Looking for things to do in London this May bank holiday weekend?
May has always been a good month here in London, gracing us with nicer weather and not one, but two long weekends. This year’s early May bank holiday is even more exciting, as it’s our first bank holiday weekend since step 2 of lockdown easing began. That means after certain restrictions have been lifted, we now have plenty more options for things to do that don’t involve binging crime dramas on Netflix on that extra day off. If you’re just as excited to get out there again as we are, you’ll love these 35 fun activities to fill your early May bank holiday weekend with (Featured image: Shutterstock, R.Classen):
1. Enjoy a cocktail in the sun at one of these 125 terrific summer terraces
Perhaps the biggest blessing April 12 brought was the return of outdoor dining and drinking. We’ve missed our favourite London restaurants and bars all winter, and eating takeout at home just wasn’t the same. And even if we can’t go back to admiring all of the beautiful restaurant interiors just yet, we’re now seeing countless gorgeous summer terraces pop up around town. Which one will you be heading to first?
2. Eat your way through Covent Garden’s street food fest and outdoor dining hub
Speaking of al fresco dining, we’ve got entire neighborhoods full of outdoor spots to explore this spring. You’ll barely recognise Covent Garden, for example, as the whole area is now covered in 800 seats, a verdant outdoor picnic and garden dining area, as well as pop-up restaurants and food trucks. You’ll know where to find us over the bank holiday weekend!
3. Treat yourself to a vegan brunch and bottomless prosecco in a stylish café
Vegans, listen up: At Linnaean in Nine Elms, you can enjoy a three-course vegan brunch with bottomless organic vegan prosecco, bloody marys, or gin coolers. The café, restaurant, spa, and apothecary isn’t only super cute, but also offers a predominantly plant-led organic menu with an artisanal approach. You can get tickets for the brunch on Friday, April 30, or Sunday, May 2, here.
4. Buy pretty bouquets at London’s newest open-air flower market
Yes, we’re all fond of our beloved Columbia Road Flower Market, but this May bank holiday weekend, we’re getting a new addition in the open-air flower market department for the first time in *150 years*. Well, technically the Chiswick Flower Market opened last year, but only with a handful of markets before the winter lockdowns came into effect. So, May 2 will finally see their grand reopening before the market is (hopefully) here to stay, and is expected to take place on the first Sunday of every month throughout the year.
5. Go on a cherry blossom hunt around London
We’re right at the height of cherry blossom season, as we’re sure you’ve noticed on your Instagram feed. The pretty pink trees are scattered all over London, but if you need some direction for the best blossom photo spot, you’ll be sure to find all the best places in our ultimate cherry blossom roundup.
6. Or gaze at some gorgeous bluebells instead
Early May also happens to be bluebell season, and you can find luscious carpets of them in and around London. But, remember not to pick any of the lilac beauties — they’re a protected species in the UK, and quite frankly, too pretty to destroy.
7. Enjoy an intimate guided river tour of London’s most romantic sights
Valentine’s Day might be long gone, but all of the cooped up couples weren’t really able to take advantage of the day during lockdown, were they? Who cares if it’s nearly May, you can still embark on a tour of the best places to kiss in London. If you want to plan something extra special though, this intimate guided river tour will take you along some of London’s most romantic sights while you bob into the sunset. Too unadventurous, you say? Well hold on tight, because after your romantic moment, the tour will turn into a thrilling speedboat ride, accompanied by a soundtrack of the latest hits. To calm your nerves, they’ll throw in a seasonal drink, we just hope you’ll be able to keep it down. Get your tickets here.
8. Munch your way through this truly giant Italian food hall
The arrival of the UK’s first Eataly outpost has had us waiting in anticipation for nearly three years, but the long-awaited day is finally in reach. Just in time for the long weekend, Eataly will open the doors to its massive food hall on Broadgate on April 29, and to say that we’re excited would be an even more massive understatement. Hold onto your hats: The world’s largest Italian food market will sport 42,000 square feet of delicacies, with over 5000 Italian and local food products and 2000 wines on offer. As far as weekend plans go, this one’s a clear winner.
9. Admire the panoramic views over London from this huge beer garden
The Terrace, a gigantic beer garden perched on Alexandra Palace’s south-facing terrace, should be at the *top* of your must-visit list this spring. It reopened on April 12 like many other outdoor dining spots, and if the Ally Pally hangout is nearly as popular this year as it was last summer, it’s bound to be very crowded, to say the least (especially on a bank holiday).
10. Venture out to West London’s biggest beer garden
Another top pick on the list of London’s best beer gardens is The Prince, a giant foodie hub that takes up almost an entire street. The flower-filled oasis comes from the team behind Lost in Brixton and Pergola Paddington – both of which have also reopened – so you know it’s well worth a visit.
11. Then, use this map to visit all of the other glorious beer gardens
If you’re struggling to find a spot with available space over the bank holiday weekend, don’t fret. There are plenty of brilliant beer gardens all around London, and this map is your ideal companion for when you’re planning a beer garden crawl.
12. Spend a sunny day out at this gorgeous garden centre
While many of us Londoners sadly don’t have large private gardens to fill, there’s still something satisfying about plant and flower shopping. Also, it’s just nice to be surrounded by lots of greenery, and to dream of one day owning ALL of the hydrangeas, orchids and small palm trees. Petersham Nurseries in Richmond has all of that, and then some. Part garden centre, part foodie haven, this place is every nature lover’s dream, and you’ll quickly notice the hours ticking by when you visit (especially once you’ve found their glasshouse filled with bespoke homeware…). End your trip with some tea and cake at their charming teahouse or a meal at the café.
13. Relax in one of these 111 lovely London parks and gardens
If you’re trying to dodge the beer garden and market crowds on the early May bank holiday weekend, a picnic in the park might be more your jam (although this terrible evidence suggests you won’t be alone in any open spaces anytime soon). Did you know that there are over 100 parks in and around London that you can visit? Check out this list for some inspiration if you’d like to discover the lesser-known green spaces near the capital.
14. Grab some coffee and tiramisu to go from this red telephone box
A picnic in the park is not complete without dessert, no matter the time of day. If you happen to be lounging around in Russell Square, you absolutely must try this tiramisu to go, served by Walkmisú from a red telephone box. Now that’s a brilliant way to transform an abandoned phone booth.
15. Discover these 24 dreamy mews while the sun is out
After a relaxed pit stop in the park, there’s nothing like a wander around town on a lovely day out. We’re always stunned by the number of new things to discover in London, even if you think you’ve seen it all. And not to mention the sheer beauty of our city, with all its nooks and crannies. A stroll through London’s dreamy mews simply never gets old, so we’d gladly spend our free day roaming these charming cobbled streets lined with gorgeous pastel houses.
16. Take a day trip to the beach
Now that the government has given the green light to beach day trips, we can’t wait to grab our flip flops and sunnies and remind ourselves what it feels like to stroll barefoot through the sand. And we don’t even have to travel far to make that happen, as there are plenty of beautiful beaches within two hours of London. Just remember not to stay overnight, and please be considerate of local residents by tidying up afterwards and disposing of your rubbish. Vamos a la playa, friends!
17. Or pretend you’re on vacation with this bottomless beach brunch
We get that you might be inclined to stay local instead of spending your day off traveling to the beach, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get (nearly) the same experience in central London. Besides, at Neverland’s Fulham Beach, you’ll also get limitless prosecco, beer, and passion fruit martinis, in addition to delicious starters and a brunch dish, to the tunes of London’s top DJs. The only thing that’ll be missing is the ocean. You can get your tickets for Monday, May 3, here.
18. Grab a few pints at London’s new beer mile
A new trail of breweries and taprooms has opened to form Walthamstow’s Blackhorse Beer Mile, and it sounds like the perfect way to spend a free afternoon, TBH. With plenty of outdoor seating in the neighborhood, beer lovers can sip their way through Blackhorse Lane and get pints at Truman’s Social Club, The Brewer’s Bar, Exale Brewery & Taproom, and Wild Card Brewery.
19. Admire this immersive outdoor rainbow art installation in Greenwich
Art enthusiasts, this one’s for you: Since most art galleries and museums will be shut until mid-May, some artists have taken to the streets of London to showcase their incredible work. Brought to us by British artist Liz West, “Hundreds And Thousands” is a beautiful kaleidoscopic walkway brightening up The Tide on Greenwich Peninsula. The striking, rainbow-themed glass is 700m in length, and aims to transmit a symbol of hope, which we all desperately need right now.
20. Join the brielliantly tasty London Cheese Crawl
You thought walking tours were mostly for tourists? Then you’ve clearly never participated in the big London Cheese Crawl, and it shows. The two and a half hour tour is exactly what it sounds like, taking you to all of the city’s most brielliant cheese spots, so you better come hungry. From Mayfair’s Fortnum and Mason, to “drunk cheeses” in Little Italy, and finally, fancy fromage in Covent Garden, it’s the ultimate tour for all cheese-obsessed foodies looking for a fun day out. Get your tickets for Saturday, May 1, here.
21. Visit this mesmerising floral outdoor terrace pop-up at The Savoy Hotel
The glamorous Savoy hotel has welcomed a new seasonal outdoor dining space called Solas to the historic Savoy Court. The breathtaking pop-up impresses with a floral chandelier, a raw seafood bar, and equally enticing cocktails. The elegant set-up is one of the summer’s must-visit dining destinations, but you better head there soon, as it will only be around until June 21.
22. Have fun at this rooftop playground for grown-ups
Returning in a blaze of colour, Roof East are back for another summer season, much to the excitement of everyone’s inner child. The sky-high, free-spirited playground for grown-ups offers crazy golf, batting cages, lawn bowls, and, of course, food and lots of booze (you know, for the adults). Until the lockdown eases further, guests will need to book a table or games in advance to get onto the rooftop, which is currently open from Thursday to Sunday.
23. Discover this new summery rooftop bar in London Bridge
With the number of rooftop bars already dominating London, new additions face quite a bit of competition. But they know what makes a rooftop hangout a smashing success, and that’s the combination of pretty ambiance, amazing drinks and food, and grand city views. London Bridge Rooftop offers all that and more, and can be found near London Bridge station, as the name suggests. The rooftop bar offers 360° views of the London skyline, sunset cocktails, top street food, and live music and DJs. FYI: Currently, they’re running “Aperol Sundays” from 12-4pm, which features £5 Aperol cocktails, so you might consider that fact when you plan your visit. You’re very welcome.
24. Or head up to one of these 30 ravishing rooftop bars
Rooftop bars have been all the rave for a long time now, but their comeback this spring was probably more anticipated than ever before. Until indoor hospitality returns in mid-May, outdoor drinking spots are the way to go. Luckily for us, London’s rooftop bar game is strong. There are so many fun spots, and far too little time to try them all. We’ve listed just 30 of our favourite one’s here, and they’re all excellent choices for a drink over the long weekend.
25. Gather round the firepit at this new beer and BBQ joint
Summers were made for beer and barbecues, and since British Summer Time is here, it’s not too early to gather round the firepit. Tucked away in a freight container yard between Holloway and Kings Cross, you’ll find Campfire, the excellent new open-air venue from Two Tribes Brewing. They’re ready to welcome you with mouthwatering food, beers on tap, and killer tunes.
26. Go out for the dreamiest, fairytale-like brunch at FEYA Café
Did someone order happiness pancakes? Wisteria waffles? A butterfly bowl? These all sound like dishes straight out of a Tinker Bell movie, but they’re actually real brunch items you can order at FEYA Café in Knightsbridge. Wait until you see what the food looks, and more importantly tastes, like. Dine in an enchanted forest in the heart of London, and indulge in a 3-course brunch from a colourful, creative, and healthy menu. Get your tickets for any day of the long weekend here.
27. Return to the Southbank Centre’s delicious riverside food market
It’s the news London foodies have all been waiting for, and the day is finally about to arrive: The Southbank Centre Food Market is back on April 30, with countless incredible food stalls packing cuisines from all over the world. There’s so much deliciousness, it’s impossible to decide, so we may just have to spend all weekend strolling along the riverside until we’ve ticked off all of the mouthwatering options on our bucket list.
28. Kick off the weekend with an online rum tasting event
Who said you need to go out to have fun on a Friday night? You certainly don’t, because you can have your very own rum tasting event from the comfort of your sofa. The Dead Man’s Fingers “Rum & Reggae” summer special comes with an award-winning tasting kit delivered to your door, and includes all the goods needed for a boozy evening for two. Also, assuming you’re not a rum expert yourself, you’ll be guided and taught by a virtual rum host alongside celebrity audience tasters. For those who don’t want the night to end, there’s a “Reggae Shack After Party” with live, virtual music. TGIF! Get your tasting kits and online event tickets for Friday, April 30, here.
29. Check out this impressive 11-metre outdoor video art installation
If you’re looking for a more mellow evening activity after spending the day restaurant and bar hopping, this stunning outdoor video art installation in Kingston should be on your agenda. Titled “Echolocation”, it stretches 11 metres along the Undercroft, an alleyway that runs between the River Thames and All Saints Church. Echolocation‘s aim is to demonstrate 1,000 years of local history in the area.
30. Shop and dine at this street food and culture hub
This popular spot for foodies and shoppers is packed with art installations, street food traders, pop-ups shops, and bars (including new Bacardi rum shacks!), so you know you’ll have a really good time, especially when the sun is out. Enjoy larger-than-life views of The Shard from Vinegar Yard’s giant outdoor garden while stuffing your face with burgers, nachos, Italian street food, and so much more.
31. Take a dip in one of these heated outdoor swimming pools
Outdoor pools are back, and these lovely London lidos are perfect for an invigorating dip or just a relaxing soak in the warm water. It might still be a bit cold out for a day at the unheated pool (although ice baths are a thing, right?), but until summer comes to full fruition, the city’s heated lidos are a nice alternative.
32. Bring your pup along to this doggy drive in movie night
After a year of quality time spent with our pets in lockdown, it’s hard to leave them behind now that nights out are a possibility again. Luckily, many places are dog-friendly and won’t mind you bringing your pup along, but some go the extra mile to make sure you’re both happy: To celebrate National Pet Month, this doggy drive in film club will pamper your dog with pupcorn, drinks, and special dog TV, followed by screenings of pet-themed (human) movies. Get your tickets for Sunday, May 2, here.
33. Take your tastebuds to this mighty south London street food market
Appropriately dubbed “The European Capital of Vibes”, Model Market is a street food paradise in Lewisham, open Thursdays through Saturdays. What can you expect from such a promising title, you ask? Besides tropical vibes thanks to palm trees and beach views, the market has rotating food traders (burgers, pizza, tacos, curry fried chicken), and its very own tequila bar. We’ll leave it at that.
34. Eat even more street food at these two brand new waterside markets
On the off-chance that you don’t particularly enjoy roaming the streets on the hunt for the best takeaway snack, we do sincerely apologise. Because here is yet another food-related activity suggestion for your weekend plans, and it’s also brand new. Those who do love a good al fresco feast are surely familiar with the street food savants KERB, who are blessing us with two new locations on the South Bank and in Wapping. KERB x National Theatre, open now and running through the summer, brings us a lineup of five food trucks, plus a bar. KERB’s second offering is equally tantalising, as they’ll set up at the base of rooftop bar Skylight, right on the quayside, opening on Saturday, May 1.
35. Visit these cute riverside dining domes at Somerset House
What goes perfectly with outdoor terraces, social distancing, and unpredictable London weather? That’s right, dining domes. The highly Instagrammable, private party pods popping up on rooftops and riverside terraces are so very popular that it’s almost an accomplishment to get a spot in one on short notice, but you never know. These cute riverside domes at Somerset House are only here until Monday, May 3, so even if you don’t get the chance to dine in one of them, at least you can marvel at them from the outside before they disappear again.
In other news, the UK tourist industry is calling for an extra bank holiday this year.
Also published on Medium.