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Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre, 2023
Photo: Manuel Harlan

15 Best May Bank Holiday Events In London 2023: Top Things To Do

Make the most of those sweet three days off

Rosie Hewitson
Written by
Rosie Hewitson
Alex Sims

Don’t be fooled into thinking summer starts on June 21. We know what’s what and the summer fun really begins with the final May Bank Holiday, a time when we all silently agree to kiss goodbye to our sleeves and ditch our coats at the first whisper of sunshine. 

We’ve been spoiled with bank holidays this month, but consider these three days off work your chance to reacquaint yourself with summer in the city. Finally, the sun is out, it’s warm enough to sit outside for longer than five minutes so whether it’s hanging out in some of the capital’s best beer gardens, cooling off with some outdoor swimming, dining out in a fabulous alfresco restaurant, exploring London’s lush green spaces or browsing one of the city’s bustling markets

Check out our guide to the best events and things to do across London for the Bank Holiday weekend falling betweeen Saturday April 27 to Monday May 29 2023. 

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

15 awesome May bank holiday events in London

Go on a botanical spree
  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • London

Can’t afford those pricy Flower Show tickets? Get your green fix at ‘The Chelsea Fringe’ festival, which puts on eight days of weird, wonderful and wholesome spin-off botanical events in SW3 and beyond. Largely volunteer-run and free, you’ll find an eclectic programme of horticultural happenings running over the final May Bank Holiday weekend, including a floral art workshop and an urban flora trail.

  • Kids
  • Regent’s Park

Head to where the wild things are this half term, as London Zoo puts on a family-friendly extravaganza so little ones can find out more about the landmark’s conservation and animal welfare efforts. Younger kids can join sensory wellness sessions and interactive games in the music tent or craft their own colourful butterfly in the art zone, while older ones can learn bush craft skills and listen to animal talks. 

  • Sport and fitness
  • Royal Docks

If you’re at the stage of open-water swimming where you now have a wetsuit in your wardrobe, you might be ready to register with the National Open Water Coaching Association, which provides safety bands and access to swim at specific locations. One of those locations is the London Royal Docks, a scenic spot that has set courses for casual swimmers. Whatever you do, do not forget that wetsuit, temperatures at the Docks can be less than 10°C, even in summer. London Royal Docks. Session days vary. £8 per swim + £12 annual membership fee. Find out how to register here

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Tower Bridge

‘Guys and Dolls’ is a musical with a towering reputation and Nicolas Hytner’s Bridge production is a staggering achievement, a more or less flawless take that’s turned into something transcendent. This version of Frank Loesser’s 1950 classic uses a stunningly choreographed and an immaculately structured comedy bursting with deathless one-liners and wonderful characters. The whole thing ends in a big dance party – a moment of pure joy in a non-stop night of them. Perfect bank holiday theatre. 

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Kensington

‘Crown to Couture’ is an immersive journey through the dresses and clothes of the Georgian era and an exploration of how these 200-year-old garments have inspired iconic red-carpet looks today. Everyone from Charles II to Lizzo and Lady Gaga are featured through the 200 objects on show. The opulent rooms at Kensington Palace have been transformed into a catwalk by Alexander McQueen’s production designer Joseph Bennett, so you can expect something royally special.

  • Music
  • Music festivals
  • Tulse Hill

Cross the Tracks is taking over Brockwell Park on the Sunday of May's final Bank Holiday weekend with its tasteful, groove-heavy curation across soul, funk and jazz, as well as lashings of street food. Go along to see hip hop star Kelis, plus Alfa Mist, Giles Peterson, Roy Ayers and Ravyn Lenae, and plenty of talks, panels and workshops for you to consider attending, before plumping to chill out on the grass with a craft beer instead.


Sink some holes at Puttshack crazy golf
  • Bars and pubs
  • Sports bars
  • Bank

Bank holidays were made for activities you can do with a drink in hand. Enter Puttshack, a high-tech mini-golf course where the scores are totted up digitally, so no cheating, you hear! It's virtually impossible and you’ll be well supplied from the on-site bar. The gagetry extends to the obstacles too, which include beer pong holes, hazards and give you extra points for technique. Feeling hungry after all that balling? Grab yourself some food from the restaurant. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Things to do
  • South Kensington

Patagotitan mayorum is a titanosaur whose giant thigh-bone was discovered poking out of the ground by an Argentinian rancher in 2010. Paleontologists spent a decade reconstructing patagotitan’s 37-metre skeleton out of the bones of six related beasts found nearby. The result has now been cast in stunning detail and shipped to London. Walk through the life and times of Patagotitan with the aid of artful and artily designed interactive animations. Kids can slap buttons and choose tactics to help the hatchlings escape fire, lightning, hunger, and various predators on the journey to adulthood and walk beneath the dino skeleton, which is so vast its tail pokes out of the gallery. 

  • Bars and pubs

From swanky skyscrapers to casual warehouse hangouts and hidden pub terraces, London has a real crush on a rooftop bar. To enjoy a heatwave high, we are blessed with all kinds of rooftops which offer a winning combination of wicked city views and perfect drinks. So take your pick from stylish Shoreditch, buzzing Soho and Covent Garden, trendy Peckham and more – it’s time to soak up those sunsets, with rooftop bar season now upon us.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Museums
  • Natural history
  • West Brompton

Staged in the Daikin Centre, a building that’s popped up over the rubble of the old Earls Court Exhibition Centre, this immersive experience is based around the BBC’s 2019 David Attenborough magnum opus documentary series ‘Seven Worlds, One Planet’. Although it’s not so much a documentary as an immersion in the raw power of some of the greatest wildlife footage in history. The footage is, naturally, stunning, and often almost overwhelming blown up to giant size: locust swarms the size of clouds, mushrooms that tower like skyscrapers, bears as big as buses. It’s an overwhelming spectacle that genuinely blows you away at points, and well worth checking out.

  • Things to do
  • South Bank

Prepare to feel very old. It’s been 50 years since David Bowie released the iconic 1973 album ‘Aladdin Sane’. To celebrate the cultural landmark, Southbank Centre is hosting a two-month-long exhibition exploring how it was created along with special gigs and events. See the album’s famous artwork by Brian Duffy and the cultural context in which it was created. 

  • Attractions
  • Farms
  • Surrey Quays

When it comes to baby animals to cuddle up to in spring, tiny lambs are obviously the GOAT. Surrey Docks Farm, a sweet little site right next to the Thames with its own blacksmithery, puts on lamb-feeding sessions almost every day during the season. You’ll have to book your slot a week in advance in case the little guys need a rest (they’re pretty tiny after all).

Not floating your boat? See what else is going on

Bank holiday in London
  • Things to do

If lying in bed with a box set was your initial bank holiday plan, scrap it – there’s too much going on to stay indoors.

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