Things to do this weekend is sponsored by Regents Opera.
JAPAN FILM FESTIVAL: Genesis Cinema in Mile End is the place to head for the London Japan Film Festival. In addition to screenings of documentaries, feature films and shorts, it's a celebration of Japanese culture with dance and sushi workshops to take part in. 20-21 May
EUROPEAN WRITERS' FESTIVAL: The British Library hosts the European Writers' Festival, a gathering of authors from all over Europe for two days of debates, discussions and ideas. Topics include writing about history, the impact of the war in Ukraine, and the threat to freedom of expression. 20-21 May
DULWICH FESTIVAL: It's the final weekend of this year's Dulwich Festival, a celebration of the culture and history of the area. Highlights from these final two days include a woodland wildlife walk, the West Dulwich Spring Fair, a street art walk, a performance by the London Tango Quartet, and the Goose Green Fair. Until 21 May
DISNEY EXPERIENCE: You'll have to be quick if you want tickets for the final weekend of Disney's Wonder of Friendship, a new interactive experience which celebrates 100 years of Disney through four themed rooms. At time of writing, many timeslots are sold out already. Until 21 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 the theme 'Shakespeare: 400 Years of Influence',with special focus on rare editions and objects related to the Bard's works. An original Peggy Fortnum illustration of Paddington Bear, a first edition of Moby Dick, and a rare signed presentation copy of Karl Marx's Das Kapital are among the other highlights. 18-21 May
QUEERIOSITIES FAIR: Queeriosities is an art and makers' fair led by LGBTQ+ creatives and businesses, taking place at the Museum of the Home in Hoxton. Browse and buy ceramics, paintings, textiles, books, gifts and homewares. There's also a panel discussion about queer domestic making and style on Sunday. 20-21 May
STATUS QUO: This is the final weekend to see Celebrating Seven Decades of Quo, a free display at Barbican Library showcasing memorabilia relating to rock band Status Quo. It includes photographs, tour posters, and handwritten lyrics. FREE, until 22 May
CHINA'S HIDDEN CENTURY: The British Museum has a new exhibition, China's hidden century, about events in the country in the 19th century, when 2,000 years of dynastic rule came to an end and modern republicanism took over. The show illuminates the lives of individuals — an empress, a dancer, a soldier, an artist, a housewife, a merchant and a diplomat — and contains items including cloisonné vases given by the Last Emperor's court to King George and Queen Mary for their coronation in 1911. 18 May-8 October
THE OFFBEAT SARI: The Offbeat Sari is Design Museum's newest exhibition. It looks at the multiple definitions of the modern Sari — worn by some as an everyday garment, and others only for more formal occasions — and how its unstitched form has allowed designers to experiment with it over the years. From 19 May
INDO + CARIBBEAN: Museum of London Docklands opens a free new display, Indo + Caribbean: The creation of a culture, which explores the underrepresented history of Indian indenture (people being contracted to work without salary for a specific period) in the British Caribbean. Timed to mark the 75th anniversary of Empire Windrush arriving in London, it draws on family histories to explore Indo-Caribbean culture in London today, and features contracts, shipping company records, postcards, and papers from the Parliamentary Archives. FREE, 19 May-19 November
Opera in the opulent Grand Temple at Freemasons' Hall
Looking for a really spectacular way to get your culture fix this weekend? This innovative production of Die Walküre might be just the ticket! Presented by leading fringe company Regents Opera, the second instalment of Wagner's legendary Ring cycle premieres on Sunday inside the art deco wonder that is the Grand Temple at Freemasons' Hall.
This opera is an excellent entry point for anyone who's curious about the art form. Not only does it include Wagner's greatest hits (including the iconic Ride of the Valkyries, which has featured on innumerable movie and TV soundtracks), but the story's a corker, too. Drawn from Norse mythology, it involves wrathful gods and forbidden love — an epic tale made all the more majestic by the stunning venue, which is one of the finest examples of art deco architecture in the country.
There's also plenty for opera aficionados to get excited about. Like the fact that the piece will be performed in its entirety by an orchestra of just 21. Normally a company of this size would have to make cuts to the piece but thanks to Ben Woodward's arrangement, you'll be able to experience the whole thing in a uniquely intimate setting.
Die Walküre debuts at 3pm on Sunday 21 May but don't worry if you can't make it — there are also performances on Tuesday 23 May and Saturday 27 May at 5.30pm. Get your tickets today, while they last!
Saturday 20 May
HUNTERIAN REOPENS: Closed since 2019, the Hunterian Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields finally reopens. It contains 14,000 specimens belonging to 18th century surgeon and anatomist John Hunter, and tells the history of surgery using various instruments, drawings, models and the like. FREE, from 16 May (open Tuesday-Saturday)
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.
CLEAN AIR CYCLE RIDE: Everyone's welcome to take part in the Camden Clean Air Cycle Ride, a friendly and non-competitive bike ride through the Borough of Camden, beginning and ending in Granary Square in King's Cross. The route includes Camden Town, Primrose Hill and Hampstead, with staggered start times from 9.30am-4pm
HIGHWAYS FESTIVAL: The Royal Albert Hall hosts Highways, a day-long festival of country and Americana music. It kicks off with a country concert for kids, and also features acts such as Kip Moore, Morgan Wade, Jackson Dean and Stephen Wilson Jr. Browse the full programme. 9.30am-11.30pm
YOGA BRUNCH: Kickstart your weekend with a 75-minute Yin Yang yoga class at The Treehouse in Elephant Park, followed by a Mexican-inspired brunch. 9.45am-1pm
BARNES FRAGRANCE FAIR: Independent fragrance brands from across the UK descend on Barnes Green Centre for the Barnes Fragrance Fair. It consists of talks and workshops, as well as a chance to sniff and shop your new favourite scent. 10am-5pm
CEMETERY OPEN DAY: The Friends of Nunhead Cemetery hold an open day at the south London burial ground, one of the 'Magnificent Seven' group of London cemeteries. Today's event includes tours of the chapel and crypt — not normally open to the public — as well as stalls, performances and family activities. 11am-5pm
HOT SAUCE FESTIVAL: How hot is too hot for you? Find out at the Hot Sauce Festival in Peckham, where hundreds of small-batch sauces from 40+ traders are available to try and buy, along with live music, games, street food — and a bar for those all-important, palate-cleansing drinks. 11am-7pm
KINGSTON BEER FESTIVAL: Kingston Workmen's Club and Institute — just a few minutes' walk from the station — hosts the final day of the Kingston Beer Festival. Sample some of 70 ales — many brewed locally — and 11 ciders and perries. The event supports charity Princess Alice Hospice. 12pm-6pm
ALBERT MEMORIAL TOUR: There's a rare chance to get behind the railings of the Albert Memorial, on this Royal Parks guided tour. Get a closer look at the Kensington Gardens memorial, commissioned by Queen Victoria on the death of her husband, and hear the story of their relationship and why the memorial looks as it does. 2pm-3.30pm
SOHO CHURCHES: Join Peter Howell, former chairman of the Victorian Society, for a guided walk around Soho's churches. Meet at the National Scottish Church and go on a route which visits several Victorian and Edwardian churches, including Corpus Christi (Maiden Lane), St Patrick (Soho Square) and the French Protestant Church. 2pm-4pm
ZIMMER VS WILLIAMS: Hear film scores by two of the greatest composers at one single concert. The Music of Zimmer vs Williams at Southbank Centre features the London Concert Orchestra playing music from the likes of E.T., Harry Potter, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Batman, The Lion King and Superman. 2.30pm
MARINA SENA: Brazilian singer Marina Sena celebrates the release of her new single Tudo Pra Amar Você with a gig at Village Underground. Expect a lively blend of samba, funk, carioca, trap, reggae and axé. Doors 6.30pm
2000S SUMMER PARTY: Party like it's 20 years ago at the So Fetch 2000s Summer Party. Dance the night away to tunes by the likes of Britney Spears, McFly and Avril Lavigne, at Between the Bridges on South Bank. 7pm
CROYDON CLASSICAL CONCERT: Kensington Symphony Orchestra joins forces with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston for a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No.3 (1896). Mahler’s longest work consists of six movements that are markedly different in construction and tone, and you can hear it in full at Fairfield Halls in Croydon. 7.30pm
SCARED TO DANCE: Ex-footballer, broadcaster and author Pat Nevin guest DJs at this month's Scared To Dance, a club night playing post-punk, indiepop, new wave and art rock music. Takes place at the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston. 11pm
Sunday 21 May
HOT AIR BALLOONS: After weather stopped play last weekend, we've got our fingers crossed that the weather conditions are ideal for the Lord Mayor's Hot Air Balloon Regatta, which sees dozens of balloons flying over the London sky early one Sunday morning — hopefully today! It hasn't taken place since 2019, and there's one more reserve date set aside for it this year — in July. FREE, from 5.30am(!)
CHEESE MARKET: Get down to Chiswick early doors for the regular Cheese Market, and browse and buy more than 150 cheeses, as well as associated paraphernalia (crackers, chutney, and the like). As well as being a delicious way to spend a morning, it's a nod to the area's history: Chiswick derives from 'Cheesewick' meaning 'cheese farm'. 9.30am-3pm
SS WINDRUSH: 75 years since the SS Windrush arrived from the Caribbean, join a walking tour around Dalston and Hackney looking at how Black culture has shaped the area between the 1950s and the 21st century. Your Black History Walks guide focuses on music, activism, bookshops, gentrification, and other topics. 10am-12pm
PLANT AND CERAMICS MARKET: Mix and match houseplants with pots, planters and vases at the Grown and Thrown market at Big Penny Social in Walthamstow. There's a wide range of sizes and species of houseplants, alongside ceramic pieces by a variety of artists and makers. 11am-5pm
SPRING FAYRE: Wandsworth Bridge Road closes to traffic for the day for a Spring Fayre, with a shopping market, food and drink stalls, live music across two stages, family-friendly games and entertainment, and a free exhibition about Fulham's past. 11am-5pm
VORTEX TEMPORUM: The London Sinfonietta and violinist Daniel Pioro explore the concept of time at a special concert at Southbank Centre. They perform two very different yet complementary masterpieces; 'nature time' in Vivaldi’s iconic The Four Seasons and Gérard Grisey’s Vortex Temporum, a work that takes us through three time frames. The event features narration and specially created writing by author Michael Morpurgo. 4pm
LGBTQ+ COMEDY: As part of the London LGBT+ Comedy Festival, married couple Heleana and Sophia Blackwell perform their show Wife Material at 2Northdown in King's Cross — a celebration of silliness, chosen family and queer joy covering dating disasters, lockdown love and more. 6pm
THE GREENWICH TRIO: Conway Hall's Sunday Concerts are the longest-running chamber music concerts in Europe, and today it's the Greenwich Trio taking to the stage, accompanied by flautist Boris Bizjak. The programme features works by Beethoven, Schubert and others. 6.30pm