62 Brilliant Things To Do In London In May 2022

62 Brilliant Things To Do In London In May 2022
A row of canal boats, with bunting hanging above them.
The Canalway Cavalcade comes to Little Venice. Image: Shutterstock

BANK HOLIDAYS: Monday 2 May is a bank holiday, so you'll be needing our guide to spending a bank holiday weekend in London. If you're wondering what's happened to the late May bank holiday, it takes place on Thursday 2 June this year, joining forces with the extra bank holiday on Friday 3 June, to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee — so only one bank holiday in May, but a double dose in June.

CANALWAY CAVALCADE: If you go down to the canal over the May Day bank holiday, you're in for a big surprise. Dozens of canal boats moor up in Little Venice for the Canalway Cavalcade, a vibrant festival with live music, children's activities and boat-based fun. 30 April-2 May

BLACKHORSE BEER MILE: The Blackhorse Beer Mile is a new walkable route visiting six different craft breweries, all close to Walthamstow's Blackhorse Road station. The launch event, on the Sunday of the bank holiday weekend, features exclusive brews, live music, brewery tours and more. Cheers! 1 May

A crowd of people running down The Mall, with Buckingham Palace behind them and 'VItality Mile' banners overhead
Fancy tackling the Vitality Westminster Mile?

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. 1 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. 2 May

GREASE THE MUSICAL: Grease is the word, as Sandy, Danny and co return to the West End stage. Grease the Musical opens at the Dominion Theatre, with Peter Andre and Jason Donovan featuring in certain performances. An excellent way to spend those Summer Nights. From 3 May

People in the sunshine walking past a purple Udderbelly marquee
Underbelly is back in Earl's Court

THE LAST WORD: Spoken word festival The Last Word takes over The Roundhouse in Camden for poetry events, theatre, live podcasts and more. It kicks off with the heats of this year's Poetry Slam. From 3 May

LGBTQ+ MUSEUM: London's first LGBTQ+ museum throws its doors open in King's Cross, launching with an exhibition called 'Welcome to Queer Britain'. From 5 May

UNDERBELLY EARL'S COURT: Underbelly's Cavendish Square venue reopened in April, and that's followed by the reopening of the Earl's Court venue on 5 May. The upturned purple cow theatre is back with circus, musical and family shows, plus a selection of bars and outdoor street food stalls open to the public, even if you've not got tickets for a show. 5 May-16 July

Tom Felton dressed as Guy Fawkes in a black hat and brown cape
Tom Felton leads the digital cast of The Gunpowder Plot

OUR TIME ON EARTH: The Curve at Barbican opens new immersive exhibition Our Time On Earth, looking at how humans fit into the wider ecosystem, and what can be done to tackle climate change. 5 May-29 August

GUNPOWDER PLOT: A new immersive experience opens, based on the infamous Gunpowder Plot, in which Guy Fawkes and co attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. This one takes over the Tower Vaults for an educational look at the events of 1605, with you in the role as co-conspirator — you'll have to work out who you can trust and who's a traitor. Tom Felton plays the role of (digital) Guy Fawkes. Launching May 2022 -date tbc.

LAUREN BAKER: Best known for her neon artworks, artist Lauren Baker has a solo exhibition at 99 Projects, in Kensal Rise. The pieces in Ten Days of Silence were produced during a silent retreat in Mexico, and take the form of love letters. 6-29 May

People ordering drinks at a bar made of wooden pallets, with the logos of different breweries on the wall behind
BrewLDN is back

BREW LDN: Beer festival Brew LDN is back, taking over Printworks in Rotherhithe for two days of craft beer, cider, food and music. Sample drinks from a range of breweries — including Electric Bear, Kirkstall, Vocation and Yonder — and get the lowdown directly from the people who make it. 6-7 May

TEQUILA AND MEZCAL FESTIVAL: It's a boozy weekend in London as La Piñata tequila and mezcal festival is also in town. It's a celebration of spirits made from the agave plant, as well as Mexican culture, with cocktail masterclasses and street food stands taking over Tobacco Dock. 7 May

EID IN THE SQUARE: The Muslim festival of Eid-al-Fitr is celebrated in Trafalgar Square to mark the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting. Muslim art, music, culture, literature, history and fashion are all celebrated, alongside food stalls selling dishes from around the Islamic world. 7 May

Crowds of people around Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square, all looking towards a temporary stage
Celebrate Eid in Trafalgar Square

MY FAIR LADY: The Lincoln Center Theater's production of My Fair Lady transfers to London for a summer run at the London Coliseum, inviting you to relive the story of cockney flower seller Eliza Doolittle and linguistics professor Henry Higgins, live on stage. 7 May-27 August

PUPPET FESTIVAL: One of those unique London events we love, the Covent Garden May Fayre & Puppet Festival is back. It celebrates the first recorded production of a Mr Punch show, seen by Samuel Pepys in Covent Garden in 1662, and draws puppeteers from all over the country for a procession, church service, shows, stalls and workshops. 8 May

LONDON CRAFT WEEK: Cricket bat making? Tick. Leather work? Of course. 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 feature in the programme, showcasing the handiwork of London's makers. 9-15 May

Children sitting on the ground looking up at three different Punch & Judy-style puppet show booths
Head to Covent Garden for the Puppet Festival

PHOTO LONDON: International fair Photo London is back at Somerset House for a celebration of all things snap happy. As well as a chance to collect and purchase photos from around the world, there are talks, tours and workshops on all aspects of photography. 11-15 May

LONDON'S FORGOTTEN DISASTERS: Londonist editor-at-large Matt Brown gives a talk about London's forgotten disasters, including a lightning strike and a 1980 fire that's largely been forgotten. Hear strange, obscure and tragic stories from the city's past, all of which deserve to be remembered. 12 May

FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE: After being closed for more than two years, the Florence Nightingale Museum in Waterloo reopens to the public, continuing its curtailed exhibition, Nightingale in 200 Objects, People & Places. From 12 May

A Florence Nightingale Barbie doll is part of the rebooted exhibition

WIMBLEDON ART FAIR: More than 150 artists and makers exhibit at Wimbledon Art Fair, giving you a chance to purchase artworks directly from the people who created them. There's also a rare opportunity to go inside artists' studios. 12-15 May

FUTURE CITIES: Visual arts and poetry collide in Future Cities, an exhibition which explores what cities will look like in... well, the future. It consists of four contemporary artworks, accompanied by responses by poets Selina Nwulu, Astra Papachristodoulou, James Wilkes and Aea Varfis-van Warmelo. 12 May-18 September

KENSINGTON DOLLSHOUSE FESTIVAL: Experience life in miniature at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival. 120 top miniaturists from around the world exhibit and sell their works for anyone looking to kit out their own dolls house, plus there are displays, kids' activities and more. 13-14 May

Crowds of people sitting in the grass in the sunshine watching a clown performing
The Dulwich Park Fair is part of the full-to-brimming Dulwich Festival

DULWICH FESTIVAL: Theatre, music, talks, dancing, fairs, exhibitions and more form part of the full-to-brimming Dulwich Festival programme, which celebrates the history and culture of the local area. Highlights include the artists' open house weekend, and Dulwich Park Fair. 13-22 May

OPEN AIR THEATRE: The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre kicks off its season with a production of Legally Blonde, a musical version of the 2001 film. Watch the show at the open-air auditorium, located in the middle of Regent's Park. Read our guide to outdoor culture for more al fresco fun this summer. From 13 May

ASMR: Design Museum examines the world of ASMR — Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, a physical sensation of euphoria or deep calm, triggered through sound, touch, and movement — in a new exhibition. Hope it features rain on canvas... From 13 May

A full-up bleachers-style outdoor theatre seating area
The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre season begins

150TH FA CUP: The first FA Cup Final was held in 1872, making this year the 150th anniversary. Though that first event was held at Kennington Oval, rather than the current venue of Wembley, we expect there to be a bit of a fuss made about the anniversary. Oh, and if you miss out on tickets for the men's final on the Saturday, the Women's FA Cup Final takes place at Wembley the following day, and this is a big year for women's football. And if football's your thing, check out the Design Museum's ongoing exhibition about the Beautiful Game. 14 May

CHEAM CHARTER FAIR: Rumour has it that the Cheam Charter Fair dates back to 1259 — though even the modern-day organisers can't verify that. Either way, head to the London-Surrey border for a traditional fair of stalls, kicked off with a procession at 9am, with Cheam Charter Week events happening in the run-up to the big day. 14 May

EUROVISION: If you're partial to sequins, disco balls and cheese by the truckload, put 14 May in your diary. That's the date of the Eurovision final this year — here's our guide to London parties and screenings. 14 May

Three people sitting at a table high in the sky, laughing, with The O2 dome behind and below them
You'll need a head for heights at London in the Sky.

KINGSTON BEER FESTIVAL: Kingston Workmen's Club — just a few minutes' walk from the station — hosts the Kingston Beer Festival. Sample some of 70 ales — many brewed locally — and 11 ciders and perries. The event supports charity Prostate Cancer UK. 19-21 May

LONDON IN THE SKY: You'll want to hold on tight to your cutlery at London In The Sky, a dining experience which takes place 100ft up, close to The O2. Choose from breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, cocktails or dinner, get strapped into your chair around the floating table, and soak up the views as you tuck in. 19 May-29 August

TELEVISION FESTIVAL: The BFI & Radio Times Television Festival always brings together a brilliant selection of actors, writers, producers and various other figures from the TV industry, who are working on the best current and recent TV shows. Hear from the teams behind It's A Sin, Toast of London/Tinseltown, Call The Midwife and others - and attend preview screenings of upcoming shows such as The Outlaws and Malory Towers. 20-22 May

GOLD!: Sit back down, Spandau Ballet fans — this one's about the precious metal. The British Library's new exhibition displays 50 manuscripts from around the world in which gold has been used, delving into the effects this had on the stories contained in the manuscripts. 20 May-2 October

The white facade of Marble Hill House, against a bright blue sky
Marble Hill House reopens. Photo: English Heritage

HEATH ROBINSON HUMOUR: The Heath Robinson Museum marks the 150th anniversary of illustrator William Heath Robinson with an exhibition of his most humorous cartoons, dating from 1905-1943, and including his wartime work. 21 May-4 September

WHEN FLOWERS DREAM: Artist Tanya Schultz (a.k.a. Pip & Pop) has a new exhibition of colourful works at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art in Kew Gardens. Focus is on food, with artworks made from candy and sugar, including a bespoke installation made for Kew. 21 May-March 2023

MARBLE HILL REOPENING: Twickenham's Marble Hill House reopens after a lengthy revival and restoration project. The English Heritage property is a Palladian villa offering an insight into Georgian life, set in 66 acres of grounds with an 18th century grotto. Even better, the house and grounds are free to visit. From 21 May

A group of nine walkers wearing purple charity t-shirts in front of Tower Bridge. They are looking at the camera, smiling and cheering.
Join the Bridges of Britain walk

CHELSEA FRINGE: Tying in with the Chelsea Flower Show (see below), the Chelsea Fringe is a gardening festival run by local people, for local people. Events this year include a free exhibition of garden-themed artwork, guided walks, art events and a dog show. 21-29 May

BRIDGES OF BRITAIN WALK: Sign up to walk seven miles across 10 London bridges in aid of charity Lymphoma Action. Join the route in person and walk from Vauxhall Bridge to Tower Bridge, or sign up to walk a similar distance remotely, in your own local area. 22 May

THE GLASS MENAGERIE: Amy Adams makes her West End debut in this production of Tennessee Williams' memory play, The Glass Menagerie. She plays Amanda Wingfield, with the play focusing on the effect her husband's abandonment has on her, and her relationship with her children. From 23 May

CHELSEA IN BLOOM: West London gets a floral glow-up as free flower festival Chelsea in Bloom returns. The theme this year is 'British icons', to coincide with the Queen's jubilee, so expect to see plenty of Union Flag-themed large-scale floral installations at shops, restaurants and other businesses around Chelsea. 23-28 May

A woman holds a toddler, looking at an arch of multicoloured flowers with a model of an elephant in the centre
A previous installation at Belgravia in Bloom

BELGRAVIA IN BLOOM: While Chelsea gets all regal, neighbouring Belgravia adopts a similar 'Beautifully British' theme for its own flower festival, Belgravia in Bloom. Again, expect to see plenty of large-scale installations, including flower arches and sculptures, as you wander around. 23-29 May

CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW: A calendar highlight for any green-fingered Londoner, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes over the grounds 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; and a chance to pick up tips from gardening experts. 24-28 May

CANCER EXHIBITION: Get an insight into how cancer is detected, prevented and treated, at Science Museum's new Cancer Revolution exhibition. It features objects and personal accounts, and aims to dispel myths about the disease, as well as highlighting the progress that's been made towards tackling it. From 25 May

SPRING FAIR: Chelsea's definitely the place to be towards the end of the month — The Chelsea Barracks Spring  Fair is a new event taking place on the former site of a British Army barracks. Expect food and drink stalls, floral installations, talks, workshops, and a market showcasing goods from independent makers. 25-27 May

Someone dressed as Spiderman crouches on the ground, while a woman in Spiderman costume (without a mask) poses behind
MCM Comic Con will get your spidey sense tingling

BEATING THE BOUNDS: We love London's many unusual traditions and customs, including Beating the Bounds, an ancient ritual still observed at the church of All Hallows by the Tower. Watch as members of the Clergy and Livery Companies visit each parish boundary to pray for protection and blessings — including boarding a boat to reach a boundary marker in the middle of the Thames. 26 May

MCM COMIC CON: Dust off your cape — MCM Comic Con is back at ExCel London. Highlights include a replica of the Stranger Things set (just as season four launches); a chance to have a photo with Storm Troopers; become a Jedi Knight with the Silver Sabres combat academy; or try your hand at Quidditch. Plus there are the usual guest stars, author talks, costume competitions and more. 27-29 May

RIDE LONDON: There's been a bit of a change to this year's RideLondon — instead of veering into the Surrey countryside, the 100-mile bike ride is routed through Essex, beginning at Victoria Embankment and heading out to Braintree, before retuning to the finish line at Tower Bridge. Sign up to take part, or line the route on the day to cheer the riders on. Either way, be aware of road closures across the capital and beyond. 27-29 May

The Rosé Festival comes to Fulham Palace

ROSÉ FESTIVAL: Celebrate all things pink at the Rosé Festival, which brings together rosé wine producers for a weekend of food and drink in the grounds of Fulham Palace. Stay well watered at the Rosé Spritz bar, and enjoy live music, and food and wine pairings. 27-29 May

ABBA VOYAGE: Mamma Mia, look who's back! Avatars of ABBA members Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid take to the stage for Abba Voyage, a series of concerts at a purpose-built venue in Stratford, combining the Swedish group's iconic tunes with newer releases. From 27 May

DIPPY RETURNS: One of London's most famous museum exhibitions, Dippy the (replica) diplodocus returns to the Natural History Museum after its national tour, starring in a special exhibition. However, it's only here until December, so be quick if you want to welcome it back. From 27 May

A large group of people listening to a woman in a white science coat standing on a small plinth. The Thames and landmarks including St Paul's can be seen behind her.
Soapbox Science is back on the South Bank. Image: ZSL

SOAPBOX SCIENCE: Gabriel's Wharf transforms into a hub of scientific learning and discussion, as some of London's leading scientists take to their soapboxes to showcase their knowledge to the general public. The focus of this year's Soapbox Science is on game-changing women and non-binary people. 28 May

MAY HALF TERM: The final week of May, running into June, is May half term, when the kids are off school. Keep an eye out for our May half term events guide, for plenty of ways to keep them entertained. 28 May-5 June

ALAN PARTRIDGE LIVE: AHA! Everyone's favourite fictional broadcaster is going on tour. Stratagem is the new Alan Partridge live show, which finishes up at The O2 at the end of the month. 31 May-3 June

OPERA HOLLAND PARK: Another of our favourite outdoor cultural events in London, Opera Holland Park's summer season gets under way. First on the programme is Eugene Onegin, a piece by Konstantin Shilovsky and Pyotr Tchaikovsky, based on Alexander Pushkin’s novel of the same name. The City of London Sinfonia and the Opera Holland Park Chorus perform. From 31 May

Steve Coogan posing as Alan Partridge, dressed in a red and blue stipey blazer.
AHA! Look who's in town.

WISTERIA HYSTERIA: The bulk of #WisteriaHysteria should be in bloom in London throughout May, with the gorgeous purple (other shades available too) flowers draped over walls, fences and pagodas — here's where to see London's wisteria at its finest.

SMELL THE ROSES: May is rose season too, and London has a fair few of the thorny flowers tucked away — these are our eight favourite rose gardens in London.

JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS: The Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations officially take place 2-5 June, but expect to see plenty of events starting the party early — for example, a Corgi Cafe opens for one day only on 29 May, and Zoobilee is at London Zoo throughout half term. Keep checking our Jubilee events guide for further info.

Purple wisteria in front of a white house with a pastel pink front door.
It's wisteria season in London. Image: Shutterstock

LAST CHANCE: A few things are closing this month too. It's your last chance to see:

  • LONDON: PORT CITY: Museum of London Docklands' free exhibition covers the ongoing impact the Port of London has on the capital, going back over 200 years through personal stories and pivotal moments. Until 8 May
  • FABERGÉ: The V&A's exhibition about master goldsmith Carl Fabergé drips in bling, exactly as you'd expect from the maker of the famous opulent eggs. There's a fascinating piece of London history included, about the opening of a Fabergé store in Bond Street back in 1903. Until 8 May
  • VAN GOGH: When the Courtauld Gallery reopened after a length refurbishment, it did so with an exhibition of self portraits by Van Gogh, including several from its own collection. Our art critic gave this show a 5* review. Until 8 May
  • LOUISE BOURGEOIS: The Woven Child is the first major retrospective of the work of Louise Bourgeois to focus on her work in fabric and textiles. Until 15 May

Last Updated 09 May 2022