The Best Things to Do in London in May

Looking for things to do in London in May? Check this lot out

You’re in plenty of time to book tickets to the best events in London, from theatre shows to art exhibitions, and there are always pop-ups opening across the city, but our handy guide features the best of what’s on in London in May so you won’t miss a thing.

Spring has well and truly spring by May and a good job too because this month marks the start of festival season. Not only are music ones kicking off in the capital, including newbie High Lights as well as Project 6GALAWide Awake and Cross The Tracks – there’s even a canal festival coming to town this May. With Doughnut Week, Sandwich Week, BBQ Week and English Wine Week all happening this month, plus plenty of new restaurant openings on the way, there’s a lotta good eating and drinking to be had too. Best of all, we get two bank holidays this month, so you’ve got even more free time to enjoy all these goodies. 

Red table with plates of food

1. Try Ixta Belfrage’s Limited-Time Menu at Isla in The Standard Hotel

Ixta Belfrage, chef and award-winning author of Mezcla: Recipes to Excite, is going to be taking over the kitchen at The Standard’s Isla this spring. The all-day restaurant will be serving up an exclusive flavour-packed menu inspired by the recipes in Ixta’s hit cookbook and the culinary traditions of Italy, Brazil and Mexico, with the star of the show being a fan-favourite, her king prawn lasagne. Other highlights will include guava roast duck tacos with chipotle crema; crisped sticky rice stuffed aubergine; a moqueca fish slider on curried coconut brioche; sea bream and yellow tomato aguachile; and honey-roasted cashew ice cream choco-taco.

Wed 1st – Wed 22nd May 2024
10 Argyle Street, London NW1 2ST

Viola's Room by Punchdrunk

2. See Punchdrunk’s Latest Immersive Theatre Show

Groundbreaking theatre group Punchdrunk has announced a new show, Viola’s Room. The immersive play is based on Barry Pain’s gothic short story The Moon-Slave and has been adapted for a new audience by Booker Prize-shortlisted author Daisy Johnson. Guests are told to expect a barefoot journey around a maze-like installation, guided by an unseen narrator through headphones.

Tues 14th May – Fri 31st May 2024 (excluding Mondays)
One Cartridge Place, Woolwich, London SE18 6ZR

Project 6 Festival 2024

3. Head to the Second Annual Project 6 Festival

After a successful debut last year, Project 6 Festival is going for round two, and it sounds like it’s gonna be quite the party, especially as it’s celebrating the 30th anniversary of Rinse FM. The fest is taking place at Brockwell Park once again, with a line-up that spans drum & bass, hip-hop, grime, techno and electronic music, including  Pusha T, Chip, DJ Boring, DJ Seinfeld, Eliza Rose, CASISDEAD, Shy FX, Katy B, Freddie Gibbs + Madlib, Mala, Benga, Steam Down, sim0ne, Taylah Elaine, Juls, Vigro Deep, 4AM Kru, Arthi, Neffa-T, Sully and more. Tickets are on sale now – grab yours before they’re gone.

Fri 24th May 2024
Brockwell Park, Norwood Road, London SE24 9BJ

market in King's Cross

4. Shop Vinyl From Independent Labels at This Market

Independent Label Market is back at Coal Drops Yard this May, with indies from all across London and the UK selling their freshest and finest fare. Labels including Ninja Tune, Deep Medi, BBE, Cherry Red, Dirty Hit, Heavenly, Matador, Erased Tapes, Wah Wah 45s, Strut, Partisan, Revolver and more will be setting up shop and stocking their stalls with limited editions, signed records, vinyl rarities and test pressings as well as exclusive label and band merchandise.

Sat 11th May 2024
Coal Drops Yard, Stable St, London N1C 4DQ

5. Spend a Saturday at Wide Awake Festival

Wide Awake Festival has built a rep for curating great line-ups, mixing electronica, leftfield indie, techno, jazz and post-punk, and this year is no different. The likes of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Modeselektor, Sevdaliza, INIKO, La Luz, OK Williams, The New Eves, HTRK, Model/Actriz, Young Fathers, Squid, Alice Glass, C.O.F.F.I.N, Babe Rainbow, The Dare, Decius, Etran De L’air, Crumb, Eartheater, Upchuck, and YHWH Nailgun will all be taking to the stage. Tickets are on sale now, grab yours now.

Sat 25th May 2024
Brockwell Park, London

The Art of Banksy exhibition

6. Explore the Art of Banksy at This Exhibition

The Art of Banksy first landed in London in the spring of 2021 after touring the world, popping up in cities from Melbourne to Miami, and following another international jaunt, it returned to the capital in 2023. After closing at the start of this year, the exhibition is on its way back for a third run, this time opening in a new space in Soho. The show is not authorised by the artist and therefore not curated in collaboration with him (not really Banksy’s style is it?) so all the pieces on show are loans from private collectors. In fact, the exhibition will display the world’s largest collection of official Banksy works from 1997 – 2008. This time around, over 150 pieces will be on show, including the iconic ‘Girl and Balloon’ ‘Flower Thrower’ and ‘Rude Copper’ as well as artworks from Dismaland, ones that reference the war in Ukraine and some going on public display for the first time.

Wed 1st – Fri 31st May 2024
100 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0JG

canal boat on the canal

7. Soak Up the Sun at This Free Canal Festival

Celebrate life on the water in London this early May Bank Holiday by heading to the IWA Canalway Cavalcade in Little Venice. The canal festival is running over three days and you’ll be able to check boats of all shapes and sizes, watch the illuminated procession, hit up a range of stalls, listen to live music, get the pints in from the real ale bar, kick back with some food and soak up the community atmosphere. And you never know, you might be inspired to take to the water yourself.

Sat 4th – Mon 6th May 2024, 10am – 6pm
Little Venice, London W9 2PF

BBQ meat platter

8. Eat BBQ at This Black Cactus Pop-Up

Enjoy a summer of beer and BBQ at Exale Tap as the Walthamstow taproom plays host to smoked meat specialists Black Cactus and their 500-gallon pit smoker. The menu, showcasing produce from the UK’s best meat suppliers, will be changing regularly but you can expect the likes of Texas-style BBQ trays, dry-aged ex-dairy cow smoked burgers, chimichurri brisket rolls, and char siu pork belly banh mi (and yes, there will be veggie dishes on offer too). Get your BBQ and Exale brew fix Thurs – Sun.

Thurs 2nd – Fri 31st May 2024 (excluding Mondays to Wednesdays)
Uplands Business Park, Blackhorse Lane, London E17 5QJ

Cross The Tracks 2024

9. Dance to Jazz, Funk and Soul at This Festival

Jazz, funk and soul fest Cross The Tracks is back in Brixton for 2024 and it’s got a major line-up planned for its fifth edition. The likes of Erykah Badu, Madlib (DJ), Venna, Iniko, Neal Francis, Brainstory, Yazmin Lacey (DJ), Mackwood, Natanya, Discoballin’, Aim – 20yrs of Cold Water Music, Joey Manzi b2b Nath EPS (Elevation), Faye Meana, Orion Sun, 47SOUL, El Michels Affair, SIPHO. and more will all be taking to the stage. As well as all the music, Cross The Tracks will also feature a creative’s market, workshops and talks, a craft brewery fair and 40 street food traders for you to explore in between having a boogie. A great way to spend your Bank Holiday Sunday.

Sun 26th May 2024
Brockwell Park, London SE24 9BJ

Cloth Farringdon

10. Eat at This All-New Wine Bar and Restaurant

Two wine importers, Joe Haynes and Ben Butterworth, and a chef, Tom Hurst, are teaming up to open a new restaurant and wine bar in Farringdon this spring. It’s called Cloth, named after the street it’ll call home – Cloth Fair. Nestled next to some of the oldest residential buildings in London, Cloth promises to be an intimate, classic bistro with interiors that reference the building’s history.

Wed 1st – Fri 31st May 2024 (excluding Saturdays & Sundays)
44 Cloth Fair, London EC1A 7JQ