44 Brilliant Things To Do In London In May 2019

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44 Brilliant Things To Do In London In May 2019
It's wisteria season in London. Image: Shutterstock

WISTERIA HYSTERIA: The bulk of #WisteriaHysteria should be in bloom in London throughout May, with the gorgeous purple (other colours available too) flowers draped over walls, fences and pagodas. We'll soon be releasing our guide to the best spots to see wisteria in the capital — in the mean time, get warmed up with these shots from last year. All month

ROOFTOP FILM CLUB: The London outdoor cinema season usually begins in early May, with Rooftop Film Club one of the first to launch. 2019 details haven't been released at time of writing, but keep an eye on the website for details of screenings on the roof of the Bussey Building in Peckham, Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, and Roof East in Stratford. Expect a mix of new releases and absolute classics. From early May

LUNA CINEMA: Outdoor cinema company Luna Cinema also begins its summer season in May. It travels all around the country, so doesn't actually arrive in the capital until 31 May, when The Greatest Showman is screened at Danson House in Bexleyheath. Screenings tend to sell out snappily — particularly the Jaws at Brockwell Lido event in June — so get booking. From mid-May

Rooftop Film Club reopens for business in May 2019

TAKE THAT: Or 'Ave That, as our elderly neighbour once referred to them. Whatever you're calling them, the former quintet are a trio these days; Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen perform the band's greatest hits to mark 20 years of Take That, with an eight-day residency at The O2. 2-10 May

FA CUP FINAL: The SSE Women's FA Cup Final kicks off in Wembley over the bank holiday weekend. At time of writing, the finalist teams have yet to be decided, but if during last year's World Cup you lamented the lack of coverage of women's football, here's your chance to support the sport. 4 May

BORING CONFERENCE: Celebrate the ordinary, the obvious and the overlooked at the Boring Conference 2019, which shines a spotlight on topics that appear to be mundane but are in fact fascinating. This year's line-up hasn't been announced at time of writing, but previous topics have included sneezing, barcodes and the Shipping Forecast. 4 May

The Canalway Cavalcade comes to Little Venice. Image: Shutterstock

BANK HOLIDAYS: Blessed be the month that grants us not one, but two, bank holiday weekends. You'll probably be needing our guide to things to do in London over the bank holiday weekend. We've got things to do outside of London covered too. 4-6 May and 25-27 May

CANALWAY CAVALCADE: Throughout the bank holiday weekend, the towpath alongside Regent's Canal in Little Venice comes alive with the Canalway Cavalcade, a family-friendly festival of stalls, live theatre and music performances... oh, and lots and lots of bunting. 4-6 May

SOAPBOX DERBY: It's all downhill from here at the Telegraph Hill Soap Box Derby. Head to the Brockley slope to watch teams racing their homemade carts to the bottom. All places to take part have sold out, but there's plenty to see, with the vehicles awarded points for creativity. 6 May

HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS: Some of the world's most skilled athletes and basketball players do their thing, in this show by exhibition basketball team The Harlem Globetrotters. They drop into Wembley for one day only as part of a world tour — expect plenty of incredible ball handling wizardry, rim-rattling dunks and trick shots. 6 May

LONDON CRAFT WEEK: Stick whittling? Tick. Leather work? Of course. Pheasant feather art? Absolutely. Find out about some of the more unusual things being made here in the capital at London Craft Week. Workshops, demonstrations, talks and workshop tours all feature in the programme, showcasing the work of London's makers. 8-12 May

Lucha Libre returns to Roundhouse

DULWICH FESTIVAL: Local history and architecture is celebrated at Dulwich Festival, which has a wealth of events taking place across nine days, including live music, guided walks, art workshops, talks, spring fairs and more. Our picks are the history talk about East Dulwich pubs, a Kinderstransport film screening, and the West Dulwich Spring Fair. 10-19 May

LUCHA LIBRE: The Greatest Show of Lucha Libra brings a line-up of Mexican masked superheroes to north London for an evening of wrestling-meets-acrobatics, with plenty of flamboyant costumes thrown in. If luchadores are your thing, you should probably know about this Mexican-themed rooftop bar too. 11 May

Celebrate Punch & Judy in Covent Garden

RU PAUL'S DRAG RACE: You've (probably) seen the TV series, now see the stars of Ru Paul's Drag Race in real life. Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Detox, Kim Chi, Mo nét X Change, Naomi Smalls, and Violet Chachki are just some of the faces appearing in Werq the World, in which the drag queens set out on a mission to save the galaxy. 11 May

PUPPET FAYRE: The Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival is an annual event, celebrating all things Punch & Judy on Mr Punch's birthday. It's free, family-friendly, and features plenty of puppet shows, food and drink stalls, a grand procession around Covent Garden, and a special service at St Paul's Church, aka the Actors' Church. 12 May

Image: Streatham Common Kite Day

KITE DAY: Let's go fly a kite in SW16. At the annual Streatham Common Kite Day, kiting experts perform displays with static kites, and everyone, including beginners, is welcome to have a go. Kites are available for sale on the day — or take your own along if you already have one. 12 May

LONDON WINE WEEK: Drinking wine and feeling fine is what we hope to be doing for most of this week, when the annual celebration of the humble grape returns to London. Sign up for free to get a London Wine Week digital pass, which entitles you to special offers at various participating venues, including mini wine tastings of three varieties for just £6, and unlimited access to the London Wine Week hub in Flat Iron Square. 13-19 May

MUSEUMS AT NIGHT: Cultural institutions across the country keep theirs doors open late for Museums at Night, giving the public a chance to see their collections in a whole new light. The full programme has yet to be announced at time of writing, but London events revealed so far include candlelit architecture tours of Benjamin Franklin House, and a quiz night at the Museum of the Order of St John.  15-18 May

OPEN AIR THEATRE: Did you know that there's an outdoor theatre in Regent's Park? The season begins in mid-May, with a production of Our Town by Thornton Wilder. Hansel and Gretel, Evita and A Midsummer Night's Dream are lined up for later in the summer. From 16 May

Image: Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

PHOTO LONDON: Interested in photography? Photo London is the place to be. The world-class event brings together photographers, curators, exhibitors and dealers to celebrate all aspects of the art form — and it's very much open to the public too, whether you enjoy taking photos yourself, or just want to admire other people's work. 16-19 May

DIVING WORLD SERIES: Once home to London 2012 competitions, the London Aquatics Centre is making a splash again by hosting the Diving World Series. In six sessions across three days, watch professional divers from all over the globe compete in both solo and synchronised competitions. 17-19 May

Museum of the Moon comes to Natural History Museum. Image: Carl Milner

MUSEUM OF THE MOON: Since 2016, Luke Jerram's moon has been travelling round the globe, and now the UK artist's installation arrives at the Natural History Museum, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The Museum of the Moon sees the six-metre moon illuminated with an accompanying soundscape, showing the detail of the surface as seen in NASA imagery. 17 May-8 September

EUROVISION: Let's ignore the fact that mingling with our fellow European countries is probably going to be hella awkward this year, and focus instead on the UK's Eurovision entry, Michael Rice. Keep an eye out — we'll be sharing our usual guide to the best places in London to watch the action live from Tel Aviv (the Water Poet's legendary party will be sorely missed). 18 May

FA CUP FINAL: The biggest date in the UK football calendar is the men's FA Cup Final, with the winners decided at Wembley Stadium. Last year Chelsea fended off Man U to take the trophy... who'll come out top this year? 18 May

NEW KEW PLAYGROUND: Great news for parents with young kids to entertain — Kew Gardens opens a new adventure playground. As you'd expect, The Children's Garden is on a plant theme, with tall trees, colourful flowers and rustling grasses to get lost in, plus waterlily stepping stones and wormhole slides. From 18 May

A Matisse-inspired bottle garden installation is part of the Chelsea Fringe

BIGGER THAN THE PLATE: Find out where your nosh comes from at V&A's exhibition Food: Bigger Than Your Plate. It follows the journey of various edible items from compost to table, looking at how they could be made more sustainable at every step of the process. From 18 May

CHELSEA FRINGE: While the Chelsea Flower Show (below) brings plant lovers to SW10, the Chelsea Fringe offers up a whole load of floral events elsewhere around the capital. Take part in a woodland walk in Wimbledon, a wander among the City of London's mulberry trees, and see an installation of Matisse-inspired bottles. 18-26 May

BASKETBALL PLAY-OFFS: Both the men's and women's basketball play-off finals take place at The O2, with the best British teams going up against each other. Alongside the sport, expect entertainment including dancing and mascots. 19 May

CHELSEA IN BLOOM: Under The Sea is theme for this year's Chelsea In Bloom, a free flower festival on the streets of Chelsea. Shops, bars and restaurants around the area erect floral window displays, arches and models, making it something of an Instagrammer's paradise. Here's a look at last year's festival, which had a 'summer of love' theme to coincide with the royal wedding.  20-25 May

BELGRAVIA IN BLOOM: While Chelsea has Chelsea in Bloom, nearby neighbourhood Belgravia has.... Belgravia In Bloom. It's a similar event, with floral window displays, arches and installations popping up around the area, but over here, the 2019 theme is 'the language of flowers'. Here's what 2018's Belgravia in Bloom looked like. 20-25 May

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is in bloom

CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW: Top gardeners, garden designers, flower companies and other green-fingered experts descend on west London for the biggest event in the horticultural calendar, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Get a glimpse of expert-designed gardens on themes including urban gardening and donkeys, and stock up on plants and accessories for your own green space. 21-25 May

MANGA: The biggest ever manga exhibition outside of Japan opens at the British Museum this month. Graphic art and storytelling collide in the art form. Find out why it has such global appeal, and learn about the history of manga in the exhibition. 23 May-26 August

FERIA DE LONDRES: Get a dose of Andalucian carnival spirit at Feria de Londres, an outdoor festival of Spanish food, drink, dance and music. Tuck into churros, Spanish wines and tapas, or take part in Flamenco workshops led by dance schools based here in London. 24-26 May

WE ARE FSTVL: London's not short of music festivals in the summer. Kicking things off early is We Are FSTVL, a three-day dance music extravaganza taking place in Upminster over the bank holiday weekend. 24-26 May

ALL POINTS EAST: The other big bank holiday weekend festival is All Points East. It actually takes place across two weekends in Victoria Park, with the likes of Hot Chip, Primal Scream, Courtney Barnett and Christine and the Queens on the line-up. 24 May-2 June

Celebrate all things Andalucian at Feria de Londres

LEONARDO DA VINCI: 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci, more than 200 of his drawings belonging to the Royal Collection go on display together. Seen as a group, they offer an insight into his thought and workings in the areas of sculpture, architecture, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany. Busy guy. 24 May-13 October

SECRET RIVERS: The secrets of London's historic waterways are revealed in a major new exhibition at Museum of London Docklands. Secret Rivers brings together art, photography and archaeology to tell the stories of the capital's rivers, streams and brooks, many of which have been lost over time. 24 May-27 October

TATTOO SHOW: 300 tattoo artists from all over the world descend on north London for the Great British Tattoo Show. Whether you're new to inking or already covered, there's plenty of inspo for your next tat — and you can even get it done then and there, before you change your mind. 25-26 May

MARIAH CAREY: Pop singer Mariah Carey performs at the Royal Albert Hall for three consecutive nights, following the release of her 15th album. Let's hope those powerful vocals don't raise the roof too much — it's not actually attached. 25-27 May

Tuck into all sorts of nosh at Foodies Festival

FOODIES FESTIVAL: You like food, right? Foodies Festival in Syon Park claims to be the UK's biggest food festival, so that's the place to head. Culinary experts from street food to restaurants, as well as drinks brands, are all represented, and celebrity chefs offer live cooking demonstrations. Plus there's live music for a real festival feel. 25-27 May

HALF TERM: As always, we'll be providing a trusty guide to family-friendly events, exhibitions, shows and activities taking place in London throughout the half term week. Watch this space... 25 May-2 June

VITALITY WESTMINSTER MILE AND LONDON 10K: In a weekend of fun for sporty types, the Vitality Westminster Mile takes place on Saturday, carving a route around Buckingham Palace, Westminster and Strand, passing several famous landmarks. But that's just a warm-up for the Vitality London 10K on Sunday. This race also starts and finishes in St James's Park, following a circular route out to the City of London. Even if you're not involved, be aware of road closures all weekend. 26-27 May

LONDON HISTORY DAY: Historic England is the driving force behind London History Day, when museums, galleries and other cultural institutions around the capital hold special events. Last year saw behind-the-scenes tours, rarely-seen exhibits going on display, and other treats. At time of writing, 2019 details have yet to be announced. 31 May

COLOUR PALACE: A Colour Palace is due to open in the grounds of Dulwich Picture Gallery at the end of the month, and remain here throughout the summer. The psychedelic structure is the work of Pricegore architects and designer Yinka Ilori, and showcases a fusion of West African and European influences. 31 May-22 September

The Colour Palace planned for Dulwich

Last Updated 08 July 2019