Things To Do This Week In London: 13-19 May 2024

All week

Four skateboards mounted in a museum display.
Last chance to see Skateboard at Design Museum © Felix Speller for the Design Museum

LONDON CRAFT WEEK: Pendant lights? Tick. Rugs? Of course. Hats? Naturally. 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, taking place at venues all across town. 13-19 May

L'OLIMPIADE: Irish National Opera and The Royal Opera present a new production of Vivaldi's L'Olimpiade. The three-act opera is set in Ancient Greece at the time of the Olympic Games, with various characters taking part in a bid to impress loved ones. Takes place in the Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House. 13-25 May

VICTORIAN LONDON: Watercolours, prints and documents dug out from the London Metropolitan Archives are on show in Lost Victorian City: A London Disappeared, a free exhibition which shows us what London looked like in Victorian times. The 17th century Oxford Arms coaching inn, and the Crystal Palace settling into its Sydenham home are depicted in photos. FREE, 13 May-February 2025

PAWS ON THE WHARF: This is the final week of London's latest free sculpture trail, Paws on the Wharf, which sees individually designed sculptures of dogs dotted around Canary Wharf in aid of Guide Dogs. The free trail is in situ until this week, after which the artworks are auctioned off to fundraise for the charity. FREE, until 17 May

Performers on stage in a production of L'Olimpiade
Vivaldi's L'Olimpiade comes to the Royal Opera House. Photo: Ros Kananagh

HIGHWAYS FESTIVAL: Country and Americana artists are at the forefront of Highways Festival, taking place at the Royal Albert Hall. In addition to the performances on stage, there are other events around the venue, including an exhibition of Nashville photographs by Alan Messer. Until 18 May

DULWICH FESTIVAL: A celebration of art and culture in the local area, Dulwich Festival is in full flow. Highlights include a cooking workshop, theatre shows, the West Dulwich Spring Fair, an open day at Dulwich Picture Gallery, and loads more spanning talks, guided walks and family events. Until 19 May

SKATEBOARDS: This is the final week of Skateboard at Design Museum, an exhibition looking at the history of skateboards, from 1950s onwards, displaying 90 rare and unique skateboards along with 100 other objects relating to the sport. Until 19 May

A spread of food and cocktails
Do 'limitless lunch' seven days a week at selected Vivek Singh restaurants across London.

FREE FILM FESTIVAL: The Herne Hill Free Film Festival runs throughout the week, offering free-entry film screenings at various venues. Options include Oscar-winning documentary Summer of Soul at Edward Alleyn Club, and Peckham-based Rye Lane screened outdoors at Brockwell Lido. FREE, until 24 May

READ OF THE WEEK: Andrew Hunter Murray of No Such Thing As a Fish fame has just brought out a new book — A Beginner's Guide to Breaking and Entering*. The comedic crime caper is a brilliant send-up of the housing crisis, and features a disparate group of house breakers, who find themselves in a heck of a jam. The book features lots of tasty London property none of us would be able to afford.

EAT OF THE WEEK: Vivek Singh's Cinnamon Bazaar Covent Garden and the Cinnamon Kitchens in the City and Battersea are now offering a 'limitless' lunch every day of the week, where three courses of food (including the likes of lamb rogan shepherd's pie and kale & sweet potato kofta) come with bottomless drinks for 90 minutes, for £45 per person.

A taproom courtyard full of people
Get your tickets for Londonist's 20th birthday party next month

EXHIBITION OF THE WEEK: Things are about to get cheeky... The thicc, saucy figures of the late, great Beryl Cook rub shoulders with the homoerotic sailorboys, soliders and bikers of Tom of Finland — in a double header at Studio Voltaire in Clapham, launching this Wednesday. Equal parts sexy and comical, the output of these two artists make for a juicy pairing, and the free exhibition also features fanmail, preparatory sketches, source photography, and early publications and merchandise, illuminating their working processes. FREE, 15 May-25 August

DAY TRIP OF THE WEEK: Spring is the ideal time to visit Beth Chatto Gardens, a former wasteland transformed into a wonderful, picturesque garden in the Essex countryside. Find inspiration for other day trips and weekends away on our Beyond London page.

LONDONIST PARTY: Londonist turns 20 in 2024, and we're celebrating with a party at Five Points Taproom & Courtyard in Hackney on Wednesday 12 June. There's live music from William Poyer, plus DJ Brad Hall is spinning Music for Your Soul. You can also chow down on amazing BBQ food courtesy of From The Ashes BBQ, sup tank-fresh beers — and mingle with the Londonist team and other London lovers. Nab a ticket here! (Your first couple of drinks are included.)

*We featured this book because we know it's the kind of thing our readers will enjoy. By buying it via links in this article, Londonist may earn a commission from Bookshop.org — which also helps support independent bookshops.

Monday 13 May

People walking past a colourful Guide Dogs sculpture
This is the final week of Paws on the Wharf. Image: Matt Crossick/PA wire.

FOOD STORIES: As part of the British Library's Food Season, it brings together a panel of food writers: Caroline Eden, Miquita Oliver, Aji Akokomi, Madhur Jaffrey, Jeremy Lee, Sally Abe, Rosie Sykes, Rachel Roddy and Chetna Makan talk about what makes them cry, laugh, shout, and perhaps most importantly, hungry. Watch in person, or online. 7pm-8.45pm

OPEN MIC: The Three Compasses in Hackney launches a new monthly open mic night, with anyone welcome to sign up on the night to perform a song, poem, or spoken word piece. There are drinks offers on the night, with selected pints and house spirits and mixers only £4.90. FREE ENTRY, 7pm-9.30pm

SHERRY DINNER: Head to the Covent Garden Hotel for an evening celebrating all things sherry. Wine expert and podcast host Emily Harman hosts a four-course meal paired with sherries, moving from lighter, drier sherries through to sweeter styles. 7pm-10pm

HAPPY MONDAYS COMEDY: South-east London comedy club Happy Mondays is back at the Fox & Firkin in New Cross. Rory 'O Hanlon, Jack Scullion, Shruti Sharma, Madame Chandelier, Bilal Rashid and Angus Duncan take to the stage, hosted as always by Sion James. 8pm

MONDAYS IN LONDON: Looking for something else to do, today or any other week? Take a look at our guide to things to do in London on a Monday — we've gathered together live music venues, comedy and cabaret clubs which keep going on what is usually the quietest day of the week, along with guided walks and tours scheduled on a Monday, and a few special offers too.

Tuesday 14 May

A performer in red and black costume, singing
Song Queen: A Pidgin Opera opens at Wilton's Music Hall

PIDGIN OPERA: The world's first Pidgin English opera, Song Queen: A Pidgin Opera comes to Wilton's Music Hall in Limehouse. It blends African storytelling tradition with contemporary dance, incorporating Nigerian Pidgin English, Patois, Creole, Cockney, Hip Hop vernacular and multicultural London slang, all fused with Western classical music. 14-15 May

BAROQUE MUSIC: The London Festival of Baroque Music begins at St John's Smith Square today, showcasing performances by period musicians. There's a lunchtime recital of work by Bach, Vivaldi and Felix Mendelssohn by organist Roger Sayer, and an evening concert by The Gesauldo Six. Check the programme for what's on the rest of the week. 14-18 May

NINE DAY QUEEN: Theatre show The Nine Day Queen is the story of a 15 year old, who spends nine days sitting alongside her friend who was attacked and put into a coma. While there, she hallucinates the ghost of Lady Jane Grey, learning about the power of sisterhood in the face of adversity. Takes place at Barons Court Theatre. 14-19 May

CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW: Ahead of the Chelsea Flower Show next week, the Royal Horticultural Society offers a free 15-minute talk covering five facts about the world-famous gardening event, via a selection of historic and modern objects from its collections. FREE, 1.15pm-1.45pm

THE HALF BIRD: Author Susan Smillie is at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, talking about her narrative non-fiction book The Half Bird. It traces her solo journey across the sea from Lands End to Greece in her sailboat, Isean, recounting the things she learned about herself along the way. 6.30pm-7.30pm

Wednesday 15 May

Dave Hill
Dave Hill performs at Soho Theatre

DAVE HILL: New York-based cult comedian Dave Hill brings his show Caveman in a Spaceship to Soho Theatre. He combines stand-up, storytelling, music, and ill-advised feats of strength into an hour-long exploration of life, death, love, and various snack foods. 15-18 May

DICKENS' PETS: The Charles Dickens Museum in Bloomsbury explores the author's animal-loving side with new exhibition Faithful Companions. The house was a regular menagerie back when the author lived there, home to dogs, ravens, goldfinches, cats and other creatures, whose stories are told through letters, photo albums and illustrations. 15 May-12 January

RAF LECTURE: Historian Brandon Lewis gives a lunchtime lecture at the RAF Museum in Hendon, focusing on the RAF’s imperial role in the interwar period. Find out how the RAF secured its future as the third branch of the British military, alongside the Army and Navy. Watch in person at the museum, or online. FREE, 12pm

ABOLISH THE RICH: In an Ethical Matters talk at Conway Hall, journalists Grace Blakeley and Luke Hildyard challenge the concept of capitalism, questioning its fairness and impact on society. They examine the growing disparity between the super-rich and ordinary workers, and ask whether it's time to abolish the super-rich. 6.30pm-8pm

HISTORY QUIZ: Time once again for the London Historians Big Pub Quiz, an annual challenge featuring 50 questions on London history. The winners get to add their team name to the somewhat-coveted trophy. Written and hosted as ever by Londonist's Matt Brown, and at the Christopher Hatton pub in Holborn. 6.30pm

WINE AND WALK: Wander through London Wetland Centre in Barnes, sipping and sampling five different wines as you go on this evening's Wine and Walk. Two experts lead you through a curated selection of wines, each carefully paired to complement the natural surroundings. Age 18+. 6.30pm

JAWDANCE: Regular spoken word event Jawdance is back at Rich Mix. Author Yomi Sode hosts a line-up of performers including authors Salena Godden and Jeremiah Brown, followed by an open mic session where anyone can take to the stage to share their work. 7pm

Thursday 16 May

A performer on stage sitting on a large crocodile puppet
The Enormous Crocodile opens at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre on Friday. Photo: Manuel Harlan

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. 16-19 May

RARE BOOKS: Books, original manuscripts, letters and rare items are all for sale at the annual Firsts: London's Rare Book Fair. Taking place at Chelsea's Saatchi Gallery, this year it has a theme of 'The Art of the Book',with special focus on beautiful books, including pop-up books and Japanese woodblock printing. 16-19 May

GIN TOUR: The Museum of London Docklands offers a Gin Tour around the West End, telling the story of the 18th century Gin Craze and its impact on Londoners. Wander from the Dominion Theatre through the former slums of St Giles, Seven Dials, Bow Street and Drury Lane to a 16th century pub in Holborn, hearing about Hogarth’s Gin Lane, Covent Garden’s prostitutes and the 1814 Great Beer Flood as you go. 3pm

CURATOR TOUR: Get a closer look at the British Museum's new Michelangelo exhibition, as the curators offer a free online introduction. Sarah Vowles and Grant Lewis introduce and explore the context, themes and highlight objects of the exhibition, which follows the last 30 years of the artist's life. FREE, 5.30pm-6.30pm

BLOODIED VICTORIANS: The Old Operating Theatre near London Bridge stays open for a Bloodied Victorians Museum Late. Explore the museum after hours with a glass of wine or special themed cocktail, and experience a demonstration in the operating theatre, based on a real-life leg amputation that took place there in 1824. 6pm-8.30pm

CZECH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: Fairfield Halls' international concert series comes to a close with a performance by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Expect to hear works by Smetana, Bruch and Dvorak, as well as a solo performance by violinist Chloe Hanslip. 7.30pm

Friday 17 May

Two women sitting down watching a stage - one of them is holding a baby
Take your baby along to a comedy show.

ELECTRIC SUMMER: Shuffleboard bar Electric Shuffle Canary Wharf opens its summer terrace for what it's billing Electric Summer. Special cocktails — including a Spicy Watermelon Margarita and Rhubarb Bramble — will be served up on a floral terrace. There are also unlimited pizza brunches on Saturdays and Sunday. Until September

KENSINGTON DOLLSHOUSE FESTIVAL: Experience life in miniature at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival. 120 top miniaturists from 14 countries exhibit and sell their works for anyone looking to kit out their own dolls house, plus there are displays, kids' activities and more. This year also marks the centenary of Queen Mary's Dolls House. 17-18 May

ENORMOUS CROCODILE: Introduce younger members of the family to the joys of outdoor theatre. Roald Dahl's The Enormous Crocodile has been adapted for the stage in a show suitable for age 4+ at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. 17 May-8 June

BABY COMEDY: Parents and carers with babies aged under 12 months: take them along to Woolwich Works for Bring Your Own Baby Comedy, a comedy show for adults in a baby-friendly environment. Think soft flooring, baby changing facilities, and a relaxed environment for feeding and changing your baby whenever you need to. Sarah Iles and Michael Akadiri headline today's show. 12pm

DOCKLANDS: Find out how once-abandoned Docklands areas are now thriving, as places of work, life and play, as photographer Niki Gorick talks about her book Dock Life Renewed at Shoe Lane Library. FREE, 1-2pm

MUSIC QUIZ: Gather your most music-savvy mates and head to Between The Bridges on South Bank for the Sounds Familiar music quiz. Go head-to-head on rounds spanning indie, R&B, chart classics, mash-ups, and power ballads, totalling 100+ tunes from the 1960s to today. 6pm-11pm

FILM FRIDAYS: Watch a screening of Akram Khan’s Giselle, performed by the English National Ballet, at the cinema at Goodluck Hope, close to Canning Town. It's one of several events taking place as part of the Islander Festival in the local area. 7pm-9pm

SECRET STORYTELLING: Join Vanessa and George of storytelling collective London Dreamtime for Witches in the Woods, an evening of tales and music all about witches. Takes place in a secret woodland location in NW3, so dress warmly and bring a candle in a jar, and something to sit on. 7.45pm-9.45pm

Saturday 18 May

A view of the skyline at London City Island at dusk
The Islander Festival begins at Goodluck Hope on Friday

ELTON JOHN: Over 300 photo prints from the private collection of Sir Elton John and David Furnish go on display in the V&A's new exhibition. Fragile Beauty: Photographs from the Sir Elton John and David Furnish Collection features the work of scores of 20th and 21st century photographers selected from a 7,000 strong collection, including shots of The Beatles, Elizabeth Taylor and Chet Baker; the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s; AIDS activism of the 1980s; and 9/11. 18 May-5 January

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, kicking off with a procession. FREE ENTRY, from 9am

FRAGRANCE FAIR: Barnes is smelling extra good today, thanks to the return of the fragrance fair. Follow your nose to talks, walks and workshops from top fragrance experts and writers. 10am-5pm

DRAG BRUNCH: Devonshire Terrace near Liverpool Street hosts a lively drag brunch. TV star queens including Choriza May (RuPaul’s Drag Race UK) and Anna Phylactic (Netflix) appear, among lip sync showdowns, comedy, games, and a two-course brunch meal. 12pm-4pm

ROCK 'N' ROLL BONANZA: In the market for 12 hours of non-stop rock 'n' roll (followed if you so wish with an afterparty)? Get thee to the Fiddler's Elbow in Kentish Town, which is hosting the Camden Rocks All Dayer — an avalanche of live, loud music from the likes of Red Road, Dogz or Godz, Barking Poets, and many many more. 1pm-1am

FAIRYTALE SCIENCE: The science behind fairytales is tackled at the Royal Institution, where author Catherine Cawthorne discusses whether you could really dance in a pair of shoes made from glass, what happens to gingerbread houses in the pouring rain, and whether big ears are really better for hearing with. Aimed at children and their families. 2pm-3.15pm

SCARED TO DANCE: Evan Lewis and Tom McGreevy of rock band Ducks Ltd are the guest DJs at tonight's Scared to Dance, an alternative club night playing post-punk, indiepop, new wave and art rock music. Takes place at the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston. 11pm

Sunday 19 May

People walking beneath an Urban Village Fete banner
The Urban Village Fete takes place in North Greenwich. Photo: Kris Humphreys Photography

2014 PRICES: To mark its 10th birthday, Stratford's Roof East — a sky high playground/food hall — is doing food and drink at 2014 prices today only. That includes £6 burgers and pints of cider for £4.65 and Paloma cocktails for £6.50. It's also 50% off games. Let's hope the weather plays ball!

CHEESE MARKET: Did you know that London has a regular cheese market? Aptly, it's in Chiswick, an area which takes its name from an historic cheese farm or market. Cheesewick happens at Old Market Place on Chiswick High Road. Over 200 cheeses are available from a range of producers, along with bread, crackers, chutneys and the like. 9.30am-3pm

BRIDGES OF LONDON 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. 10am-4pm

TUDOR PULL: Head for the banks of the Thames to watch the Royal Waterman's Tudor Pull, a rowing event taking place between Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London. It's a ceremonial event, with the flotilla presented to the Tower's Governor in a short ceremony on arrival. FREE, from 10.30am

URBAN VILLAGE FETE: Live music and dancing, street food stalls, crafting workshops, and talks on topics including sports and sustainability are all part of the Urban Village Fete. It's a family-friendly event taking over Greenwich Peninsula. FREE entry (charge for some workshops), from 11am

BASKETBALL PLAY OFFS: See some of the country's best elite basketball teams go head to head in two games, as the British Basketball Play Off Finals bounce into the O2. 12.30pm

FOLK UNLIMITED: Emmie Ward and Nick Goode are at Cecil Sharp House in Camden, leading Folk Unlimited, a creative, inclusive, multi-sensory music-making session for disabled young people. 2.30pm-4.30pm