There are tons of brilliant things to do in London in May 2019.
The spring’s in full swing — in fact, it’s nearly summer! There are two bank holidays to look forward to (on May 6 and May 27 respectively), London’s festival season properly kicks off in parks across the capital, rooftop bars open for the summer, and there are plenty of other fascinating things to do, too.
1) Get high (up) at a rooftop bar, all month long
‘Tis the season that London’s summer rooftops start opening, kicking things off on May 1 with Queen of Hoxton’s new Mexican-themed terrace. Skylight is also back on May 2 for more lawn games and city views, while Roof East is open from April 17, with outdoor film screenings, Birdies golf and street food.
2) Get amongst the wisteria hysteria, all month long
Get into the swing of spring as bluebells, tulips, wisteria and cherry blossom do their seasonal thang all over London. Find out more with our guide to spotting flowers in London.
3) Have a tipple at London Wine Week
How about a cheeky glass of vino destructo? A week-long celebration of wine across the city, there’ll be a whole bunch of events taking place, and 125 of London’s best wine bars will be offering £5 taster flights of three different wines each. You’ll just need to grab a £10 wristband… and probably book the next day off work.
4) Have a glorified picnic beside the Thames, from May 3
The BBQ Club, brainchild of pop-up king Jimmy Garcia, have plans to build a giant deck along the South Bank. White picket fences will surround private picnic areas, complete with a lawn, parasol, deckchairs, and beanbags. They also come equipped with essential summer games: croquet, giant Jenga, and mini golf, so you can add a competitive aspect to your riverside sojourn. The BBQ Club can also provide hampers stuffed full of alfresco goodies, or you’re welcome to bring along your own. Read all about it here.
5) Boring Conference, May 5
This brilliantly British annual conference — now in its eighth year — curates lectures on the most boring topics on earth, delivered with comic gusto by the people who are inexplicably fascinated by them. ‘Behind every boring subject is another layer of boringness you could have never imagined,’ explain the organisers. Check out the podcast for a taste of what to expect; tickets from their website.
6) Catch some outdoor theatre, from May 16
As the weather gets warmer, London’s actors brave the elements in the city’s outdoor theatres. See Thornton Wilder’s Our Town at the Regents Park Outdoor Theatre from May 16, while Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors, Pericles, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry IV (parts one and two) and Henry Vwill be all playing at Shakespeare’s Globe throughout the month.
7) Head to Chelsea Flower Show, May 21-25
Stop and smell the flowers — and explore brilliant gardens designed by some of the world’s cleverest horticulturalists — at this blooming brilliant four-day floral festival.
8) Learn all about Japanese manga at this huge exhibition, from May 23
The British Museum will host the largest ever manga exhibition outside of Japan. The influential art — from anime to ‘cosplay’ — will be brought to life at this immersive event, and you’ll learn all about its history and global appeal.
9) All Points East Festival, May 24 until June 2
Perhaps the greatest festival lineup of the summer, All Points East is onto another winner. See The Strokes, The Chemical Brothers, Bon Iver, Christine and the Queens, Bring Me The Horizon and Mumford & Sons take the main stage, alongside so much more. Find the full All Points East lineup here.
18) Gala Festival, May 26
Peckham Rye Park plays host to a fab one-dayer dedicated to ‘disco, house and good-time party music’ — you can’t say fairer than that can you, really? Details here.
19) Jam On Rye, May 27
The day after Gala, a one-day celebration of sound system culture comes to Peckham Rye Park; with RnB and reggae on the stage and plenty of delicious street food from organisers, KERB. Oh and I don’t want to alarm anyone, but Kelis is the headliner this year! Final sale tickets cost £30 and they’re almost sold out. Purchase them here.
20) Travel back in time in this awesome War of the Worlds-inspired immersive experience, from May 16
dotdotdot, creators of multi-sensory adventure Somnai, are launching a brand new experience based on Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. There’ll be immersive theatre, virtual reality, augmented reality, holograms and other cutting-edge technology; giving audiences the chance to live through the Martian invasion of 1898. Read all about it here.
21) Get pampered at this two-day style and wellbeing festival, May 10–11
The first ever Stella Live is taking place next month, promising two jam-packed days of fashion and wellbeing. Taking place at the Saatchi Gallery, Stella Live promises a celebration of fashion, food, beauty and interiors, relationships, wellbeing and life advice. Learn about everything from fitness tips and tricks to living with anxiety, conquering the workplace and shaping your personal style. Read all about it and get tickets here.
22-25) Catch a new movie
May 3 sees the release of the curiously-awaited Ted Bundy biopic, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, featuring Zac Efron. Meanwhile, the bizarre live-action crime-fighting Pokémon movie Detective Pikachu, starring Ryan Reynolds, is released on May 10. (Watch the trailer here.) Also released on May 10 is High Life; an abstract sci-fi film about sex experiments in space starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche and Andre 3000… obviously. Oh and also! We’re getting Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin on May 24.
26-34) See a smashing gig
May is a big month for gigs. The O2 Arena is hosting some huge names, including Take That ft. Rick Astley (eight shows between May 2–10), Rita Ora (May 24) and Michael Bublé (30, 31, June 1). The Specials are putting on a big show at the O2 Brixton Academy on May 16–17. Sister Sledge (May 18) and Loyle Carner (May 7) will both take to the stage at Camden Roundhouse this month. Jess Glynne plays O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on May 22, while James Bay plays London Palladium on the same date. The Royal Albert Hall is welcoming Mariah Carey on May 25, 26 and 27, and finally, everyone’s favourite Carly Rae Jepsen plays XOYO (of all places) on May 29.
35-42) Take your last chance at these exhibitions…
They’re not new this month, but they’re all closing soon! So if these were on your to-visit list, now’s your chance…
‘Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory’ at the Tate Modern (until May 6)
Don McCullin at the Tate Britain (until May 6)
‘Diane Arbus: In The Beginning’ at the Hayward Gallery (until May 6)
‘Kader Attia: The Museum of Emotion’ at the Hayward Gallery (until May 6)
‘Only Human: Photographs by Martin Parr’ at the National Portrait Gallery (until May 27)
‘Harald Sohlberg: Painting Norway’ at the Dulwich Picture Gallery (until June 2)
The Renaissance Nude at the Royal Academy (until June 2)
Franz West at the Tate (until June 2)
43-47) Bag a seat at some of the best theatre in town
Make sure you catch Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic, which is showing from May 1. You should also try and squeeze in a trip to the Pleasance Theatre to see Don’t Look Away, running between May 7–18. Elsewhere, at the Park Theatre, there’s The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson, which runs from May 9. Meanwhile, The Starry Messenger is showing at Wyndham’s Theatre from May 16. And finally, the hilarious Beneath the Blue Rinse at the Park Theatre, running from May 21.
More things to do inspiration…
Also published on Medium.