London events in May

Get ready for a marvellous month with our selection of the best events, exhibitions and things to do in May 2018 in London

Richard/ Flickr

May hurray! London in May means spring is officially here, London’s parks are at their blooming best and royal wedding fever has hit the capital. Spend May in London exploring the capital's great outdoors or sinking a drink (or two) on one of London's rooftop bars. Be sure to get an eyeful of Kew Garden’s newly opened Temperate House and bag yourself a ticket to Victoria Park's new music festival All Points East. May in London is also the month of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London Craft Week and Museums at Night. Here's our guide to the best events, parties, pop-ups and things to do in May 2018 in London. You're in for one sweet, sweet month.

RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar

The best May events in London

2

All Points East

This brand spanking new festival taking over Victoria Park over the bank holiday has three jaw-dropping names acting as headliners: Björk, LCD Soundsystem and The xx. Boom. There's still tickets left so grab them fast. 

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Victoria Park , South Hackney Until Sunday June 3 2018
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3

Jam on Rye

Hit up this new music-and-nosh festival from the good folks at Kerb. The one-day event celebrates sound system culture with a side order of jerk chicken. The line-up promises a laid-back mix reggae, afrobeat and new wave jazz. 

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Peckham Rye Park , Peckham Rye Monday May 28 2018
4

Temperate House at Kew Gardens

5 out of 5 stars

Kew's magnificent Temperate House has been under reconstruction for the last five year. But on Saturday May 5, the huge Victorian structure finally set to reopen. It's large enough to hold three Boeing 747s and is overflowing with plants from temperate climes. 

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Kew
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5

The Magic Roundabout

Venue says: “Check out our events page for a full list of fun for the next 30 days!”

Forget about the circling traffic of Old Street at this tropical-themed, flamingo-filled bar plonked right in the middle of London's most confusing roundabout. 

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Old Street
6

‘Red’

4 out of 5 stars

Finally bagging itself a West End transfer a hefty nine years after its hit run at the Donmar Warehouse, Michael Grandage’s production of John Logan’s ‘Red’ has lost none of its power over the decade. The subject is art, and an artist: abstract expressionist Mark Rothko (played by Alfred Molina, star of the Donmar run). 

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Wyndham's Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday July 28 2018
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7

Midnight Apothecary

Sip botanical cocktails, pile round campfires, toasting marshmallows, tuck into Greek street food and venture into the Brunel tunnel - a giant subterranean concert hall - at this quirky cocktail takeover at the Brunel Museum's rooftop garden.

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Brunel Museum , Rotherhithe Until Saturday September 29 2018
8

'Killer Joe'

Erstwhile elf and occasional pirate Orlando Bloom returns to the West End for the first time in a decade to star as a cop who moonlights as a killer-for-hire in this revival of US playwright Tracy Letts's 1993 play. 

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Trafalgar Studios , Whitehall Until Saturday August 18 2018
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9

Zip Now London

Hurtle along Zip Now London’s 225-metre zip wire descent in central London. They've brought their high-flying antics back to the South Bank, so you can take in the sights of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament while zooming through the air. 

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Archbishop's Park , Lambeth Until Sunday September 9 2018
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11

Skylight

This rooftop playground in Tobacco Dock is back for some summer fun. Go for three floors of bars, street food, croquet and pétanque with some unparalleled panoramas of the city skyline. 

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Tobacco Dock , Wapping Until Sunday September 16 2018
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13

Bank holiday in London

Bank holidays in London can be intimidating. You have three (potentially) sunny days to fill. But, resist temptation to hide away. There's so much happening over the late May bank holiday, you just need someone to put it all in a neat little package. So we did. 

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By: Time Out London Things To Do
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15

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Over 500 exhibitors are tending to their most prized plants for the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show. This year the theme is health and wellbeing and it will also host its first ever late-night evening of live music and entertainment. 

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Royal Hospital Chelsea , Chelsea Until Saturday May 26 2018
16

Chelsea in Bloom

Chelsea’s annual floral art show is back in town. This year’s theme is ‘Summer of Love’ inspired by, you guessed it, the Royal Wedding. As always the streets will be transformed with wonderful floral displays created by retailers in the borough.

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Various London locations , London Until Saturday May 26 2018
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17

'Red, White, Blue: Global Colours'

Get taken around the world via the vibrant work of 37 photographers from 24 countries at the latest exhibition from Getty Images Gallery. The striking images all show there’s more to the colours red, white and blue than the Union Jack. 

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Getty Images Gallery , Fitzrovia Until Saturday May 26 2018
18

'The Writer'

Ella Hickson is back at the Almeida after her brilliant 2016 epic ‘Oil’ with a new plat kicking off an (almost) all-female season of work at Rupert Goold's theatre. 

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Almeida Theatre , Barnsbury Until Saturday May 26 2018
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19

‘Nine Night’

4 out of 5 stars

Watch this funny and intense drama set around the edges of a Jamaican wake. It's a brilliant debut from writer Natasha Gordon.

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National Theatre , South Bank Until Saturday May 26 2018
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22

Feria de Londres

Andalusia is coming to the banks of the Thames for a weekend festival full of tapas, Spanish beer, wine, sherry tastings and unique masterclasses.

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South Bank , South Bank Until Sunday May 27 2018
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24

Chelsea Fringe

This three-week festival encompasses a huge selection of horticultural events which are largely volunteer-run and free. Among those confirmed so far are pop-up art gardens, a floating meadow and a botanical sculpture trail. 

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Various London venues , London Until Sunday May 27 2018
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26

Raw Power

This super-psychedelic festival returns to genteel Tufnell Park for three days of loud fun centered around tripped-out sounds of all kinds, from drone to noise to ambient, fuzz-drenched jam sessions. 

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The Dome , Tufnell Park Until Sunday May 27 2018
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27

Gala

Beats and eats is the name of the game at May gathering. Its focus is on street food and craft beer alongside a DJ-driven line-up. Stage hosts this year include Rhythm Section and Horse Meat Disco.

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Peckham Rye Park , Peckham Rye Sunday May 27 2018
28

Africa at Spitalfields

Africa at Spitalfields is back for its sixth year, offering city dwellers the chance to experience (and purchase a bit of) African culture without leaving the capital. The one-day market takeover will see produce and cuisine from all corners of the continent, as well as stalls selling art, literature and instruments. 

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Spitalfields Market , Spitalfields Monday May 28 2018
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29

All Points Equal

Celebrate 100 years of (some) women getting the right to vote at this day-long bank holiday party put on by the folks behind All Points East, full of feminist screenings, panel talks with Dr Helen Pankhurst and live music.

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Victoria Park , South Hackney Monday May 28 2018
30

Femmetopia Festival

Ladies, get in formation and leg it down to Femmetopia Festival. Through five days of performance, workshops, discussions, dance, screenings, films, parties and calls to action the festival wants Londoners to ‘shatter binary limitations’. 

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VFD , Shacklewell Until Monday May 28 2018
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31

MOSUK Festival

London’s largest graffiti and street art festival is back to cover one of the largest walls in Shoreditch with carefully placed paint splatters. The artists will do their thing to a soundtrack of DJs and beatboxers in this former dustball turned urban oasis next to the train lines. 

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Nomadic Community Gardens , Bethnal Green Saturday May 26 2018 - Monday May 28 2018
32

‘Not Talking’

4 out of 5 stars

Grab this rare chance to see the great Mike Bartlett's first play. It's a startling powerful play about the dangers of silence. 

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Arcola Theatre , Kingsland Until Saturday June 2 2018
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34

Block Universe

This annual dance and performance festival is back across an eclectic group of venues including The Store X 180, Brunel Museum and the British Museum. Encounter bold moves which explore the current political climate and unpick the utopian ideals of community, sex and relationships. 

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Various , London Saturday May 26 2018 - Sunday June 3 2018
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37

'Effigies of Wickedness'

Listen to Covent Garden opera singers and Dalston queer cabaret stars resurrect the subversive '20s and '30s songs the Nazis banned. Gate Theatre is teaming up with English National Opera for this recreation of the gleefully transgressive world of the Weimar cabaret scene.

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Gate Theatre , Notting Hill Until Saturday June 9 2018
38

'Windrush: Portrait of a Generation'

This exhibition by award-winning photographer Jim Grover commemorates the 70th anniversary of the arrival of Caribbean migrants on the ship Empire Windrush. It's a celebration of the British African-Caribbean community and a portrait of the UK as it embraced an increasingly multi-racial identity. 

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Gallery@oxo , South Bank Until Sunday June 10 2018
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39

'Quiz'

See playwright James Graham's fourth West End hit. It's a dramatisation of the 'coughing major' trial. You know, the one where former British Army officer Charles Ingham was put in the dock for cheating on TV quiz 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?'. 

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Noël Coward Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday June 16 2018
40

'Surface Work'

4 out of 5 stars

The history of art is full of old dead white blokes. So don't miss this show featuring a century of abstract art by women. Men schmen, this proves how rich and varied the history of abstraction really is. 

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Victoria Miro Mayfair , Mayfair Until Saturday June 16 2018
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42

Molly Soda

4 out of 5 stars

Sere Youtube-based internet art about the nastiness of the web. Soda's work is political, feminine and more than a little interesting. 

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Annka Kultys , Bethnal Green Until Saturday June 16 2018
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43

'Frida’s Parlour’

Step into ‘Frida’s Parlour’, an interactive installation inspired by Mexican icon Frida Kahlo. Explore (and take a selfie or two) in rooms plastered in flowery green wallpaper inspired by the backdrop in Nickolas Muray’s iconic photograph ‘Frida Kahlo on The Bench’ and take part in a slew of workshops inspired by Frida's famous style. 

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141 Ebury Street , Belgravia Until Saturday June 16 2018
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45

'Up Close With Marilyn'

Marilyn Monroe and celebrity photographer Milton H. Greene became firm friends after collaborating on a 1953 photo shoot. This exhibition cherry-picks from Greene's archive of more than 5,000 Monroe images to give an intimate and fascinating insight into an enduring Hollywood icon.

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Proud Central , Charing Cross Until Sunday June 24 2018
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47

Chelsea Fringe

Hit up this three-week festival offering a huge selection of horticultural events which are largely volunteer-run and free. Among those confirmed so far are pop-up art gardens, a floating meadow, a botanical sculpture trail, pop-up bouquet workshops, a performance from the London Vegetable Orchestra. 

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Various London venues , London Until Sunday May 27 2018
48

The Rolling Stones at Selfridges, Corner Shop

Die-hard Stones fans will be in seventh heaven at the pop-up tribute store to the iconic band at The Corner Shop at Selfridges. Browse stage outfits from the archive, relive their historic Cuba concert with headphones and videos and pick up brand new merch. 

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Selfridges , Oxford Street Until Sunday June 3 2018
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50

'Marianna Simnett'

4 out of 5 stars

See gory, surreal films about the body and a seriously panic-inducing installation. Art doesn't often take your breath away, but Simnett's will leave you gasping for air. 

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Zabludowicz Collection , Chalk Farm Until Sunday July 8 2018
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52

'Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier'

Greta Garbo, Grace Jones, Michelle Obama and Rihanna were all fans of fashion designer Azzedine Alaia. Swoon over his back catalogue of remarkable creations (which were often closer to artworks than outfits) in this exhibition of garments personally selected by Alaia prior to his death in 2017.

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Design Museum , Kensington Until Sunday October 7 2018
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55

‘As You Like It’/ 'Hamlet'

3 out of 5 stars

Actor-director Michelle Terry is kicking off her time in charge the Globe with a rep season of ‘As You Like It’ and ‘Hamlet’ that features, ‘a gender-blind, race-blind, disability-blind’ company of actors.

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Shakespeare's Globe , South Bank Sunday May 27 2018 - Sunday August 26 2018
56

'Somewhere in Between'

3 out of 5 stars

Semen straws are used to artificially inseminate. But artist Maria McKinney has another use for them: building sculptures. They make up the first room of this exhibition that looks at the point where science and art meet. 

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Wellcome Collection , Bloomsbury Until Monday August 27 2018
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57

Art Now: 'Lisa Brice'

4 out of 5 stars

Feast your eyes on bold, blue and beautiful paintings of empowered women. Brice does art with attitude, and that's a really good thing. 

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Tate Britain , Westminster Until Monday August 27 2018
58

Neverland London

This Thames-side urban beach, is back and it's going to be perfect for lazy summer days in Fulham. Go for cabanas, daybeds, beach huts and, of course, truck loads of sand along the river.  

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Neverland London , Parsons Green Until Friday August 31 2018
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60

'Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern'

Calling hardcore Orla Kiely fans. The Irish designer’s retro-inspired handiwork has reached iconic status, making her more than deserving of this solo exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum. Celebrate a brilliant (and ongoing career) with items created over the last 20 years.

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Fashion and Textile Museum , London Bridge Until Sunday September 23 2018
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61

'Teeth'

Overdue a trip to the dentist? You'll want to book an appointment after seeing 'Teeth' - an exhibition all about perfect gnashers and the history of dentistry. 

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Wellcome Collection , Bloomsbury Until Sunday September 16 2018
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63

Summer of Sound on The Roof

The Gardening Society at John Lewis is turning into a live music venue. Rock up for garden gigs, immersive studio spaces, DJ sets and fried chicken from 'Butcies', all a world away from the hustle and bustle below. 

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John Lewis , Oxford Street Until Saturday September 29 2018
64

Piculpeper

Meet the real London Gherkin at the Culpeper, which has transformed into a rooftop pickle paradise. Cucumbers growing in the garden will be used in the Culpeper's dishes and cocktails. And yep, there's an eight-foot fibreglass pickle in the mix too. It's kind of a big dill. 

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Culpeper Roof Garden , Whitechapel Until Sunday September 30 2018
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65

Pitch

This open-air venue that's part cinema, part street food market, part 80s installation is the place to be on sunny days this summer. Catch a film screening or tuck into a hot dog on one of the pastel picnic benches.

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Stratford
66

Roof East

Feeling competitive? Save your energy: the fairground in the sky 'Roof East' is open from May 3 for its usual summer appearance in Stratford. Go for a round of crazy golf, or just take in the Olympic Park views from your deckchair. 

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Stratford
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67

The Lost Vegas Rooftop

The Queen of Hoxton rooftop's new summer incarnation is a Las Vegas set in 2030 after eco-warriors have taken over town. Meet Elvis in an overgrown Little Vegas Wedding Chapel or pigging out on vegan grub from an abandoned yellow school bus bar. 

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Queen of Hoxton , Shoreditch Until Monday October 1 2018
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69

Roman Dead

Get acquainted with Londoners from 2000 years ago in their final resting places. The Museum of London Docklands lets you into the world of Roman burial rites and rituals. There are several skeletons on display along with hidden treasures found with the dead, including a jet pendant of Medusa.

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Museum of London Docklands , Canary Wharf Until Sunday October 28 2018
70

Picturing Forgotten London

Check out long-gone landmarks, vanished streets and neighbourhoods that are no more at the London Metropolitan Archives' exhibition. Through drawings, photographs, engravings, maps, films and contemporary recollections discover bits of London that have been lost over the years. 

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London Metropolitan Archives , Clerkenwell Monday May 28 2018 - Wednesday October 31 2018
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71

'The Future Starts Here'

See a collection of over 100 objects ranging from futuristic smart appliances, satellites, and iterations of artificial intelligence to more cutting-edge aspects of internet culture at this showcase of where we may be in the near future. If we make it that far. 

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V&A , Brompton Until Sunday November 4 2018
72

'London Nights'

Take a look at the city after dark through contemporary and historical imagery, from the 19th century through to the present day. This exhibition looks at how photographers have captured the aesthetic of the city at night and how Londoners live their lives after hours.

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Museum of London , Smithfield Until Sunday November 11 2018
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