61 Of The Best Things To Do In London In May 2018

There are tons of brilliant things to do in London in May 2018.

The spring’s in full swing – in fact, it’s nearly summer! There are two bank holidays to look forward to (on May 7 and May 28 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 events to check out, too.

1) Experience some outdoor movie magic with The Luna Cinema (all month)

Luna Cinema

The arrival of May heralds the start of the open air cinema season, and London’s biggest players The Luna Cinema have an incredible season of cinema under the stars lined up. This year, there’ll be screenings at many of the capitals most jaw-dropping sites, including Westminster Abbey, The Houses Of Parliament, Kensington Palace, Greenwich Park and Kenwood House, to name a few. Tickets are selling fast, so don’t miss out! Check out the full programme here. ?Sponsored.?

2) Grab a cocktail on Bar Elba’s rooftop (all month)

Rooftop bars
Photo: @bar_elba

As summer sashays back into our lives, raise a glass for Waterloo’s Bar Elba. Their colourful rooftop bar will be opening midday-midnight seven days a week from May 6 onwards, launching a refreshing new list of cocktails, and offering some new happy hours (all week, 4pm – 6pm; plus 12pm-1pm on Sat-Sun) for cost-conscious revellers. 109-117 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UL, opposite the station. More information on their website. Sponsored.?

3) Arcadia Festival, May 5-6

Two days of beats beneath a giant robot spider, this two-day music festival in the Olympic Park promises to be a one-of-a-kind event, with aerial performers, jets of fire and more spectacular shenanigans, while Leftfield and Rudimental DJ. Expect BIG things – get tickets here.

4) Shape of Light, from May 2

Shape of Light Tate Modern

A major new art exhibition at the Tate Modern ‘tells the intertwined stories of photography and abstract art’, from Man Ray to the modern day. It includes new work made especially for the exhibition. Tickets from £16, more information here.

5) Rodin and the art of ancient Greece, all month

British Museum Rodin Kiss

This major new exhibition at the British Museum pairs the iconic work of French sculptor Auguste Rodin with the ancient Greek pieces that inspired his work. Find out more on their website.

6) Boring Conference, May 5

Boring Conference London
Photo: @marjoda

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.

7) Kew’s new greenhouse, from May 5


After five years of work and £45 million of investment, Kew Gardens’ temperate greenhouse is set to re-open, more terrifically temperate than ever before. Check out 1,500 different plants in the completely renovated venue, before exploring the rest of the gardens, including their tropical Palm House and treetop walkway.

8) London Nights, from May 11

London At Night Museum

A major new photography exhibition at the Museum of London, ‘London at Night’ will feature over 200 works that capture the capital after dark, from archive shots to contemporary street photography. Night night. Tickets from £10 – details here.

9) Eurovision madness, May 12


It’s time for another instalment of the bizarre pop contest; and no doubt there’ll be fabulously camp viewing parties taking place across the city. One of the biggest is set to take place at Dalston’s Rio Cinema, where there’ll also be karaoke, ‘Euro cocktails’ and an after-party on until 3am. More information here.

10) Future Starts Here, from May 12

Future Starts Here V And A

Over at the V&A Museum, this forward-thinking exhibition looks at inventions and designs that promise to shape the future of humanity; from the domestic to the cosmic. Seafaring drones, wearable technology and genetic experiments all feature. Tickets £15; find out more here.

11) Have a tipple at London Wine Week, May 14-20

London Wine Week
Photo: Kelsey Chance

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 from us… and probably book the next day off work.

12) Explore London’s museums at night, May 16-19

Museums at Night
Photo: @mlle.noelle

This annual Museums at Night programme encourages museums across the country to put on special late-night events. The Chocolate Museum will be hosting cocoa-based games, the London Transport Museum will be celebrating the swinging Sixties, and there are candlelit tours of Benjamin Franklin’s house to join; more still to be announced. See the full list of events here.

13) Catch some outdoor theatre, from May 17

Open Air Theatre

As the weather gets warmer, London’s actors brave the elements in the city’s outdoor theatres. See Peter Pan at the Regents Park Outdoor Theatre from May 17, while As You Like It and Hamlet will be playing at Shakespeare’s Globe all month.

14) Celebrate a Royal wedding (May 19)

Prince Harry Meghan Engaged
Photo: Alexi Lubomirski for Kensington Palace

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are tying the knot on May 19. Our invite must’ve gone missing in the post, but you can bet your bottom dollar (or commemorative pound coin) there’ll be a slew of unofficial events tied, however tenuously, to the couple’s big day. This evening of romantic opera in London’s pretty Devonshire square, on May 20, sounds like a suitably classy option.

15) Have a massive punch-up, May 20

Virgin Sport Hackney Festival of Fitness 2018 Boxing 01

The Hackney half marathon might have sold out (find more London running events here) but there’s still an entire festival of fitness taking place on the Hackney Marshes. One highlight of the day will be an attempt to host the world’s biggest boxing class ever, and you’re invited to practice your jabs, hooks and upper cuts along with thousands of others.

16) Chelsea Flower Show, May 22-26

Chelsea Flower Show
Photo: @callumtoms

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.

17) All Points East Festival, May 25-27


Perhaps the greatest festival lineup of the summer, this newcomer to east London’s Victoria Park sees over 80 brilliant acts perform. See LCD Soundsystem, Lorde, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The XX, Björk and Beck take the main stage, alongside many more. There are also some fab gigs on in the park the following weekend. Full All Points East lineup here.

18) Gala Festival, May 27

Gala Festival 2018 Peckham
Photo: Sophie Harbinson for Here andNow

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 28

Jam On Rye Music Festival London

The day after Gala, a one-day celebration of sound system culture comes to Peckham Rye Park, with reggae on the stage and plenty of delicious street food from organisers KERB. Tickets from £25: more details on their website.

20) Learn what it takes to be an undercover cop at a Secret London talk

Undercover cop

Fascinated by crime? Neil Woods is a former undercover police officer and published author of “Good Cop, Bad War”, who spent 14 years undercover infiltrating UK drugs gangs. But along the way, he also saw first-hand how his work was increasing the violence in gangs, as they grew wise to police tactics. Come and hear him recount stories from his life undercover at LABS Camden on May 30. Tickets here.

21) Go flower spotting, all month in London

Flower guide

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.

22-26) Catch a marvellous new movie

Will Solo: A Star Wars Story actually be any good? Find out on May 25. Sci-fi comedy How To Talk To Girls At Parties (May 11) is set in the punk subculture of London’s suburbs in the ’70s, and looks plenty charming; the Deadpool sequel (May 15) brings more sweary superheroics to a multiplex near you; Amy Schumer’s latest comedy I Feel Pretty, already attracting controversy, gets a May 2 release, while Lean on Pete and On Chesil Beach both promise to deliver dramatic downers via ‘dying horse’ and ‘repressed sexual trauma’ respectively.

27-35) See a smashing gig

Florence and the Machine
Photo: Alessandro Bonvini

The O2 Academy Brixton hosts a trio of big names, with Plan B (3rd), Rita Ora (18th), and Ezra Furman (23rd) all paying a visit. Fans of classic rock can see the likes of Don McLean at London Palladium (9th), or the Rolling Stones at London Stadium (22nd). Rapper and burgeoning TV personality Big Narstie plays Cargo on May 5th, Johnny Marr rocks Islington Assembly Hall on the 16th, and Florence and the Machine arrive in Lambeth on May 8th. And finally, everyone’s favourite ‘love to hate’ band play the O2 Arena on May 11th: it can only be Nickelback.

36-47) Take your last chance at these exhibitions…

Sense of Space
Sense of Space exhibition. Photo: @reina_roo

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…

Somerset House: World Photography Awards (ends May 6)
Tate Britain: Impressionists in London (ends May 7)
National Gallery: Degas, Drawn in Colour (ends May 7)
Natural History Museum: Venom (ends May 13)
Exchange Square: Sense of Space (ends May 18)
National Portrait Gallery: Victorian Giants – The Birth of Art Photography (ends May 20)
National Gallery: Murillo – The Self Portraits (ends May 21)
National Portrait Gallery: Tacita Dean (ends May 27)
Barbican: Another Kind of Life (ends May 27)
National Gallery: Tacita Dean (ends May 28)
Natural History Museum: Wildlife Photographer of the Year (ends May 28)

48-55) Explore somewhere new

Petersham Covent Garden 3

Our campaign to find brilliant places to visit in L0ndon continues – here are just a few we found last month:

?Petersham Nurseries’ ritzy new Covent Garden restaurant, now open
?Dip ‘n’ Flip, the restaurant where everything is soaked in gravy
?Bob Bob Ricard, where every table has a ‘Push for Champagne’ button
?Brixton Windmill, which is, yes, a real windmill in Brixton
?Highgate Cemetery, an incredibly gothic spot for a wander around
?Moo Canoes, who will let you hire your own kayak for a canal-based adventure
? Tratra, the Shoreditch restaurant that offers bottomless cheese and charcuterie
?British Museum: our ultimate guide to exploring London’s most popular museum
?Paternoster Chop House, the restaurant from the First Dates TV show
☕️Algerian Coffee Stores, the Soho shop that sells £1 espressos

Also popular, and freshly updated for 2018: canalside bars, riverside pubs, rooftop bars, London’s best beer gardens and beaches near London.

55-61) Sod it, just stay in


Another month, more delicious new streamables to binge on a rainy day. New additions to Netflix this month include post-apocalyptic Scandi-noir The Rain, a sunny new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and, er, the last two series of Love Island. (See what else is new on Netflix UK this month.) In the prestige drama stakes, Westworld Season 2 returns to Sky Atlantic, while Handmaids Tale is now on… but only in America. Get it together Channel 4!

More things to do inspiration…

◀️ Things to do in London in April 2018
▶️ Things to do in London in June 2018

? 150 fab and FREE things to do in London
? 118 ideas for any Londoners’ bucket list
? Things to do in London at the weekend
? All our ideas for unusual places to visit in London

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Also published on Medium.


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