying bike-sexual. She will be bringing the last ever evening of DIY erotic short films to Old Street after nine years of championing bike and sex cinema. 

Made London Bloomsbury, Mary Ward House, Fri-Sun, £10 free under-14s. This new companion show to Made London in Marylebone showcases the wares of over 100 exhibitors working across craft and design.

Peckham Salvage Yard, Copeland Park, Sat-Sun, free. Get your paws on vintage threads, homeware and handmade items at this south London fair from the gang behind Hackney Flea Market.

Brockwell Lido Modern Movement Design Fair, Brockwell Lido, Sat-Sun, free. Brockwell Lido is a flawless art deco building so it makes sense that this Modern design fair has kept returning for almost a decade. Dealers will display their stylish furniture, lighting, clothing, glass and objets d'art poolside.

Canalway Cavalcade, Little Venice, Sat-Mon, free. 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.

Boozy Bowling Weekender, All Star Lanes, Sat-Mon, £8.95 per game per person. This bank holiday weekend All Star Lanes are throwing a late night happy hour (9-11pm) with a free round of shots to whoever can bowl over 125 points or a free lobster dinner to the King Pin who can bowl over 200 points.

Kentish Town City Farm May Day Festival, Kentish Town, Sun, £1 adults, 50p children. Kentish Town City Farm are throwing their annual May Day Festival so expect maypole dancing, tombola, pony rides, a tug of war, live music, art activities and, of course, their whole family of different animals including Zorro the billy goat and Shirley the cow.

May Day Festival, Pop Brixton, Sun, free. A day of eating, drinking and outdoor fun as the roof comes off at Pop Brixton. Highlights include a Vietnamese brunch club, garland making, live music and gardening classes for the little ones.

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

Gumball 3000 Rally on Regent Street, Regent Street, Mon, free. The Gumball 3000 sees 100 supercars race through five countries in a seven-day, 3,000-mile motor marathon. In celebration once again, Regent Street will be taken over for a day of car displays, extreme sports demonstrations and live music.

…or check out more events happening in London this weekend.


London Falafel Festival





Eating and drinking

The Priory Arms May Bank Holiday Beer Festival, South Lambeth, Fri-Mon. This is an easy numbers game. Over 100 beers, 11 keg beers, 20 real ales, 6 real ciders, over 70 bottles, four days and one you.

Dalston Yard, Hartwell Street, Fri-Sat, free before 7pm, £3 after. Dalston Yard returns for summer 2016 with heaps of delicious street food piled high. Choose from 16 different traders and 12 bars serving up top bevs.

London Falafel Festival, Borough Market, Sun, £20. Falafel is not just a meat alternative to offer vegetarian guests - it's almost a religion. This festival will see chefs flying in from Cairo, Beirut (and on the underground from north London) to Borough Market with four very different falafel recipes.

The Bloody Brunch Club, Stage 3, Sun, £21. The Bloody Brunch Club team view this May Bank Holiday special as a bridge to more partying rather than their usual recovery session. Douse yourself in Bloody Marys to a soundtrack of soul, funk and reggae and screenings of classic childhood films.

The Beggars Banquet presents: Highly Sprung, The Moonshine Ballroom, Sun, £25-£35. A five-course feast accompanied by live music, circus acts, DJs and more. Over 70 percent of the produce used on the menu is salvaged surplus, cooked up by talented east London chefs.

Brixton Beer and Bread Festival, Brixton Windmill, Mon. This festival organised in collaboration with Brixton Brewery 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.

…or check out the latest restaurant reviews.


© Mihaela Bodlovic






Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho, Southbank Centre, TONIGHT, £15.50, concs £14. Matt Tedford's cross-dressing version of the Iron lady was a huge hit at the Edinburgh Fringe. Watch as Mags gets lost in London's notoriously saucy Soho on the eve of the vote for Section 28, and accidentally becomes a cabaret sensation.

Late Night Laughs, Royal Albert Hall, TONIGHT, £15. Tonight's late-night bill features Edinburgh Comedy Award-winner Phil Nichol, Carl Hutchinson and MC Mae Martin.

Knightmare Live!, Udderbelly, Sun, £16.50, £15 concs. 'Welcome, watchers of illusion, to the castle of confusion.' Yep, the slapstick stage show version of the iconic kids' TV show takes up residency at the Udderbelly.

…or check out all the critics’ choice comedy shows.






Live music

Lethal Bizzle, Koko, TONIGHT, £18.50. Walthamstow grime MC Bizzle is back to his first line of bizznizz, picking up the mic and causing all kinds of merry mayhem.

Desertfest, multiple venues, Fri-Sun, £40-£45, weekend ticket £100. The capital's premier festival of stoner rock and doom metal returns. It's run by the promotion company Desertscene, who have been putting on heavy, heavy music in the capital since 2009, and has a sister event in Berlin.

Fluffer Pit Parties, Secret London location, Fri-Sat, £15. In a praiseworthy attempt to put some of the underground thrill back into London’s rock ’n’ roll scene, east London indie label Fluffer Records are putting on a series of shows in a secret warehouse venue.

…or take a look at all the live music events in London this weekend.







The Goblin King's Annual Masquerade Ball, The Coronet, TONIGHT, £25. This weird and wonderful tale of goblins, nymphs, fairies and bizarre beasts is told through live music, DJs spinning freaky tunes, cabaret, performance, hidden experiences, interactive creatures, puppetry and art.

Norman Jay, Prince of Wales, Sat, £10. The seminal DJ and main man behind the Good Times Soundsystem beloved of Notting Hill Carnival-goers unleashes one of his funky, rare groove and soulful house to hip hop, disco and reggae sets.

Hip Hop 'N' Bowl, Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes, Sat, £7. A hip hop bowl-a-rama, you say? Why the hell not. Classic and new sounds – think Snoop, Biggie, Busta, Missy, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Kanye – spun by Supa Dupa Fly's Emily Rawson, DJ Fearney and guests.

Ms Dynamite, Clapham Grand, Sun, adv £5 & £8. Fiery rapper Ms Dy-na-mi-tee – a Mercury Prize winner from back in the day – shows off her sharp-tongued skills with a mix of hip hop and a dash of grime attitude.

Mike Skinner, XOYO, Sun, £13.50 adv. The mockney urban musings of The Streets may be but a distant memory, but Mike Skinner's separate DJ career has turned out pretty well. Hear him spin house, bass, hip hop, garage and a good few bangers to boot.

Find Me In The Dark, Corsica Studios, Sun, £5-£17.50. Don't worry, you won't have to do too much searching in the dark to find this beast of a techno party – it's handily located in one of London's best clubs, Corsica Studios.

…or see all the parties planned this weekend.


Captain America: Civil War






Studio Ghibli Forever: ‘Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind’, Picturehouse Central, Sat, £8. Over the next few months, London’s Picturehouse cinemas will once a week screen classic movies from the Studio Ghibli stable. The season kicks off with Hayao Miyazaki’s magical eco-fable. 

Reel Japan Film Festival, The Yard Theatre, Sat-Sun, £5. This celebration of contemporary Japanese cinema returns for the second year, once again highlighting cult and indie filmmakers, all tied up within the theme 'Twisted Love'. 

Sci-Fi London & Science Fiction Theatre: ‘Fantastic Voyage’ + talk, The Victoria, Mon, £5. The annual Sci-Fi London film festival offers a wealth of new sci-fi movies plus quizzes, talks and even a space-themed dog show.

The Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy, Prince Charles Cinema, Mon, £22.50. The epically longer, infinitely better extended cuts of Peter Jackson’s trilogy get a rare big-screen outing this bank holiday Monday.

Or at the cinema...

Captain America: Civil War ★★★★☆ Marvel's latest superhero epic sees Captain America pitched against Iron Man – and the result is an enjoyable feast of action, humour and ideas.

Son of Saul ★★★★★ Both disturbing and dazzling, this debut features plunges us into the belly of the beast at Auschwitz.

…or see all of the latest releases.


© Johan Persson






Show Boat, New London Theatre, Fri-Sat, £19.50-£69.50. This gorgeous musical theatre classic steams into the West End after a successful mooring in Sheffield.

Shit-Faced Shakespeare, Leicester Square Theatre, Fri-Sat, £18.50. Transferring from cult success at the Edinburgh Fringe is ‘Shit-Faced Shakespeare’, an anarchic adaptation of the Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ where one member of the cast gets tanked up before curtains up.

The Toxic Avenger, The Toxic Avenger, Fri-Sat, Mon, £25, £20 concs. Joyously lurid rock'n'roll comedy musical based on the cult film of the same name.

…or see our theatre critics’ choices.


© Duffy Archive





This week's best new art

Brian Duffy, The Hospital Club, Fri-Sat, free. Along with David Bailey and Terence Donovan, Brian Duffy – with his wild, unpolished snaps – was one of the photographers who helped encapsulate the spirit of the ’60s. 

Alberto Giacometti, Yves Klein: In Search of the Absolute, Gagosian Gallery, Fri-Sat, free. The existentialist sculptor Alberto Giacometti and wry conceptualist Yves Klein are rarely mentioned in the same sentence. But they only worked a mile apart in Paris in the 1950s and ’60s – and, as this exhibition aims to demonstrate, the two artists have far more in common than you might suspect.

Ettore Spalletti: Every Dawn is First / Ogni Alba è la Prima, Marian Goodman Gallery, Fri-Sat, free. The Italian artist will be showing the most recent of his airy, minimal, geometric abstract works in his first solo UK exhibition in a decade.

Yoshitomo Nara: New Works, Stephen Friedman, Fri-Sat, free. The Japanese artist's fourth show at this Mayfair space will feature canvas paintings, panel paintings and drawings.


…or see all London art reviews.

And finally

Win... one of five pairs of tickets to Wilderness festival or a pair of VIP weekend tickets to Lovebox Festival 2016

Grab... tickets to a taxidermy workshop with A Curious Invitation

Book… these gigs while you still can

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