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London events in May

Get ready for a marvellous month with our selection of the best events, exhibitions and things to do in May 2019 in London

Swans, Kensington Gardens, London, May 2017
Richard/ Flickr
By Time Out London Things To Do |
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Prepare yourself for a marvellous May in London. Spring has officially sprung, the days are warming up and London’s parks are at their blooming best. Spend those sunny May days in London exploring the capital's great outdoors or sinking a drink (or two) on one of London's rooftop bars, which have just started to open. Be sure to make the most of not one, but two Bank Holidays in May, by checking out the city's new exhibitions and theatre shows. May in London is also the month of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London Craft Week, London Wine Week, the Hackney Half Marathon, Chelsea Fringe and Museums at NightHere's our guide to the best events, parties, pop-ups and things to do in May 2019 in London. You're in for one sweet, sweet month.

While your diary’s out, remember that it's never too early to start planning for June either.

RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar

The best May events in London

1
SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Things to do, Quirky events

Silent disco at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium

icon-location-pin SEA LIFE London Aquarium, South Bank
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Experience one of our signature silent discos at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium. Don a pair of glowing headphones and tune into one of three channels as you immerse yourself in the world of water. Tickets are just £29 and include the silent disco, welcome drink and guided tours of the brand new jellyfish exhibition.  

2
Things to do, Festivals

All Points East: In the Neighbourhood

icon-location-pin Victoria Park, South Hackney
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A four-day long bonanza of fun in between the two big weekends of All Points East festival. Go get your fest fix without spending a penny.

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3
Adams Anqitues Fair, press image, 2013
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Adams Antiques Fair

icon-location-pin The Royal Horticultural Hall, Victoria
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This huge antiques fair has been selling precious objects at 'The Horti' since the 1970s, making it one of the stalwarts of the London antiques scene. Join the queue that usually forms ahead of the opening hours to be among the first to browse the 140-odd stalls and find yourself a bargain. There's free parking for those looking to pick up a sizeable haul.

4
Things to do, pop-ups

The Aperol Spritz Big Birthday Social

icon-location-pin Shoreditch Electric Light Station, Shoreditch
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Aperol is celebrating its 100th anniversary in true Italian style with a ‘1919 Lido’, complete with a revolving carousel bar, Aperol-glass-shaped ball pit and classic Italian car hot tubs.

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5
Things to do, Festivals

Feria de Londres

icon-location-pin South Bank, South Bank
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The sun-drenched Spanish climes of Andalusia are coming to the bank s of the Thames for a festival full of mouth-watering tapas, sherry tastings and Jamón Ibérico masterclasses. Tuck into some organic gazpacho, watch life flamenco dancers and sample some moreish Andalusian cocktails. 

6
Amour, Charing Cross Theatre
© Scott Rylander
Theatre, Musicals

‘Amour’

icon-location-pin Charing Cross Theatre, Covent Garden
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An oddball French musical about a man who can walk through walls. Michel Legrand's wonderful score. 

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7
Bike Shed Motorcycle Club
Things to do

Bike Shed London

icon-location-pin Tobacco Dock, Wapping
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Rev up and get down to the Tobacco Dock for two days of motorcycles, where riders and bespoke makers from across Europe will be showcasing their builds, alongside street food, live music and art

8
Henry IV, Part 1, Shakespeare's Globe 2019
© Tristram Kenton
Theatre, Shakespeare

‘Henry IV Part 1, or Hotspur’

icon-location-pin Shakespeare's Globe, South Bank
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Shakespeare's beloved history play. Michelle Terry is jaw-droppingly good with her psycho take on rebel lord Hotspur.

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9
Inês Neto dos Santos
Things to do, Exhibitions

Tender Touches

icon-location-pin AMP Gallery, Peckham
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Ignore your mum. It's fine to play with your food. This space in Peckham is exploring scran as art, creating a ‘dining room’ where everything from the food to the furniture is an obet d'art. Order a dish from the curated menu and experience the pieces with all five senses. 

10
Things to do, Festivals

Chelsea Fringe

icon-location-pin Various London locations, London
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Sack off the main floral event for this blooming marvellous indie festival. Expect walks, talks workshops and a record attempt for the world's longest daisy chain. 

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11
'AI: More Than Human 2065 (preview)' by Lawrence Lek Courtesy the artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London
Museums

AI: More Than Human

icon-location-pin Barbican Centre, Barbican
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This massive interactive exhibition shows that the cleverest (or maybe the stupidest) thing humans have ever done is to create machines that can outwit us all. 

12
<meta charset="utf-8" /><p><span>Wendell Pierce</span></p>
Theatre, Drama

‘Death of a Salesman’

icon-location-pin Young Vic, Southwark
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Arthur Miller's play staged to centre on an African-American family. It finds new depths in a theatre classic.

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13
User Not Found, Dante or Die
© Justin Jones
Theatre, Interactive

User Not Found

icon-location-pin The Coffee Works Project Battersea, Nine Elms
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A beautiful site-specific show about grief in the web age. It's thought-provoking and deeply moving. 

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14
Mohamed Melehi 'Untitled' (1975). Image courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, photographed by CapitalD.
Art

‘New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School’

icon-location-pin The Mosaic Rooms, Earls Court
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Gorgeous modernist paintings from an unsung Moroccan great. They're beautiful, engrossing and full of symbolism. 

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15
Prabhavathi Meppayil, detail of 'I/forty four' (2019) © the artist. Image courtesy of Pace Gallery
Art

Prabhavathi Meppayil: ‘Recent Works’

icon-location-pin Pace Burlington Gardens, Mayfair
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Whiter-than-white canvases patterned with a goldsmith's tools. Less is more when it comes to these understated beauties.

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16
<meta charset="utf-8" /><p><span>Patsy Ferran (Olga), Pearl Chanda (Masha) and Ria Zmitrowicz (Irina)</span></p>
Theatre, Drama

‘Three Sisters’

icon-location-pin Almeida Theatre, Barnsbury
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Chekhov's classic directed by rising star Rebecca Frecknall. Patsy Ferran, Pearl Chanda and Ria Zmitrowicz are stunning siblings. 

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17
Copyright Denzil Forrester. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Art, Contemporary art

Denzil Forrester: ‘A Survey’

icon-location-pin Stephen Friedman, Mayfair
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Technicolour paintings inspired by reggae and dub clubs. These artworks will make you want to stay up dancing until 4am. 

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18
ALL MY SONS by Miller
Theatre, Drama

‘All My Sons’

icon-location-pin Old Vic, Southwark
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An all-star cast tackle Arthur Miller's devastating early play. Go see Hollywood legends Sally Field and Bill Pullman do their thing.

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19
Derek Jarman 'Untitled (Ship in Bottle)' (1989). Image courtesy of Amanda Wilkinson Gallery, London and Keith Collins Will Trust
Art

Derek Jarman: ‘Shadow Is the Queen of Colour’

icon-location-pin Amanda Wilkinson, Soho
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Grimy sculptural paintings by one of our great cultural polymaths. Their delicate, rough beauty is totally entrancing.

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21
<meta charset="utf-8" /><p><span>Anne-Marie Duff (Charity Hope Valentine)</span></p>
Theatre, Musicals

‘Sweet Charity’

icon-location-pin Donmar Warehouse, Covent Garden
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The classical musical gets an Andy Warhol makeover in Josie Rourke's Donmar swansong. Anne-Marie Duff is glorious in the title role. 

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22
Fiddler on the Roof, Playhouse Theatre 2019
© Johan Persson
Theatre, Musicals

‘Fiddler on the Roof’

icon-location-pin Playhouse Theatre, Charing Cross
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Trevor Nunn’s intense, dark-hued production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is as close as this Broadway classic could get to gritty naturalism. Andy Nyman is a real highlight where he makes wearily humorous work of the central role of Tevye, a dairyman bellowing ‘Tradition!’ at his five daughters.

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23
Things to do

The Monster

icon-location-pin Alexandra Palace, Muswell Hill
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At 300 metres long and with 40 hazards, this giant inflatable obstacle course really is one huge beast. See if you can beat the wobble (and tackle the 18 metre-long mega slide), before thrashing around in a unicorn ball pit.

24
Mandy El-Sayegh at Chisenhale Gallery by Andy Keate
Art

Mandy El-Sayegh: ‘Cite Your Sources’

icon-location-pin Chisenhale Gallery, Mile End
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A heady fusion of painting, found imagery, literature and lots of glue. It's a bit overwhelming, but it's full of great ideas. 

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25
Inês Neto dos Santos
Things to do, Exhibitions

Tender Touches

icon-location-pin AMP Gallery, Peckham
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Ignore your mum - it's fine to play with your food and at ‘Tender Touches’ an ‘art cafe’ where you can eat the artwork it's actually encouraged. Here, everything from the food to the furniture and the forks is a piece of art. Twelve artists have collaborated together to create the cafe. Visitors can tuck into a menu created by artist and co-curator Inês Neto dos Santos, which will focus on sustainable food practices. While the dining tables will be stencilled with special designs, the food will be served on sculpted ceramic crockery, eaten with specially designed crockery and the tables laid with customised napkins and candlesticks, even the wallpaper has been designed by one of the artists.  Look out for a series of supper clubs, artists performances and events that will accompany the exhibition.  

26
Things to do, Festivals

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

icon-location-pin London Gate, Chelsea
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Over 500 exhibitors are tending to their most prized plants for the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show, which has taken place annually (apart from a few gaps during the two world wars) for over 100 years now.  

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27
TOP GIRLS
Theatre, Drama

‘Top Girls’

icon-location-pin National Theatre, South Bank
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Caryl Churchill's iconic feminist masterpiece. Lyndsey Turner's massive production is a once-in-a-lifetime staging.

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28
Wicked, Apollo Victoria
© Matt Crockett
Theatre, West End

‘Wicked’

icon-location-pin Apollo Victoria, Victoria
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After its 2006 opening at Apollo Victoria, Oz prequel 'Wicked' continues to fill this massive theatre, but this stylish and bombastic musical still delivers, sailing over its patchy score thanks to a gravity-defying performance from its current leading lady Rachel Tucker. 

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29
Things to do, Festivals

Chelsea Fringe

icon-location-pin Various London locations, London
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This nine-day festival encompasses a huge selection of horticultural events which are largely volunteer-run and free. 

30
'Dido' at Unicorn Theatre
Theatre, Musicals

‘Dido’

icon-location-pin Unicorn Theatre, London Bridge
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Marking an end to Purni Morell's stint at the helm of Unicorn Theatre, this ambitious work is a new opera for teenagers and adults. It's a new story with a mother-daughter relationship at its heart. 

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31
Joaquín Sorolla 'The Pink Robe (La bata rosa)' (1916) © Museo Sorolla, Madrid
Art

‘Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light’

icon-location-pin National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
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The name Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida doesn't regularly trip off the tongues of London art fans. But that just makes this exhibition more worth a visit. His numerous landscapes, seascapes, garden and bathing scenes are classical in subject and style, but you can also spot similarities in Sorolla's practices with the (then) new-fangled French impressionist movement. 

32
© RMN
Art

‘Van Gogh and Britain’

icon-location-pin Tate Britain, Westminster
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A show all about the artists who influenced big Vinnie, and the ones he later inspired. There are some truly breathtaking paintings here.

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33
Things to do, Food and drink events

The BBQ Club: Patch & Picnic

icon-location-pin Southbank Centre, South Bank
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This summer barbecue bonanza created and helmed by chef Jimmy Garcia shows off his 7-course grilled barbecue creations on the rooftop terrace. Besides good food, you'll be able to get competitive with include Giant Jenga, Boules, Skittles, Beach Tennis and Swingball.

34
© Estate of Otto Dix 2018
Art

‘Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919 - 1933’

icon-location-pin Tate Modern, South Bank
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The term 'magic realism' is commonly used to describe the stories written by South American authors including Borges and Márquez. This exhibition remembers that the term was actually invented by German artist Franz Roh, who coined it as a name for the art created in his home country following the emotionally fraught German Expressionist movement.

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35
Luke Jerram's 'Museum of the Moon' at Greenwich and Docklands International Festival
© Luke Jerram
Things to do, Exhibitions

Museum of the Moon

icon-location-pin Natural History Museum, Brompton
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Luke Jerram's six-metre glowing sculpture has Nasa-inspired detail. It's lighting up the Natural History Museum for the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11. We have lift off!

36
Lee Krasner 'Icarus' (1964) Thomson Family Collection, New York City. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Image courtesy of Kasmin Gallery, New York. Photo: Diego Flores
Art

Lee Krasner: Living Colour

icon-location-pin Barbican Centre, Barbican
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Expect vivid canvases that explode in fireworks of colour at this retrospective of innovative abstract expressionist Lee Krasner. It's the visual equivalent of one of those Pret ginger shots - a proper kickstart to spring. 

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37
Edvard Munch 'On the Waves of Love'. Image courtesy of Munchmuseet
Art

Edvard Munch: ‘Love and Angst’

icon-location-pin British Museum, Bloomsbury
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Prints from art's greatest miserablist. The eyes of his works follow you around the room, and they'll haunt you when you leave. 

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38
Toast, The Other Palace
Theatre, Drama

‘Toast’

icon-location-pin The Other Palace, St James's Park
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Watch the adaptation of food writer Nigel Slater's memoir, Toast. Set in 1960s West Midlands and it'll also set your tastebuds well-seasoned.

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