Things To Do in London in May

This post cover things to do in London in May, including sections on free attractions, nighttime fun, and family-friendly activities, updated for 2020.

For more ideas for any time of the year, read our master post on things to do in London.

 

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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.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN MAY

Below, is our list of the top 10 things to do and see in London this month.

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

May means the start of music festival season in all of Europe. In 2020, the annual indie-music All Points East Festival takes place in Victoria Park on May 23, 24 and May 29.

The concerts are part of a larger 10-day festival with lots of free activities all week long

There are lots of other great concerts in London this month. We list highlights beneath the video.

 

 

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 London this month.


2. Attend a Sports Event

This month you can choose from football (soccer) matches, WWE Smackdown, and the British Basketball Playoffs!

Seeing a sports event is a family-friendly thing to do. Night games make for a great evening out in London.

Below we list the best options this month but you can find more sports events this month.

 

 

Football (Soccer) – various dates

WWE Smackdown – May 8 at the 02 Arena

British Basketball Playoff Finals – May 19 at the 02 Arena

See what other sports events are happening this month.


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.

 

 

Closing at the end of this month are these two exceptional musicals. Catch them while you can!

Dear Evan Hansen is the story of a high schooler who wants to fit in but finds himself caught up in a lie so big it might disrupt all of his relationships. 

Come From Away is a heartfelt musical that was inspired by true stories of what happened and relationships that formed following the September 11 attacks.  

  • Other shows you can see this month are:
  • Prince of Egypt
  • 9 to 5 the Musical
  • Pretty Woman
  • Mary Poppins
  • The Book of Mormon
  • Disney’s The Lion King
  • Sister Act: The Musical
  • Hamilton
  • Wicked
  • Matilda the Musical
  • TINA – The Tina Turner Musical
  • Les Miserables
  • Hello, Dolly!

Check for tickets for the above shows and more.

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 which focus on subjects like Harry Potter and night tours like Jack the Ripper.

 

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Alternatively, you could also take a hop-on-hop-off bus or a London boat tour


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.

 

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Here are some of the best attractions to see in May that are included with at least one discount pass in London:

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 Easts 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.

 

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We also offer self-guided food tours. These outings are entirely free to enjoy and you can do them at your own pace.


7. Go to the Canalway Cavalcade

London’s biggest and brightest waterway festival is back on May 2-3, 2020. The free Canalway Cavalcade takes place in London’s Little Venice.

Expect longboats, live music, and food stalls. For the kiddies, there will be rides,  puppetry performances, and circus workshops, too!

 

 

Below we list many more free activities this month. And in our family-friendly section below, you can find more things to do with your kids in London this May.


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.

 

 

You could join us on one of our name your own price London Street Art and Graffiti Tours. If our schedule doesn’t match yours, you can also take a guided Street Art Tour here.


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

 

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We have several posts on finding Harry Potter sights, including how to find Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, and Platform 9 3/4.


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 19-23, 2020. Hours are 8 am – 8 pm, Tue – Fri. The show closes at 5:30 pm on Saturday, the 23rd.

Tickets are £35 and up. Purchase tickets or learn more.

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.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO

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.

 

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For more great budget-friendly activities, make sure to check our posts covering free things to do in London and London on a budget.


Free Flower Show

Chelsea in Bloom is a great free alternative to the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show (listed above), which costs £35 and above.

From May 18-23, 2020, 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. 


All Points East in the Neighborhood

As part of the All Points East Music Festival (see above in our concerts section), there will be a program of free activities including cinema, music, arts in Victoria Park from May 22-31, 2020.

The event is called All Points East In The Neighbourhood – it will be great, free fun! 


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 Life Guard

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 Queen 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 her 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.

 


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

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.

 

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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 is a pretty affordable activity. Keep an eye out for their “midnight matinee” dates.

NOTE: If you’re interested in learning about the history of the Globe theatre, they offer professionally guided tours that are included with several London tourist passes.


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. 


Hear TITANIC Performed Live

On May 30, 2020, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will perform the soundtrack to the film, Titanic at London Royal Albert Hall.

The concert is offered two times on that date, at 2 pm and 7:30 pm. 

The night performance is a good way to spend your evening, while the 2 pm show might be good to bring the whole family to.

More details and ticket purchase here.


Go on a Thames Late Cruise

This is a very memorable outdoor experience riding the waves of the River Thames. Guests are taken on a nearly hour-long boat ride (partly guided, part speedboat!)

A London Cocktail Club drink is provided in the cost of your ticket. 

  • Dates: Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in May.
  • Hours: Two departures each night at 7 pm and 8 pm.
  • Ticket cost: £43.50 per person. Must be 18 and over. Bring ID.
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

TIP: Find out about other evening cruises by reading our post covering London boat tours.


See an Art Exhibit

There are several great museums you can visit in London after dark, but two museums are of note this month.

Tate Modern will be hosting this a new Andy Warhol exhibition. The museum is open until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Tate Britain has a retrospective of Aubrey Beardsley’s scandalous drawings, with over 200 of his works. On select Fridays, the gallery is open late.

Both museums have free entry though special exhibits may cost extra.


Experience Sea Life Lates

The popular aquarium Sea Life keeps its doors open later than usual a few nights each year. This month it takes place on May 8, 2020.

During Sea Life Lates, the aquarium until 10:30 pm, giving you the chance to experience a variety of aquatic life after dark.  

This event is 21+ only, as alcoholic drinks are provided. There will be additional food and drink available for purchase. Purchase Sea Life Lates tickets.

TIP: If you prefer daylight hours, admission to Sea Life during regular hours is included with the London Explorer Pass.

Learn about more nighttime activities from our post about things to do at night in London.

 


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THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS

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 9, 2020, the annual May Fayre festival celebrates the birthday of Mr. Punch! 

This free family-friendly event takes place at St. Paul’s Catherdral and showcases traditional puppetry. There will be a brass band procession throughout Covent Garden.

NOTE: Tickets to St. Paul’s Cathedral are included with most major London tourist passes.


See 101 Dalmatians The Musical

Every summer, London’s lovely Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre puts in several productions. 

From May 16-Jun 21, 2020, you and the kids can see a musical version of the beloved story from 1956 (and film in 1961), which is actually set in Regent’s Park!

Find out more and purchase tickets.


See a Show at the Puppet Theatre Barge

The Puppet Theatre Barge puts on unique and magical puppet shows on a specially designed canal barge.

As part of the Canalway Cavalcade (see above), there is a performance on May 2 & 3, 2020.

The special show is called My Shadow and Me and is suited for kids ages 3+. Tickets are £8 per person.


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: £16.75/Adults | £10.75/Kids | £13.50/Concession
  • 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.

Tickets are included with the 2 for 1 program, the London City Pass, the London Explorer Pass, and more.

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

 


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About the author

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 15 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries.