This post covers things to do in London in May, including sections on free attractions, nighttime fun, and family-friendly activities, updated for 2023.
For more ideas for any time of the year, read our master post on things to do in London.
Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.
Below, is our list of the top 10 things to do and see in London this month. Spring it one of the best times to visit the city.
Some of our other most popular posts include:
If you are considering visiting many top attractions, then you should consider a tourist discount card or a bus tour combo ticket.
1. Go to a Concert
There are lots of great concerts in London this month.
Fans of 80's music in particular will be happy to see all the major artists of that era who are performing in May.
Live Music Concerts
- Duran Duran | May 1st, 2nd
- Avril Lavigne | May 7th, 9th, 10th
- Maneskin | May 8th
- Dead Kennedys | May 16th
- Beyonce | May 29th, 30th
- Elton John | May 30th
If you love the history of music, you can take a tour of the Royal Albert Hall
For more concerts, see who else is playing in London this month.
2. Attend a Sports Event
This month you can choose from football (soccer) matches, Premier League Darts, and even a basketball playoff.
Seeing a sports event is a family-friendly thing to do, and night games make for a great evening out in London.
Below you can find events taking place in May:
Also, in football, England plays Brazil to find the winner of the first Women's Finalissima. The match takes place at Wembley on May 6th.
3. Enjoy the Theatre
London’s West End offers a range of shows - from classic, long-running musicals to new, modern plays.
There's something for everyone - just take a look here at the many theatre productions in London this month.
- & Juliet
- Les Miserables
- The Book of Mormon
- TINA: The Tina Turner Musical
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Pretty Woman the Musical
- The Lion King
- Dirty Dancing
- Phantom of the Opera
- Six the Musical
- Heathers the Musical
TIP: If you’re looking for cheap theatre tickets, check out our handy discount ticket guide to London theatre.
4. Go Sightseeing in Spring
If you’re visiting London in May, you may want to think about taking a sightseeing tour.
With the weather warming up, this is an excellent time to go on one of our pay-what-you-wish walking tours.
We offer tours all over the city, including outings that focus on subjects like Harry Potter and night tours like Jack the Ripper.
These bus and boat cruises take you past all of the big landmarks, places such as the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, Picadilly Circus, Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey, and much, much more.
Read our post Hop-On-Hop-Off London Bus Tours for more information.
5. Think About Getting a Tourist Pass
Now that it’s likely to be nice and warm outside, there will be even more of a reason to visit the most popular attractions in London.
If you plan on seeing a lot of sites, it’s worth noting that you can save money on general admission prices by using a London tourist pass.
Here are some of the best attractions to see in May that is included with at least one discount pass in London:
- View from the Shard
- The London Zoo
- Kew Gardens
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
- Madame Tussauds
- The London Eye
- London Bike Tours
- Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tours
- London Boat Tours
- Wembley Stadium Tour
- Buckingham Palace
- Tower Bridge
- and more!
These are just a handful of the activities you can enjoy at a pretty sizeable discount by using a city pass.
Learn more about this savings opportunity, from our full post covering London tourist passes.
6. Try London's Best Eats on a Food Tour
There is a lot of great food to eat in London, and May is a great time of year to explore the city and look for the best restaurants.
If you want some help finding the most delicious eats, consider taking one of our pay-what-you-wish food tours.
We offer several outings that cover a variety of different foods and neighborhoods in the city.
We also offer self-guided food tours. These outings are entirely free to enjoy and you can do them at your own pace.
7. Watch the Coronation of King Charles III
King Charles III, the 40th sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, will be coronated on Saturday, May 6th at Westminster Abbey.
London is sure to be awash with collectibles, decor, and music, all in celebration of the new King.
On May 7th there will be a Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle and "several thousand pairs of tickets will be released".
In fact, during the concert several of London's best-known locations with be illuminated. There will even be some drone displays!
Note that Monday, May 8th, will be one of the UK's bank holidays, although it's expected that many shops tourists might visit will remain open.
The King's coronation will surely be an event to remember.
If you can't attend these events, on another day you could take a tour of landmarks connected to the new King. The Coronation will take place at Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London has the Crown Jewels, and many royals have lived in and had their offices at Kensington Palace.
8. Experience the Street Art of London
London is one of the world’s premier cities to view street art and there is no better place to see it than in London’s East End.
World-renowned artists as well as the anonymous hit the London streets to put up some of the most impressive pieces of artwork.
9. Explore Harry Potter’s London
Lovers of the Harry Potter series will adore London! Regardless of your age - young and old- our pay-what-you-like guided Harry Potter London Film Location Tour.
If you want to explore on your own, try our self-guided tour of Harry Potter London locations.
10. RHS Chelsea Flower Show
The world’s most prestigious flower show takes place this month.
It showcases blooms, blossoms, and greenery from all across the United Kingdom arranged by international landscape architects.
It takes place at the Royal Chelsea Hospital from May 22nd - 27th, 2023.
- Tuesday - Friday | 8 am - 8 pm
- Saturday | 8 am - 5:30 pm
TIP: You can see beautiful floral arrangements for free this month at the Chelsea in Bloom Festival, listed just below in our things to do for free section.
11. Attend a Music Festival
London comes alive with music festivals in May. Just a few of them are:
Highways - A Festival of Country & Americana | May 20th
The Highways Festival brings country music starts to Royal Albert Hall. It features such musical arts as Morgan Wade, Jackson Dean, Kip Moore, and others.
Cross the Tracks Jazz Festival | May 28th
The Cross the Tracks Jazz Festival brings a diverse lineup of musical artists to Brockwell Park. This year you'll find artists such as Kelis, NxWorries, Alfa Mist, and others.
Wide Awake Festival | May 27th
Wide Awake, an environmentally conscious independent music festival, celebrates up-and-coming musicians and DJs in the Post-Penk, Electronica, and Techno arenas. Events take place at Brockwell Park and this year features folks such as: Alex G, Daniel Avery, and Caroline Polachek.
Pub in the Park | May 12th-14th
Pub in the Park is a food and music festival taking place in Wimbledon Park.
It pulls some big names in the food world, people such as Ainsley Harriot. Live music includes such musical acts as Bananrama.
There will also be a chef's demo to help you create a menu, cocktails, pop-up restaurants, a BBQ Firepit, a bookshop, and more.
For tickets and additional information, visit the Pub in the Park website.
12. Visit London Parks and Gardens
London parks are at their loveliest in the springtime, and there are plenty of activities to be found in them.
Below are just a few of the parks you will be sure to enjoy if you spend a few hours in them.
The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, is not one simple garden. It is a cornucopia of flora from all over the world and from all climates and habitats. You'll also find Kew Palace, a Great Pagoda, and an interactive children's garden.
Kew was put on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO and is now open to the public all year round.
Our post Kew Gardens London Tickets will help you plan your trip.
Opened for the first time in 1835, the park has since evolved to contain the London Zoo, Queen Mary’s Gardens, an outdoor theatre, sports pitches (rugby, softball, football AND cricket!), and numerous statues, memorials, and fountains.
It's also home to the Open Air Theatre, one of the largest theatres in London. Since 1932 it has put on stage plays. Click here for the 2023 season lineup.
Our post Things to Do in Regent's Park will give you a guide to this stunning park.
St. James Park
Named after a leper hospital that stood on the site in the Medieval period and stretching over 23 hectares (53 acres), St. James’s Park is the oldest of all the Royal Parks of London
In the center of the park is a stretch of water spanned by a bridge that provides stunning views of Buckingham Palace, and that contains Duck Island, home to beautiful and varied waterfowl, including the swans - property of the Queen - who call St. James's Park home.
Sitting adjacent to Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens is one of the most beautiful parks in the city. Once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens are now part of the Royal Parks of London and are open to the public.
Containing a palace, the Serpentine Gallery, the Albert Memorial, the Peter Pan Statue, numerous statues, picturesque fountains, and two bodies of water, Kensington Gardens are a great place to explore.
Check out our post on Things to See and Do in Kensington Gardens!
For information on many other parks in the city, read our post London's Beautiful Parks and Gardens.
The following section will provide a variety of fun things you can do for free in London throughout the month of May.
Don’t forget to check our other sections for ideas like going to the Canalway Cavalcade, taking a free walking tour or food tour, or enjoying the free events during the All Points East festival.
Free Flower Show
Chelsea in Bloom is a great free alternative to the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show (listed above).
From May 22nd - June 2nd Chelsea's streets are beautified with decorative floral displays.
It is totally free to enjoy! Chelsea is a wonderful neighborhood to visit at any time.
Attend London Craft Week
This free annual event celebrates the talents of over 750 "established and emerging makers, designers, brands and galleries".
Events take place at over 200 locations including pop-ups, museums, boutiques, studios, and more.
You can find workshops and products covering embroidery, glasswork, furniture making, perfume making, and many other arts.
If you have a passion for craftsmanship and would like to attend the event, it runs from August 8th-13th.
Visit the London Craft Week website for a program line-up.
Visit the Bank of England
The Bank of England Museum is really one of London’s hidden gems and it is free to visit!
The museum tells the history of the Bank of England through first-hand accounts and fascinating artifacts – including a real solid gold bar.
TIP: This museum is located within walking distance from the end of our Old City of London Tour, making this a perfect addition to your City of London experience!
See the Changing of the Guard
The spring is an excellent time to watch one of the most popular ceremonial activities in all of London.
This well-known event at Buckingham Palace takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. There are several great viewing locations to consider.
You can find out more about when to come and where to watch on our post covering the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
The Changing of the Guard is actually included in our pay-what-you-wish Westminster walking tour!
Watch the Changing of the LifeGuard
Every day at 10:30 am (9:30 am on Sunday), the Changing of the Queen’s Life Guards begins outside of Hyde Park Barracks.
Mounted on well-groomed horses, these guards ride in the Horse Guards Parade to the guard changing ceremony.
There are no barriers between you and the guards, so you will have plenty of fantastic opportunities to see the horses and watch the parade for free.
See the State Opening of Parliament
This is one of the most important events of the parliamentary year, and it takes place in May.
During the celebration, the King will be traveling in a traditional carriage procession through Westminster, and visitors are welcome to come and watch.
Good spots to get a glimpse of his majesty are along The Mall and Whitehall.
NOTE: Since some of the roads in the area will likely be closed off, consider taking the tube to Westminster Station right near the event.
You can find more no-cost activities from our post on free things to do in London.
In this section, we will cover some of the best activities to enjoy after the sun goes down in London this May.
Take a look at our other sections for even more great evening ideas such as going to a concert, seeing a musical, or attending a nighttime sports event.
For even more great ideas, make sure to read our full post covering things to do at night in London.
See an Open-Air Theatrical Performance
When the weather gets better, the performances in London move outside! Shows usually begin at 7:30 pm.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has different productions throughout the summer. See their schedule to find out what is on this month.
Tickets start at just £5 per person, so this can be a pretty affordable activity. Keep an eye out for their “midnight matinee” dates.
Take a Night Tour
Our great tours don’t just run during the day – we have them at night as well! Walk in the footsteps of the world’s most famous serial killer on our Jack the Ripper Tour.
Get to grips with the dark side of history and ghostly legends on our Dark Side of London Ghost Tour.
Alternatively, you could also enjoy the sights along the River Thames as London lights up for the evening on our Twilight on the Thames Night Tours which will be returning again this May.
If you’ve been on your feet all day and you don’t feel like taking a walking tour, consider a night bus tour instead.
This section will include several fun things to do with your kids in London this month.
Check our other sections for additional ideas like visiting attending the Canalway Cavalcade, going to a WWE event, or taking a Harry Potter tour.
For even more great ideas, take a look at our full post about visiting London with kids.
May Fayre & Puppet Festival
On May 14th, 2023, the annual May Fayre festival celebrates the birthday of Mr. Punch!
NOTE: Tickets to St. Paul’s Cathedral are included with most major London tourist passes.
Ride the Stratford Slide
This is the world’s highest and longest tunnel slide, located within the UK’s tallest public artwork. Its full name is the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
The slide takes guests from the observation tower at the top, 12 circles throughout the curves on the structure, and all the way to the bottom in a 40-second trip!
- Ticket Prices: £12.50/Adults | £7.50/Kids | £10.50/Seniors Students
- Ticket Prices: £34.00/Family
- Location: The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
- Must be at least 1.3 m tall
- Purchase tickets or learn more.
NOTE: This attraction is included with the London Pass.
Take the Harry Potter Tour at Warner Bros Studio
This tour includes access to several sets from the film, and they’re actually expanding the tour this spring to include Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
Ticket Prices from £43/Adults | £35/Children. Purchase tickets or learn more.
For those on a budget, we offer a pay-what-you-wish Harry Potter walking tour which covers a lot of notable shooting locations around London.
Ride the London Eye
May weather should bring plenty of clear days offering spectacular views from this famed Ferris wheel.
The Eye costs a bit, though it is certainly worth a visit. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to save money on admission.
For additional details, please read our full post about visiting the London Eye.
You can find even more ideas from our post on things to do with kids in London.