The Best Things to Do in London on May Bank Holiday Weekend

One bank holiday done and on to the next. From exhibitions to beer crawls, to London’s best parks and days outdoors, here’s our guide on what to do for the May bank holiday…

Photo: Rooftop Film Club

1 Enjoy the sun
With the sun set to shine through the long weekend, pack a picnic and hang out at one of London’s many parks. The Royal Parks of London (that’s Hyde, Richmond, Bushy, St James’s and Greenwich Park as well as Kensington Gardens, Brompton Cemetery and The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill) are always a treat, but there’s also Victoria Park and Clissold Park in the east , the lovely Hampstead Heath and its swimming ponds in the north, as well as Brockwell Park and Crystal Palace in the south. Head to your regular fave, or try a new park in a different pocket of town

2 Kyōsai: The Israel Goldman Collection at The RA, Piccadilly
This exhibition showcases the work – some never seen publicly before – of 19th century Japanese painter Kawanabe Kyōsai. The exhibition – the first solo Kyōsai in the UK since 1993 – focuses largely on the art of sekiga, ‘spontaneous paintings’, produced at ‘calligraphy and painting parties’ (shogakai) which were often fueled by prodigious amounts of sake, and armed with that information, you can kind of see a drunk man’s mind on the canvas; his paintings are beautiful and comical, and also a little mad.
Date: Running until June
Time: 10 am-6pm
Price: £ 17
Address: Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD

3 The Blackhorse Lane Beer Mile, Walthamstow
Make your way through Walthamstow’s boozy strip, sampling some of London’s best craft beers while you listen to live bands and djs and have the odds brewery tour as you do. Participating breweries and taprooms include Truman’s Social Club, Signature Brew, Beerblefish Brewing, Exale Brewing, Wild Card Brewery spirit Hackney Brewery, which are all under 10 minute stumble from each other. Entry is free, and you can get your Blackhorse Beer Mile passport stamped and earn as pint glass on completion. For south-siders, the Bermondsey Beer Mile is always good craic. Start at Maltby Street Market, and see how far you actually get.
Date: Sunday, May 1
Time: Start at Truman Social Brewery; 1 Priestley Way, E17 6AL

4 Rooftop Film Club, Peckham
Rooftop Cinema at the Bussey Building in Peckham opens this bank holiday, kicking off with True Romance with Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette. Jurassic park, West Side Story and Belfast, which will be captioned and signed as part pf Hard of Hearing Week, all so feature on the big screen through the course of the weekend.
Date: April 29-May 2
Tickets: From £ 16.95
Address: Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4ST; 7 & 8 Stratford Multi-Storey Car Park, Great Eastern Road E15 1BB

5 Outdoor drinking and eating, across London
More rooftops and outdoor venues are popping up in time for the bank holiday. The Culpeper, in Shoreditch reopens its rooftop garden, which is a small, green urban oasis among east London’s hubbub. Rooftop party place with a cracking view of St Paul’s Madison, has taken its sprint time ques from the Amalfi coast with lush foliage and lemon trees. Pergola Paddington has turned into a Mexican beach-inspired fiesta, with fire performers, dancers, live percussion and djs playing until late. Somerset House Terrace is also now open, and the iconic venue makes for a great spot for a sundowner or two.

6 The London Cabaret Club Pop Brunch, Bloomsbury
The London Cabaret Club launches its monthly Pop Brunch this bank holiday Saturday, with BBQ-style dishes whipped up by Michelin-starred chef Richard Galli. Fizz and mimosas are unlimited for an hour, so quaff away as you watch a live show filled with noughties bangers and floor fillers such as Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You and Bruno Mars’ smash hit, Uptown Funk.
Date: Saturday, April 30
Time: 12 pm-4pm
Price: £ 49.50 for two-courses
Address: Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square WC1B 4DA

7 Hampton Court Palace Tulip Festival at Hampton Court Palace, Molesey
See more than 120,000 blooms fill the courtyards and gardens of Hampton Court Palace at the UK’s biggest tulip festival as you stroll around the palace’s grounds and immerse yourself in spectacular displays. This year’s event features more than 60 rare, historic and specialist varieties of the flower, inspired by Mary II’s famous 17th century collection at Hampton Court Palace.
When: April 12-May 2
Time: 10 am-5.30pm
Price: £ 26.10 / £ 13 adult / child; concession and group tickets available, members go free
Address: Hampton Court Way, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU

8 Yoga at Sky Garden, City
Led by yoga instructors from TruBe, Sky Garden’s yoga is a one-hour dynamic vinyasa flow class suitable for all levels and abilities. Let the instructor guide you through your poses and stretches, and as a special bank holiday treat, follow up your cat-cow with a post class breakfast the Darwin Brasserie.
Time: Saturday and Sunday 9 am-10am
Cost: £ 25
Address: The Fenchurch Building, 1 Sky Garden Walk EC3M 8AF

9 Small is Beautiful: Miniature Art Exhibition, South Kensington
Small is Beautiful: Miniature Art Exhibition comes to South Kensington showcasing teeny tiny artworks and photographic works from more than 30 international artists. It is a delightfully quirky and playful exhibition in which visitors can immerse themselves in offbeat worlds, or tiny proportions. Watch out for a sculpture of a mother and daughter small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil by Bosnian artist Jasenko Dordevic and London-based photographer Slinkachu’s installations including one of a serpent attacking a little girl and her mother made from a green shoelace in a puddle. As part of the run, there are creative workshops for children aged between 7 and 12, so they too can create grand but mini works of art.
Time: Saturday & Sunday 10 am-9pm
Price: £ 16 / £ 13 adult / child
Address: 79-85 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, SW7 3LD

10 Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear at The V&A, South Kensington
Celebrating the power, artistry and diversity of masculine attire, this exhibition trace how menswear has been fashioned and refashioned over the centuries and how designers, tailors and artists (as well as their clients and sitters) have constructed and performed masculinity to deconstruct it and start again. It features looks from Harris Reed, Gucci, Raf Simons, as well as paintings, photograph, film and performance.
Date: Running to November
Tickets: From £ 20
Address: Cromwell Road, South Kensington SW7 2RLb

11 Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature at the V&A, South Kensington
Another V&A exhibition and a collaboration with the National Trust, Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature explores the beloved author’s interest in the natural world. It’s a playful and interactive exhibition that invites visitors to rediscover Potter’s achievements, from storyteller to natural scientist and conservationist. The exhibition features more than 240 personal objects including letters, manuscripts, sketches, coded diaries, and family photographs.
Date: Running until January, 2023
Cost: From £ 14
Address: Cromwell Road, South Kensington SW7 2RL

12 Cats and Dogs Exhibition & the Spring Fair at Horniman Museum and Gardens, Forest Hill
Discover more about your furry friends in this interactive family-friendly exhibition that offers a pets-eye view of the world. This immersive exhibition explores the scientific, social and cultural role that cats and dogs play in our world, and invites visitors to go on an exciting, sensory journey, exploring what it’s like to be a cat or a dog.
When: Running until October 30
Price: £ 9.50 / £ 5 adult / child; group tickets available
100 London Road, Forest Hill SE23 3PQ

13 Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern, South Bank
This exhibition showcases the broad, international scope of the surrealist movement, featuring works made within a 60 year span, from 50 countries. It shows how Surrealism inspired and united artists from far flung and diverse locales, and how the movement took root in varying places at different times, offering artist the freedom to challenge authority and imagine a new world.
Date: Until August 29
Cost: £ 18; concessions available
Address: Tate Modern, Bankside London SE1 9TG

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