Things To Do This Week In London: 2-8 May 2022

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All week

A man looks at an old diving helmet
It's your last chance to catch London Port City

THE GUILTY FEMINIST: Deborah Frances-White, comedian and presenter of The Guilty Feminist podcast, performs her new show. Over the course of an hour, she explores coming out and going in, getting in touch with her bisexuality and delving into psychedelics. Soho Theatre, from £13, book ahead, until 7 May

LAST CHANCE EXHIBITIONS: It's the final week for a few big exhibitions — why not see them before it's too late? They include London: Port City at Museum of London Docklands (free, booking required); Fabergé at V&A (£18, sold out but check for last-minute availability); and Van Gogh at Courtauld Gallery (£18, booking required). All until 8 May.

LONDON IN MAY: New month, new start, and if you're looking to sink your claws firmly into May, take a look at our guide to the best events in London this month. We've picked more than 60 events from hot new exhibitions to cultural festivals — have a browse and get planning.

GREASE THE MUSICAL: Grease is the word, as Sandy, Danny and co return to the West End stage. Grease the Musical opens this week, with Peter Andre and Jason Donovan featuring in certain performances. An excellent way to spend those Summer Nights. Dominion Theatre, from £18, book ahead, from 3 May

PECKHAM FRINGE: 27 shows take place across five weeks for this year's Peckham Fringe, beginning this Monday with Anybody of Water, an exploration of love and queerness. Also this week, catch the story of a Black transgender immigrant, and a show about rugby and mental health. Theatre Peckham, various prices, book ahead, 2 May-5 June

Bank holiday Monday 2 May

A row of canal boats, with bunting hanging above them.
The Canalway Cavalcade comes to Little Venice. Image: Shutterstock

BANK HOLIDAY: Make the most of your bank holiday Monday with our guide to bank holiday events in London — we've covered culture, sports, food, drink, family events, and ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

CANALWAY CAVALCADE: Today's the final day of this year's Canalway Cavalcade, a vibrant festival which sees dozens of canal boats moor up in Little Venice, with live music, children's activities and boat-based fun. Little Venice, free, just turn up, 30 April-2 May

AGATHA CHRISTIE: Join a walking tour along the back streets between Notting Hill Gate and King's Road, following in the footsteps of Agatha Christie. Learn about some of the places the murder mystery writer lived and worked as you pass them, and hear plenty of other facts about the area from tour guide Jane Parker. Notting Hill Gate, £20/£15, book ahead, 11am

BANK HOLIDAY CABARET: The Royal Vauxhall Tavern sees out the bank holiday in style with a special cabaret show. Enjoy a drink or two as 'Haggis Queen' Mary Mac and Miss Penny host an evening of laughs and songs. Royal Vauxhall Tavern, £10, book ahead, 4pm-11.30pm

MEZCAL MASTERCLASS: Sample mezcals distilled by The Lost Explorer, learn secrets of the agave-based spirit, and craft two cocktails with it — the Los Mochis Tommy’s Mezcalita and the Mezcal Pink Hot Paloma. Los Mochis (Notting Hill Gate), £40, book ahead, 6.30pm-7.30pm

THE PLAYLIST: Dance the night away to tunes from the 1970s-90s — whether you're old enough to remember them from the first time round or not. Soulful anthems is the theme of tonight's The Playlist, so expect to hear tunes from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker, Kirk Franklin and Luther Vandross. Colours Hoxton, £13, book ahead, 7pm

BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA: Singer, pianist and songwriter Joe Stilgoe teams up with the BBC Concert Orchestra for a show celebrating the magic of theatre. We're promised a 'carnival of theatrical experiences' — sounds like it'll get plenty of toes tapping. Barbican, £30-£75, book ahead, 8pm

Tuesday 3 May

Dietrich: Live at Wilton's

DIETRICH: German-American actress and singer Marlene Dietrich is celebrated in cabaret show Dietrich: Live At Wilton's. Drag artist Peter Groom assumes the role of Dietrich, performing some of her greatest hits including Lili Marlene, Lola, and Falling in Love Again. Wilton's Music Hall (Limehouse), £10-£25, book ahead, 3-5 May

THE LAST WORD: Spoken word festival The Last Word kicks off with the heats of this year's Poetry Slam.  Over three nights here in London, watch emerging spoken word artists aged 18-25 battle it out to be crowned the winner, earning them a cash prize and the Slam Champion title. The Roundhouse (Camden), £5, book ahead, 3-6 May

PHYSICS EXPERIMENTS: Hear from physicist Suzie Sheehy about physics experiments which changed the world. Through stories and demonstrations, she covers the likes of the cathode ray tube used in ye olde TVs and the race to split open the atomic nucleus. Royal Institution (Mayfair) or online, £16/£10/£7, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm

THE DIP: A comedic mish-mash of characters, clowny stand up, improv and musical comedy unfolds at MAP Studio Cafe tonight. On the bill for The Dip are Estonian-born clown Julia Masli, top notch improvers Snack Time and TV's deadpan Mark Silcox. MAP Studio Cafe (Kentish Town), £7.70, book ahead, 7pm

WITCHES: The infamous 'Bideford witch trial' led to the hanging of three women — rumoured to be the last group murdered as 'witches' in England. Historian and author of The Last Witches of England: A Tragedy of Sorcery and Superstition, John Callow delves into the details of what is a remarkable story. The Miller (London Bridge), £5/£2, book ahead, 7.45pm

Wednesday 4 May

Find out how we can avert the insect apocalypse

LUNCHTIME CONCERT: Inject a bit of culture into your lunchtime at a free concert inside the Great Hall at Queen's House. It takes place monthly, with musicians from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance performing — this time it's the Trinity Laban Harp Department. Queen's House (Greenwich), free, just turn up, 1pm-2pm

INSECT APOCALYPSE: Many species of insects are fast disappearing from our world. Find out why this is, what impact it'll have, and what can be done to prevent it at this free Gresham College lecture by Professor David Goulson. Barnard's Inn Hall (Holborn) or online, free, book ahead, 6pm

BOOK GROUP: Black satire How To Kill Your Family is the subject of the Book Group at Waterstones in Orpington. If you'd like to to discuss Bella Mackie's gleeful homicidal anti-hero Grace, this is the place to do it! Waterstones (Orpington), free, register in advance, 6pm-7pm

CURATOR TOUR: Join Elio Sea, co-curator of the current Decriminalised Futures exhibition, for a tour with some wider context to the background behind the show. Decriminalised Futures is about the fight for the decriminalisation of sex work across the globe. The ICA, £5, book ahead, 6pm

LIVE COMEDY: Britain's Got Talent finalist Nabil Abdulrashid tries out some of his latest comedy material in this hour-long, work-in-progress show. It's part of Battersea Arts Centre's Pay What You Can Scheme, which aims to make culture accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial situation. Battersea Arts Centre, pay what you can — suggested donation £10, book ahead, 8pm

Thursday 5 May

archival lgbtq photos on a white wall
Queer Britain Museum opens today

LGBTQ+ MUSEUM: London's first LGBTQ+ museum throws its doors open in King's Cross, launching with an exhibition called 'Welcome to Queer Britain'. Queer Britain (Granary Square), free (donations welcome), from 5 May

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. Barbican, £18, book ahead, 5 May-29 August

ALBORADA FILMS: Documentary company Alborada Films comes to London for screenings of two of its films, followed by Q&As with the directors. No Extradition is the story of Julian Assange's father John Shipton's attempts to prevent his son being extradited, while On The Ground covers the protest against the felling of trees in Highbury Corner. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), pay what you can (suggested donation £10), book ahead, from 5.30pm

CLIMATE CHANGE: Can climate change be funny? Stand-up comedian and environmental economist Matt Winning gives a comedy lecture on the topic, aiming to enlighten the public on the topic while answering FAQs around climate change. Royal Institution (Mayfair), £16/£10/£7, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm

FOOD CRISIS: The British Library's Food Season continues with a look at solutions for food systems in crisis. A panel of experts, including activists and influential thinkers, discusses how we can transform public health and save the planet by adapting food production methods. British Library, £13, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm

Friday 6 May

Watch (or take part in) an open mic night

BREW LDN: Beer festival Brew LDN is back 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. Printworks (Rotherhithe), £24, book ahead, 6-7 May

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

TINY MOVING PARTS: Screamo/math rock band Tiny Moving Parts are in town tonight, playing songs from their catchy back catalogue, including 2019 album, Breathe. The Garage (Highbury & Islington), £18.50, book ahead, 6pm-10pm

OPEN MIC NIGHT: Musicians, singers and poets are all welcome up on stage at Gunnersbury Park Museum's open mic night, which is suitable for anyone with a disability to take part. Sign up for your slot in advance, or go along to support the performers. Gunnersbury Park Museum, £5, book ahead, 7pm-9pm

THE CANDLELIGHT CLUB: Prohibition-era themed party The Candlelight Club returns with all its usual trimmings; live music from the 1920s-30s; cabaret host Champagne Charlie; vinyl records; and plenty of cocktails flowing. Secret central London location, from £25, book ahead, 7pm-midnight (repeated tomorrow)

Saturday 7 May

The book-lined Cinnamon Club starts hosting Saturday jazz brunches from today.

JAZZ BRUNCH: Today's the day curry geniuses Cinnamon Club launch their new jazz brunches, serving up the likes of Rajasthani style curried venison mince, and tandoori portobello and king oyster mushrooms, alongside smooth, rhythmic jazz. Cinnamon Club (Westminster), £45pp, book ahead

MY FAIR LADY: The Lincoln Center Theater's production of My Fair Lady transfers to London for a summer run, inviting you to relive the story of cockney flower seller Eliza Doolittle and linguistics professor Henry Higgins, live on stage. London Coliseum, from £20, book ahead, 7 May-27 August

TEQUILA AND MEZCAL FESTIVAL: La Piñata tequila and mezcal festival is 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 too. Tobacco Dock, from £20, book ahead, 11am-8pm

CRAFTY FOX MARKET: Shop direct from independent artists and makers at the latest Crafty Fox Market. Browse stalls selling ceramics, jewellery, homewares, accessories, art prints, cards and gifts — plus it takes place in a food market, so there's plenty of food and drink to keep you going. Mercato Metropolitano (Elephant & Castle), free entry, just turn up, 11am-5pm

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. Trafalgar Square, free, just turn up, 12pm-6pm

CABARET VS CANCER: Comedy, drag, circus and dance acts all feature in Cabaret Vs Cancer, a lively show raising money for the charity of the same name. The performance is BSL-interpreted, and the line-up includes burlesque performers Missy Malone and Snatchdragon. Udderbelly Cavendish Square, from £18, book ahead, 7.30pm

Sunday 8 May

A group of people smiling at plants
Fulham Palace is hosting a Green Meet. Image: Marcus Dawes

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. Covent Garden, free, just turn up, 11am-5.30pm

VINTAGE FAIR: Stock up on retro togs at the Frock Me! Vintage Fair, which specialises in high-end vintage fashion, textiles and accessories. Over 60 traders are selling goods, and it's not unusual to see designer labels at this event, so well worth having a good rummage. Chelsea Old Town Hall, £5-£10, book ahead, 11am-5.30pm

GREEN MEET: Fulham Palace celebrate all things green and eco-friendly with its annual Green Meet. There's a green market, a picnic on the lawn, family yoga, children’s food waste workshop, garden tours and a seed swap. Sounds like a rather lovely day out. Fulham Palace, free, suggested £2 donation, book ahead, 11am-4pm

NO FRILLS FOLK: Wind down at the end of the weekend with some live folk music, courtesy of the No Frills Folk Club. They like to do things traditionally, gathering around the pub table with their instruments and playing all styles of folk, from Irish to Yiddish to Scandi. And, if you're half decent on an instrument, why not join in. Brixton Windmill, free, just turn up, 7pm

CURIOUS COMEDY: Robyn Perkins hosts Comedy For The Curious, a comedy chat show which features two guest comics watching three stand-up sets all centred around a particular topic — this month, it's a deep dive into the subject of the truth. Online event, £1-£5, book ahead, 8.30pm

Urban oddity of the week

A giant mural of a Camberwell Beauty butterfly on the side of a building.
Image Matt Brown

Gresham College warns us this week of the insect apocalypse (see Wednesday). London has its own emblematic insect in the shape of the Camberwell beauty butterfly — and it has a strong link to a fictional human apocalypse...

The Camberwell beauty was discovered in Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell in 1748, when the area was open fields in a way it most definitely isn't today. It became the emblem of Samuel Jones, a local paper merchant, who had a giant mural installed on his factory in Camberwell. When the factory was demolished in the 1970s, the butterfly was saved, and reinstalled on the side of a building in Burgess Park (see photo).

Curiously, the butterfly was also at the heart of the most recent episode of Fear the Walking Dead. "Mourning Cloak", as the episode was called, is the North American name for the Camberwell Beauty (which migrates across the Atlantic each year). The somewhat shaky plot involved a youth tasked with capturing the butterfly... during a zombie/nuclear apocalypse. So maybe those Gresham College warnings have deeper links than suspected.

Good cause of the week

A red air ambulance sits on the pad. A sunset is seen in the background, turning the clouds a moody blue

You probably knew that London has its own air ambulance, which flies out paramedics to accidents and emergencies across the capital. They perform life-saving surgery on the streets of London. You might not know, though, that the ambulance is funded entirely by charitable donations.

You can help fund this vital service — based out of the Royal London in Whitechapel. They're always looking for donations, but you can also get involved by organising a charitable event. For the bravest, how about attempting the helipad abseil, from 17 floors up?