Schools take a week-long half-term holiday in May. Choose from lots of family-friendly activities put on by top attractions this week.
Make plans for the two public holidays (bank holidays) in May with special events taking place over the long weekends.
Unmissable annual events usually include the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, however, this year it's happening in September.
In May, spring is well under way with warm weather and some delightful sunshine, but you may still need a light coat and a brolly, in case of a light drizzle.
There are also two public holidays (bank holidays) this month: the Early May Bank Holiday and the Spring Bank Holiday. So, keep an eye out for what’s on in London in May to make the most of the extended weekends.
Many of the city's shops, attractions and entertainment venues have reopened following the easing of coronavirus restrictions. Be aware that some venues may still be closed, and you may need to book in advance, even if entry is free.
What's reopening this month?
Provided the coronavirus restrictions ease as planned, the following attractions have indicated they will reopen their doors to visitors this month:
- The Royal Festival Hall reopens on 28 May with a weekend full of concerts and activities to celebrate its 70th anniversary, kicking off with Chineke! Orchestra and Sheku Kanneh-Mason's performance of Dvořák's cello concerto. The reopening forms part of the Southbank Centre's Summer Reunion series that runs throughout the summer.
- The Design Museum is reopening with Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street, a display of the history, impact and changes of footwear throughout the years.
- Spend a day rediscovering the Barbican, as it reopens with exhibitions including Jean Dubuffet's Brutal Beauty and a film programme Chronic Youth 2021.
- Book your seat at the theatre! Cult musical Everybody's Talking about Jamie is making a comeback to the Apollo Theatre’s stage.
- Watch a play in the sun as Shakespeare's Globe open-air theatre summer season kicks off this month.
More May events to look forward to
- Electric band Metronomy, which, among others, headlined the Park Stage at Glastonbury, takes to Alexandra Palace’s The Great Hall this month.
- Check out A Glittering City: Ayo Akingbade with Duchamp & Sons, an exhibition which explores the themes of beloging, displacement and being part of the community in London.
- Celebrate one of the most influential flower decorators of the 20th century in Constance Spry and the Fashion For Flowers at the Garden Museum.
- Wander through the Secret World of Plants in a series of immersive experiences starting this month at Kew Gardens.
- A hilarious murder mystery, starring RuPaul's drag queens Courtney Act and Monét X Change? It's a thing! Find out whodunnit as the conversations unfold at Tuck Island during Death Drop at the Garrick Theatre.
- Treat yourself to afternoon tea with friends or family in your very own dining dome at Queen's House in Greenwich.
Virtual activities to join this May
- Look back on the heroes, random acts of kindness and glimpses of the “new normal” in a book collating 100 pandemic portraits from the National Portrait Gallery’s Hold Still exhibition, available to purchase online.
- Explore the topic of The Objectification of Royal Women's Bodies as Symbols of the State with Royal Museums Greenwich in an online talk as part of monthly museum lates.
Find a flavour of what's usually on in May below. Make sure to check the individual event for confirmation of this year's edition or plan ahead for next year.
What's usually on in London in May?
- Celebrate the heritage of the capital with events, activities and exhibitions on London History Day.
- Marvel at stunning horticultural displays, pick up the latest gardening trends and rehome a plant or two at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This year's event is taking place in September.
- Check out world-class photography from across the globe at Somerset House's Photo London each May. This year's event is taking place in September.
- Join the Eid Festival celebrations in Trafalgar Square every May, featuring family activities and street food from around the world.
- Admire the floral displays of the surrounding streets for Chelsea in Bloom or stop by Covent Garden to be wowed by Covent Garden in Bloom.
- You’re in for a treat, The May Fair at Grosvenor Square usually brings seaside vibes to the city on the early May bank holiday weekend.
For more things to do in London in May, take a look at this events calendar and guide to what's on in London. And catch the best of the London stage with this London theatre guide. For on-the-go adventure ideas, download the Visit London App.
WEATHER: For average seasonal temperatures and rainfall, see our London Weather page.
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