Things To Do This Bank Holiday Weekend In London 27-29 May 2023

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All weekend

Things to do this weekend in London:  a group of women sitting on a picnic blanket on grass at Foodies Festival
Foodies Festival is at Syon Park all weekend.

BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND: May has absolutely spoiled us for bank holidays, and we've got our third and final serving this weekend. Take a look at our guide to spending the bank holiday weekend in London for ways to fill your time, from walking routes to top-notch pubs to guided tours and cultural days out.

HALF TERM: For most London schools, the May half term break starts this weekend. Stuck for things to do with the kids? In need of family days out in the capital? Our guide to May half term in London covers family-friendly events, exhibitions, theatre shows and more, with a helpful guide to the capital's best playgrounds, and plenty of free things to do too.

MCM COMIC CON: Dust off your cape — MCM Comic Con is back at ExCeL London. Highlights include guest stars, author talks, costume competitions and more. Guests include actors Julian Glover and David Bradley, and author Ben Aaronovitch. 26-28 May

MOTORING PAGEANT: Whitewebbs Museum hosts the Enfield Pageant of Motoring, taking place at the Enfield Playing Fields. It brings together classic cars and motorbikes, hot rods, modified cars and military vehicles, along with live music and DJs, a funfair, and food and drink stalls. Note that the museum itself isn't open. 27-28 May

ALADDIN SANE: David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust fans won't want to miss Aladdin Sane, an exhibition at Southbank Centre marking 50 years since the album was released — with an accompanying programme of events. Focus is largely on the iconic lightning bolt cover photograph, and this is your last week to see it. Until 28 May

Things to do this weekend in London: the iconic David Bowie lightning bolt image, focus of the Aladdin Sane exhibition at Southbank Centre
Last chance to see Aladdin Sane at Southbank Centre. Photo Duffy © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie ArchiveTM

PEAKY BLINDERS: Love TV show Peaky Blinders?  This is the final week of Peaky Blinders: The Rise, an immersive experience which takes you into the dark world of Tommy Shelby, where you meet the characters, explore the sets, and take part in challenges. Until 28 May

CHELSEA AND BELGRAVIA IN BLOOM: West London gets a floral glow-up as free flower festivals Chelsea in Bloom and Belgravia in Bloom return, to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show (which itself ends on Saturday). The theme this year is Flowers on Film for Chelsea in Bloom, and Into the Wild for Belgravia in Bloom, so expect to see large-scale floral installations at shops, restaurants and other businesses around these areas. Both FREE, Chelsea in Bloom is 22-28 May, and Belgravia in Bloom is 22-29 May

MIND BODY SPIRIT FESTIVAL: The Mind Body Spirit Wellbeing Festival returns to Olympia London for a celebration of inspiration, connections and healing. Enjoy curated workshops and experiences, hear from motivational speakers, musicians, artists and performers from across the globe, and shop some incredible brands at the wellbeing market. Use code LDNIST10 for 10% off tickets. 26-29 May (sponsor)

FOODIES FESTIVAL: Head to Syon Park for Foodies Festival, a three-day celebration of all things edible (and quaffable), with a side of live music. Fleur East, Scouting For Girls and Sophie Ellis-Bextor are among the performers, with live demos by celebrity chefs, street food and artisan markets, kids' cookery sessions, pop-up bars and more. 27-29 May

Things to do this weekend in London: a carousel of animals covered in flowers at a previous Belgravia in Bloom
Last chance to catch Belgravia in Bloom - and Chelsea in Bloom too.

NEON ARTWORKS: Head to Rich Mix in Shoreditch for a free exhibition of neon artworks by Chila Kumari Singh Burman. Her work has previously adorned the front of Tate Britain, and the interior of Covent Garden Market, and this time we're promised "bold, colourful installations combining Hindu mythology, British iconography, Bollywood glamour, colonial history and childhood memories". FREE, until 7 June

POLAR SILK ROAD: The Natural History Museum opens a new, free display, The Polar Silk Road, displaying the work of artist and photographer Gregor Sailer. View 67 photographs and a short film discussing the wide-ranging impacts of the climate crisis, including how melting ice across the Arctic is opening shorter sea routes in an area becoming widely known as the Polar Silk Road. FREE, from 26 May

TROUBLES: The Imperial War Museum opens a new exhibition, Northern Ireland: Living with the Troubles. It explores the conflict in Northern Ireland through the perspectives of multiple individuals affected, through photos, stories and objects — and the exhibition finishes with a look at the situation today and in the future. FREE, 26 May- January 2024

GO BEYOND LONDON: Fancy leaving the capital altogether for a day (or longer)? Browse our Beyond London section for Team Londonist's best recommendations for day trips and weekend breaks from London. Perhaps you're into castles, or the seaside, or fancy visiting a quaint tea room, or going on a frog hunt, or marching around the entire solar system, or... well, you get the picture. Have a browse. Got longer than a day to spare? We've put together guides to weekend breaks in the likes of York, Liverpool and Brighton, or, if you fancy travelling further afield, Milan, Cologne, and Corralejo.

Saturday 27 May

Things to do this weekend in London:  a group of people gathered around a scientist at Soapbox Science on South Bank
Soapbox Science returns to South Bank. Image (C) ZSL

CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW: A calendar highlight for any green-fingered Londoner, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has taken over the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea this week, 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. Today's the final day, when a lot of the plants from the displays get sold off — it's not uncommon to see people lugging rose bushes and the like on the tube as it approaches closing time. 8am-5.30pm

MUSLIM TECH FESTIVAL: Taking place at the Royal Institution, Muslim Tech Festival is a chance to meet a group of leading Muslim researchers, engineers, start-up founders, and AI specialists as they present their cutting-edge research, experiences, and challenges. Find out about careers an opportunities in the industry. 9.30am-5pm

SWISH ONLINE: UCL's wonderful Grant Museum of Zoology is currently closed for a bit of a spruce up, but it's still running online events in the mean time. Today it's Swish Online, a pre-recorded puppetry performance aimed at 3-7 year olds and their families, about life on a reef in the ocean. 10.30am-11.15am

FOOTBALL BOOK MARKET: Stanchion Books and South London Gallery Bookshop join forces for the London Football Book Market, a chance to browse and buy football-related books, magazines, fanzines, shirts, prints and other merch from independent publishers. 11am-6pm

AFRICAN CARIBBEAN FOOD: As part of British Library's Food Season, it hosts African Caribbean Food Ways Day, a celebration of food heritage and community. The programme of speakers includes chefs Maria Bradford and Denai Moore, restaurant founder Akwasi Brenya-Mensa, and author and journalist Jimi Famurewa. 12pm-6.30pm

ALLY PALLY 150: This month marks 150 years since Alexandra Palace was first opened to the public, to mark Queen Victoria's 54th birthday. They're throwing a big party to mark the anniversary with live music, palace tours, cinema screenings, a silent disco and more. 12pm-9pm

SOAPBOX SCIENCE: Leading female and non-binary scientists take to their soapboxes to discuss their areas of expertise; Soapbox Science pops up on South Bank, with sharks, DNA and brain tumours among the topics covered by representatives from ZSL, UCL, the University of Cambridge and other eminent institutions. FREE, 1pm-4pm

Things to do this weekend in London:  drag queen Panti Bliss with candy floss pink hair and a blue dress
Catch Panti Bliss at Soho Theatre

THIN VEIL OF LONDON: Minimum Labyrinth's The Thin Veil of London is a walk around the lesser-known corners of Holborn and Bloomsbury, inspired by 'folk horror' pioneer Arthur Machen. Hear about sinister ancient horrors which lurk just beneath the surface of modern life on this theatrical history tour. 2.30pm/6pm

SPITTING IMAGE THE MUSICAL: Fans of satirical puppet show Spitting Image are in for a treat, as Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image The Musical comes to the Peacock Theatre. Over 100 puppets feature, including likenesses of Tom Cruise, Greta Thunberg, Meghan Markle, Tyson Fury, RuPaul, Angela Rayner, Idris Elba, Ant & Dec, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Keir Starmer, Stormzy, Vladimir Putin... and many more. 2.30pm/7.30pm

BLACK PANTHER: Head to the Royal Albert Hall for the European premiere of Black Panther in Concert, featuring the Chineke! Orchestra playing Ludwig Göransson’s award-winning score live as the film is screened. 2.30pm/7.30pm

HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES: Theatre company British Touring Shakespeare bring a new adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The Hound of the Baskervilles to the Bridge House Theatre in Penge. It's aimed both at existing fans and anyone who's never read the novel, and features live music and elaborate costumes. Today's your last chance to see it. 7.30pm

PHASES: Electronic, mechanical and sonic artwork-creators Kai Lab team up with composer/musician Aliayta Foon-Dancoes to create Phases — a mesmerising piece of music/performance art on violin and quadrophonic polyrhythm drum. It's at October Gallery in Bloomsbury tonight only. 7.30pm-8.30pm

PANTI BLISS: Drag queen Panti Bliss returns to Soho Theatre with her comedy show If These Wigs Could Talk, fresh from a stint on Dancing With The Stars. It sees the notorious performer taking a moment to question her purpose and place in this changing world. 9.30pm

Sunday 28 May

Things to do this weekend in London: two people in Spiderman costumes at MCM Comic  Con
Today's the final day of MCM Comic Con

HAYES CANAL FESTIVAL: Hop on a boat and cruise along the Hayes Canal — just one of the events at the Hayes Canal Festival, which also includes exhibitions about the canal's history and sustainability, live music, kids' activities, and a food and drink tent. (Crucial info: it's the Hayes in the Borough of Hillingdon, NOT the Hayes in the Borough of Bromley). FREE, 7am-6.30pm

RIDELONDON 2023: Large parts of central London go traffic-free for RideLondon 2023, a free and family-friendly bike ride that's open to everyone. Ride past the likes of St Paul's, Trafalgar Square and Westminster without the usual traffic. 10am-3pm

90S BRUNCH: Take yourself along to 100 Wardour Street in Soho for a 90s R'n'B edition bottomless brunch. A DJ plays the nostalgic likes of TLC, Missy Elliot and Usher while you tuck into two or three courses, with the option of bottomless bubbles. 12pm-5pm

SUNDAY BUZZ: The monthly Sunday Buzz free live music event is back at artsdepot in North Finchley. Enjoy the sound of vintage swing band Hot Swing Bohème playing Gypsy-Swing music from the 1930s-40s in a lively show. FREE, 1pm

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY: Barbican Cinema screens a recording of The Sleeping Beauty, performed by the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, featuring Tchaikovsky’s music and Oliver Messel's fairytale designs. 2pm

BLACK HISTORY BUS TOUR: Take a tour of London's top tourist attractions with a difference — seeing them from an African/Caribbean perspective. The Black History Bus Tour is a three-hour drive, starting in Brixton and passing landmarks including the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament, with the hidden Black connections explained as you go. 2pm-5pm

A GYPSY HISTORY: Jeremy Harte — author of Travellers Through Time and secretary of the Romany and Traveller Family History Society — is at Conway Hall to discuss Romany Gypsy culture from Tudor times through to today, focusing on different portrayals of Romany people, and the hardships of travelling life. 3pm

SUNDAY SCHTICK: The Rose & Crown in Kentish Town hosts another free night of comedy with its Sunday Schtick session. Stands ups take to an open mic for an unpredictable evening of comedy — who knows, maybe you'll discover the next Big Thing. FREE, 7pm

Bank holiday Monday 29 May

Things to do this weekend in London:  Fleur East
Fleur East headlines Foodies Festival today

LORD OF THE RINGS: The inimitable Prince Charles Cinema hosts another of its legendary Lord of the Rings Trilogy extended editions screenings. That means watching the lengthy version of all three films back to back, with just a short break between each — a feat lasting over 12 hours. 10.15am-11pm

ONE HAND DON'T CLAP: Barbican Cinema hosts a free senior screening of One Hand Don't Clap, a recently-restored documentary about Calypso music and the community around it, featuring musicians including Lord Kitchener and Calypso Rose. FREE, 11am

ALBERT'S BAND: Take the kids along to the Royal Albert Hall and introduce them to live music courtesy of Albert's Band. All Aboard is the theme of today's concert, starring musical pirates, aimed at 4-11 year olds and their families. 12pm/2.30pm

SECRET SERVICE: Join Footprints of London guide David Charnick for a walking tour around the St James's area, with particular focus on sites linked to espionage. In addition to parks and a Tudor palace, the area has links to MI5, MI6, the SOE and other aspects of the secret service. 2.30pm-4.30pm

NEW MUSIC: As with every Monday, the Half Moon in Putney hosts a night of new music, giving up and coming musicians a platform to show off their talents. Rock band Beyond Babylon and multi-instrumentalist Marta Per are among those on tonight's line up. Audience entry is only £2.50 and the first 24 customers through the door get a free pint. 7.30pm