14 Charming Day Trips From London: May 2024

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Last Updated 19 April 2024

14 Charming Day Trips From London: May 2024

See our Beyond London section for further inspiration for trips out of London for a day, a weekend, or longer.

Two knights on horses in a jousting tournament
Image: Leeds Castle

ROYAL WINDSOR HORSE SHOW: Equestrian fans flock to Windsor in mid-May for the Royal Windsor Horse Show, five days of showjumping, dressage and pageants, all against the backdrop of the royal residence. New events are being introduced for the 2024 show, including an entertainment and art hubs with live music and painting exhibitions, as well as a children's area. 1-5 May (Berkshire)

MAIDSTONE COCKTAIL WEEK: Bottoms up in the county town of Kent, as Maidstone Cocktail Week offers up £5 cocktails at selected venues for anyone with a special wristband. American restaurant The Skull Bar, and Maidstone Distillery are among the venues taking part. 1-12 May (Kent)

RETURN TO AZKABAN: The Warner Bros Studio Tour marks 20 years since the release of the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film with a new experience, Return to Azkaban. It's a chance for fans to step inside the Divination classroom seen in the film, with original costumes worn by Harry, Ron, Hermione and Professor Trelawney on display. It's included in the WB Studio Tour ticket price. 1 May-4 September (Hertfordshire)

LEONARDSLEE LATES: The 260-acre Leonardslee estate stays open late on selected evenings, timed to coincide with when the rhododendrons and azaleas should be bloom. Stroll around the gardens at dusk enjoying live jazz and swing music, with food and drink available to buy. 3-26 May (West Sussex)

SWEEPS FESTIVAL: Catch the Rochester Sweeps Festival, a May Day celebration of folk music and dance in the Medway town. Expect to see Morris dancers from all over the world performing in the streets, along with live music in parks, pubs and other venues, as well as plenty of market stalls to browse. While you're heading to that part of the world, have a read of our guide to things to do in Rochester. FREE, 4-6 May (Kent)

BRIGHTON FESTIVAL: Multi-arts event Brighton Festival takes over the seaside city with theatre, dance, circus and music performances throughout May, as well as exhibitions and a one-off children's parade. The programme is extensive, so it could be tricky to narrow it down, but we like the look of film exhibition Days of Wonder, West African band Orchestra Baobab, and variety entertainment show Carnesky's Showwomxn Sideshow Spectacular. Take a look at our guide to Brighton for other things to see and do while you're there. 4-26 May (East Sussex)

Return to Azkaban, 20 years after the film was released. © ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

ELIZABETHAN MAY DAY: Step back in time at the Elizabethan May Day celebrations at Chiltern Open Air Museum. Dance around the May Tree, watch displays of fire power and swordsmanship, and take part in a military drill. It's a family-friendly event, and the rest of the museum is worth a look while you're there. 5-6 May (Buckinghamshire)

ALL ABOUT DOGS: Dog shows, arena displays, demonstrations by the Essex Police Dog Unit, breed meet-ups, expert advice and live music are all part of All About Dogs, a canine-centric event which is holding its biggest ever show at Hylands House this year. 5-6 May (Essex)

BLUEBELL WALK: Bates Green Farm in Arlington has a spectacular display of bluebells, with a 1.1km walking route open to the public in April and May. But there's an extra-special open day on 9 May, raising money for the Sussex Cancer Fund. Wander past the lilac carpet, then enjoy lunch or refreshments in the barn. 9 May (East Sussex)

TUNBRIDGE WELLS LITERARY FESTIVAL: Comedian Lenny Henry, explorer Michael Palin, chef Atul Kochhar and historian Tracy Borman are among the names on the impressive line-up at Tunbridge Wells Literary Festival. Why not make a day of it with our guide to things to do in the royal spa town. 11-14 May (Kent)

NATIONAL FLOWER SHOW: Flower power takes over the grounds of Hylands House for the National Flower Show, which has a Hollywood theme this year. The centrepiece is a floral pavilion where nurseries from all over compete for the Best In Show award, and elsewhere you can stock up on everything from gerberas to gazebos, attend gardening talks, and wander around floral art installations inside the house itself. 17-19 May (Essex)

WATERCRESS FESTIVAL: Watercress probably doesn't feature much in your day to day life, but it's big news in the bucolic town of Alresford. Thousands of visitors descend to celebrate watercress, which is grown in abundance locally — there's even a railway line dedicated to it. The Alresford Watercress Festival is a huge street blowout with stalls (thankfully) selling a lot more than just watercress, live cookery demonstrations and plenty more. A parade of dancers and performers also waltzes up the main street, handing out bunches of watercress to the crowds. 19 May (Hampshire)

FOOD FESTIVAL: The stunning Blenheim Palace is worth a visit any time of year — but even more so when the Blenheim Palace Food Festival is on. For all three days of the late May bank holiday weekend, wander among stalls manned by top chefs and producers selling street food to eat on site, as well as products and ingredients to take home and use when whipping up your own dishes. 25-27 May (Oxfordshire)

THE QUEEN'S JOUST: One of Kent's finest bastions, Leeds Castle holds a jousting tournament, included in the price of your admission ticket, over the bank holiday weekend. The Queen's Joust sees knights from England and France competing for the coveted Leeds Castle International Cup. 25-27 May (Kent)