The Best Things To Do In London This Spring

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 16 months ago

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The Best Things To Do In London This Spring

Things to do in London in March, April and May 2020.

Cultural events in London in spring

The Chelsea Flower Show. Image: Shutterstock

VAULT FESTIVAL: Playing out in the labyrinthine arches beneath Waterloo station, Vault Festival rumbles on into March with an assortment of theatre, comedy, cabaret and tours. Take a look at the programme to find something you fancy. Until 22 March

WOMEN OF THE WORLD: Southbank Centre's annual Women of the World Festival is back, in time for International Women's Day. The extensive line-up looks at the state of gender equality across the globe today, with topics including politics, cancer and race, tackled. 6-8 March

LONDON BOOK AND SCREEN WEEK: The sixth annual London Book And Screen Week celebrates literature, TV shows, film and theatre through a variety of events. TV shows Doctor Who and Yes Minister, and author Lynda La Plante are forefront this year. 12-15 March

Underbelly Festival returns in April

ST PATRICK'S DAY: Around the middle of March each year, most Londoners tend to remember their tiny bit of distant Irish heritage, and embrace it by getting involved in the St Patrick's Day celebrations. The main event is the St Patrick's Day festival on 15 March, but look out for plenty of other Irish-themed parties, supper clubs, menus, bar crawls and events. 17 March

FOURTH PLINTH: It's time for a bit of a spring clean in Trafalgar Square, as the current Fourth Plinth artwork is replaced with a new one. Heather Phillipson's ominously-named The End consists of a big dollop of cream topped with a cherry, a fly and a drone, and it's unveiled in a ceremony in the square. 26 March

EARTH HOUR: For one hour on Saturday evening, London's switching the lights off for WWF's Earth Hour, raising awareness of the effects of global warming. Individual businesses and households are encouraged to take part by turning off the lights, but several of the capital's major landmarks will be plunged into darkness too. 28 March

Chelsea in Bloom returns

UNDERBELLY FESTIVAL: Theatre, cabaret, circus and spoken word performers pitch up on South Bank from all over the world to perform in Underbelly's famous tent. Watch a favourite act — or discover a new one — for a bargain price, at one of the highlights of London's summer. April-September

CHELSEA AND BELGRAVIA IN BLOOM: Two separate (free!) events running at the same time as the Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea In Bloom and Belgravia In Bloom bring colour to their respective postcodes. A series of stunning and dramatic flower installations are erected outside shops, restaurants and cafes in the area — Chelsea has an Exotic Voyages theme this year, while Belgravia has promised up glowing flowers courtesy of Bompas and Parr. 18-23 May

It's cherry blossom season

CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW: A highlight for any green-fingered Londoner, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes over the ground of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, with gardeners from all over the country showing off their work, stalls where you can buy flowers and plants to take home, a chance to pick up tips from gardening experts, and much more. 19-23 May

FLOWERS: For more even more flowers, take a look at our guides to where to see cherry blossom, wisteria and roses in London.

The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre season begins in May

OUTDOOR CINEMA: As soon as the sun comes out, London's cinemas go al fresco, pitching up on rooftops, at palaces and in lidos across the capital. We'll provide 2020 details as soon as they're announced — in the meantime, browse London's 2019 outdoor cinemas to get an idea of what to expect. Usually from early May

OPEN AIR THEATRE: For a more high-brow al fresco night out, head to London's open air theatre in Regent's Park. 101 Dalmatians, Romeo & Juliet, Carousel, and Dragons and Mythical Beasts have been confirmed for the 2020 schedule. From 16 May

Family events in London in spring

Find things to do in the Easter holidays

EASTER HOLIDAYS: With the kids off school for at least two weeks, you'll need ways to keep them busy. We'll update our guide to Easter holiday activities and events in London when 2020 events are announced, including exhibitions, theatre shows, nature trails and more, so you're bound to find something to suit them, whatever their age and whatever your budget. 4-19 April

BANK HOLIDAYS: With the Easter bank holidays, plus the double dose in May (remember that one's moved to a Friday this year), our guide to spending bank holidays in London should come in handy over the next couple of months. Just remember to check opening hours before you travel as some venues operate to different hours over bank holiday weekends.

Unique London events in spring

Forget boats — it's all about goats

GOAT RACE: If you're watching the Boat Race on the river, you're doing London wrong. The highlight of the weekend is actually the Goat Race, an annual event at Spitalfields City Farm. Two goats — one representing Oxford and the other Cambridge, race around the farmyard cobblestones while a crowd cheers them on. It always sells out in advance so book early. 29 March

THE PASSION OF CHRIST: As a gift to the people of London, the Wintershall Players perform a rendition of the Easter story for free every Good Friday. The event takes place in Trafalgar Square, and thousands of people turn up to watch every year, so turn up early to get a good view. 10 April

WIDOW'S BUN CEREMONY: One of London's oddest traditions take place on Good Friday every year. Head to The Widow's Son pub in Bow, to see the Widow's Bun Ceremony. A hot cross bun, with the year baked into to the top, is hung from the ceiling, to honour a widow who apparently used to continue baking them for her son, even years after he stopped returning home and was presumed dead. 10 April

Sport events in London in spring

The Vitality Westminster Mile takes place on The Mall

BOAT RACE: If you missed out on tickets for the Goat Race (above), you might as well watch the Boat Race. The women's race begins at 3.44pm, with the men's an hour later, and the four mile course runs between Putney and Mortlake, with crowds lining the river bank to get a good view. 29 March

LONDON MARATHON: One of the the capital's biggest annual events, the London Marathon sees thousands and thousands of runners from all over the world ploughing a path through our streets — and this year is its 40th anniversary. The atmosphere on race day is fantastic, so even if you don't know anyone who's running this year, it's still worth lining the route and showing your support. 26 April

Don't worry if you can't keep up with him. Photo: London Marathon

VITALITY WESTMINSTER MILE: A series of races for various age groups and categories takes place on a one-mile course along The Mall, finishing right outside Buckingham Palace. Find out how to enter the Vitality Westminster Mile — or turn up to cheer the runners on.  24 May

VITALITY LONDON 10,000: If a mile's not far enough for you, consider taking part in the Vitality London 10,000. The 10k course starts on The Mall and finishes back near Buckingham Palace, going out as far as Bank. Again, there are plenty of chances to cheer the entrants on, even if you're not much of a runner yourself.  25 May

Music events and festivals in London in spring

Going to We Are FSTVL? Hope you like confetti

For a complete look at music-centric gatherings in London across the year, you'll be wanting our London music festival guide. Below are our picks for March-May 2020.

TEENAGE CANCER TRUST: The annual series of gigs in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust returns to the Royal Albert Hall. 2020's performers are Stereophonics with Paul Weller, Groove Armada, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Nile Rodgers & Chic. 25-29 March

ALL POINTS EAST: Victoria Park is ground zero for London in terms of the city's park-based day festivals. All Points East continues the area's traditions with two weekends of supremely curated music. Five of the six(?!) days' line-ups have been announced at time of writing, and wow, do these acts whet the appetite. Tame Impala, Caribou, Kelly Lee Owens, Kraftwerk, Iggy Pop, Kim Gordon, Chromatics, Grandmaster Flash, Bombay Bicycle Club, Massive Attack, Neneh Cherry... aaaand we're out of breath. Victoria Park, £65+, book ahead, 22 May-31 May

All Points East returns to Victoria Park

WE ARE FSTVL: Common knowledge dictates that London's outdoor day festivals tend to be a tad cramped. It's all squeezed into a park, where tunes can't be played too loud, for fear of angering the neighbours. Dance music extravaganza We Are FSTVL aims to prove all of that wrong. How so? By taking place in the part of London lots of people don't consider to be London. Upminster. Two days of non-stop bangers and the punters won't care where they are (as long as there aren't disastrous queues this year). Upminster, £45-£145, book ahead, 23-24 May

GALA: South London's Gala turns five, and has gifted itself the best birthday prezzie possible: an extra day of partying! The lineup thus far is a killer's row of respected and quality DJs. However, it's not all about the tunes at Gala, as just as much focus is placed on the food. An excellent idea considering how many calories you'll burn off with all those shapes you're going to be cutting. Peckham Rye Park, £40-£88, book ahead, 23-24 May

New exhibitions in London this spring

AMONG THE TREES: Hayward Gallery's new exhibition, Among The Trees, celebrates our relationship with trees and forests. The work of over 30 artists is on display, including sculpture, painting, installation, video and photography, dating from the 1960s to the present day. 4 March-17 May

AUBREY BEARDSLEY: Tate Britain dedicates an exhibition to shocking and scandalous Victorian artist Aubrey Beardsley. It's the biggest Beardsley exhibition for over 50 years, with 200 of his risqué works on show. 4 March-25 May

NIGHTINGALE 200: 2020 marks 200 years since the birth of The Lady With The Lamp, and The Florence Nightingale Museum is celebrating with a special programme of events. Exhibition Nightingale in 200 Objects, People and Places opens on 8 March, showcasing little-known aspects of her life, as well as objects including the famous lamp which gave her the nickname. From 8 March

CECIL BEATON: The last major exhibition before the National Portrait Gallery's three-year refurb celebrates British photographer Cecil Beaton. Experience the extravagant world of the glamorous and stylish 'Bright Young Things' of the twenties and thirties through his lens — expect fantastic outfits, beautiful people and glamorous celebrities. 12 March-2 June

Tate Modern opens an Andy Warhol exhibition. Marilyn Diptych, 1962, Tate. © 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc / Artists Right Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

ANDY WARHOL: Tate Modern dedicates a massive new exhibition to pop art maestro Andy Warhol. Over 100 of the Pittsburgh-born artist's images are on display, including iconic prints of Marilyn Monroe, Debbie Harry, Elvis Presley and Coca-Cola bottles. 12 March-6 September

KRAFTWERK: Bleeps and bloops lovers are in for a thrill at a show dedicated to the electronic music genre. Kraftwerk and Chemical Brothers both play a huge role in the exhibition, but there's also a look at some of the instruments used to make the sounds. 1 April-26 July

HAVERING HOARD: The largest Bronze Age cache ever discovered in London consists of 453 bronze objects date from 800-900 BCE, which were buried in four separate pits in what we now call Rainham. Why remains a mystery. Intrigued? Museum of London's Havering Hoard exhibition is for you. From 3 April

It's all about the sneakers at Design Museum. Photo: Michaela Efford

TANTRA: Not one for the demure exhibition-goer, British Museum explores the radical nature of Tantra, from the philosophy's transformation of Hinduism and Buddhism in the sixth century, all the way through to its role in 1960s counterculture. 23 April-26 July

BAGS: INSIDE OUT: Margaret Thatcher's iconic handbag is among the items on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum's Bags: Inside Out exhibition. Our obsession with bags of all types comes under the microscope, from high-end handbags to useful totes. From 25 April

The British Museum launches an exhibition about the Arctic. © British Museum

SNEAKERS UNBOXED: Sneakers, trainers, whatever you call them, Design Museum is making a bit of a fuss about them this year. Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street looks at the design of the shoes, the culture surrounding them, and their future in a world of sustainable materials. 6 May-6 September

ARCTIC: The Brrrrr-itish Museum's latest blockbuster exhibition is all about the Arctic, focusing on the indigenous people of the region through the lens of climate change. Artworks and mammoth ivory jewellery are among the items on display. 28 May-23 August

A reminder that V&A's Museum of Childhood closes for two years in May, and time's also running out to visit the National Portrait Gallery before it closes.

Food and drink events in London in spring

Foodies Festival returns to Syon Park

COCKTAILS IN THE CITY: London's best bars pitch up in the tunnels under Waterloo station to compete to be crowned top dog. Sample cocktails from their expert mixologists, and visit secret speakeasies, infamous party haunts and botanical cocktail gardens — all without leaving the Cocktails in the City venue. 2-4 April

FOOD FESTIVAL: Apparently the UK's largest food festival, Foodies Festival takes at Syon Park for three days of food stalls, cookery demonstrations, culinary workshops, live music and other entertainment. Tuck into delicious nosh as you wander round, and stock up on produce to take home with you. 23-25 May

Last Updated 04 March 2020