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12 Things to Do in London This May

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by Serena Reidy (subscribe)
Freelance writer and avid reader living in the North of London. Check out my blog at www.ramblingsofanotherunigraduate.com
Published April 27th 2019


With the release of highly anticipated films such as Tolkien, Aladdin and Rocketman, and events like RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Canalway Cavalcade, May is set to be an exciting month for Londoners. If you work full-time, you'll be pleased to hear that there are not one, but two bank holidays this month (May 6th and 27th), so you'll have some time to check out some of the things on this list.

1. Canalway Cavalcade

Pop down to Little Venice at the end of the week for Canalway Cavalcade, London's biggest waterway festival. This annual event has been taking place at Little Venice since 1983 and it is expected that there will be over 100 boats moored around Warwick Avenue. Canalway Cavalcade is perfect for the whole family, with its various stalls, competitions, music performances, and live theatre.

When: 4th-6th May
Where: Little Venice
Cost: Free (unless you want to purchase food and items from the stalls)

2. Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival

Celebrate the 357th birthday of Mr Punch (from Punch and Judy) at the Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival. The day starts off at 11am with a grand procession around Covent Garden, and is followed by a church service and afternoon of puppet and dance performances hands-on workshops, and music in St. Paul's Church gardens.

When: 12th May, 11:00am-5:30pm
Where: St Paul's Church, Bedford Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9ED
Cost: Free

3. Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre reopens its doors in the middle of May with a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Our Town by Thornton Wilder. Other shows you can expect to see this summer include Evita, Hansel and Gretel, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. British weather is very unpredictable so don't forget to bring a waterproof jacket and brolly!

When: From 16th May
Where: Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, The Regent's Park, Inner Circle, NW1 4NU
Cost: Tickets range from £25 to £62.50, depending on the play and seats

4. RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Perfect for the green-fingered enthusiasts, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the UK's most famous flower and landscape gardens show. Held in the grounds of the Chelsea Royal Hospital, visitors can discover rare flowers and plants and explore over 500 exhibitors, including an Artisan Gardens inspired by Japanese emperors. There will also be a garden designed by the Duchess of Cambridge in collaboration with the RHS.

When: 21st-25th May
Where: Chelsea Royal Hospital, Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4SR
Cost: £67.75

5. Chelsea in Bloom

If you haven't secured tickets to the main RHS Chelsea Flower Show, why not explore Chelsea in Bloom instead? It's a free flower festival on the streets of Chelsea, during which shops and other establishments the area put up floral displays and models to show off their creativity. The theme for this is 'Under the Sea' so you can expect marine-inspired displays from shops like Olivia von Halle, Kiki McDonough and Poetry.

When: 20th-25th May
Where: Chelsea
Cost: Free

6. Belgravia in Bloom

Similar to Chelsea in Bloom, but the theme is 'floriography', the Victorian-era concept in which people sent secret messages via flowers. Head to Elizabeth Street where you can see beautiful floral displays from stores such as Peggy Porschen, Les Senteurs and Moyses Stevens, or Halkin Street, which is home to last year's winner, Neill Strain. Visit the Botanic Identity Station in Eccleston Yards for floral illustrations and herbal tea blending workshops.

When: 20th-25th May
Where: Belgravia
Cost: Free

7. Photo London

Hailed as "the UK photography event of the year" by The Guardian, Photo London brings together the world's leading photographers, curators, exhibitors, dealers and the public. This year you can expect work from Steve McCurry, Alvaro Deprit and Larry Clarke.

When: 16th-19th May
Where: Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA
Cost: £27 for an Adult Day Pass, £19.00 for Student Day Pass, free for children under 13 years

8. Stella Live

Stella Live is a new fashion and well-being festival organised by the magazine. The event is held at the Saatchi Gallery and you can get advice and treatments from companies such as Nails Inc and blow Ltd. Speakers include Fearne Cotton, Jo Brand, Mary Portas and Davina McCall.

When: 10th-11th May
Where: Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York's HQ, King's Road, Chelsea, SW3 4RY
Cost: £50 per ticket (includes a glass of Mirabeau 'La Folie' sparkling rosé and access to celebrity talks, panels, treatments and masterclasses)

9. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

If it's sunny during May half term, head to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and let your kids have a turn on ArcelorMittal Orbit, the world's highest and longest tunnel slide. Afterwards, enjoy a stroll along the waterways or hop on the swan pedalo. There are also play areas for little ones and over 100 acres of gardens, meadows and wetlands for nature lovers.

When: Open all year
Where: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, E20 2ST
Cost: Free

10. WWT London Wetland Centre

An urban oasis just by the Thames, the London Wetland Centre is ideal for anyone who wants to take a break from sightseeing. Stroll among the lakes, ponds and gardens, and spot the wildlife – there are otters, frogs and exotic swans, ducks and geese, including American wood ducks and smaws. Once you've explored the centre, relax in the café and let your kids run around the adventure playground, where they can enjoy the zip slides, giant water vole tunnels and climbing wall.

When: Open all year, from 9:30am to 5:30pm
Where: WWT London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth's Walk, Barnes, SW13 9WT
Cost: £12.87 for adults, £7.83 for children (free for under 4s), £35.19 for families, and £10.94 for concession

11. Marina at Royal Albert Hall

Catch award-winning singer Marina as she performs at Royal Albert Hall as part of the Albert Sessions. Expect to hear 'Handmade Heaven', 'Orange Trees' and other songs from Marina's latest album Love Fear, which was released just a few days ago.

When: 3rd May
Where: Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London SW7 2AP
Cost: around £30 per ticket

12. Tolkien

Head to your local cinema this month to see Tolkien. Starring Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins, Tolkien follows the creator of The Lord of the Rings as he develops a friendship with a group of creatives at university. The friendship is soon tested when World War 1 breaks out. Other films to look out for in May include UglyDolls, The Hustle, Pokémon Detective Pikachu, A Dog's Journey, Aladdin, Rocketman and The Sun Is Also A Star.

When: 3rd May
Where: Your local cinema
Cost: Varies
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