53 Things to do on early May bank holiday in London
Spring’s in full swing and London’s full of life, so make the most of this vibrant time of year by spending a part of the early May bank holiday weekend in London. There are plenty of fun activities, events and outdoor experiences to add to your bucket list.
Also, check out more ideas for the spring bank holiday later in May.
May bank holiday events
- Celebrate the return of spring at the Tulip Festival, included with entry to Hampton Court Palace: Admire a vibrant display of blooms across the palace gardens. Included in palace admission. 14 Apr-1 May
- See the brand new Crown to Couture at Kensington Palace: Discover how spectacular fashion throughout history influences what is on the red carpets today. Included in palace admission. From 5 Apr
- Or explore Style and Society: Dressing The Georgians at The Queen's Gallery: An exciting new exhibition featuring rare surviving examples of Georgian clothing. From 21 Apr
- Take the family to the exciting Zippo Circus: See hilarious clowns, impressive tumblers, daredevil motorcyclists, and much more. From 26 Apr
- Sticking with history, take a limited edition Oliver Twist Walking Tour: Follow in the footsteps of Oliver Twist and Artful Dodger through Charles Dickens' Victorian London. 29 Apr
- Enjoy an evening of entertainment on a Themed River Thames Cruise: Tuck into a three-course meal paired with either a fun murder mystery or a live Elvis tribute performance. 29 Apr
- Spend your bank holiday at the Camden Rocks All Dayer: A rock'n'roll bonanza showcasing the best new and established bands across Camden Town. 29 Apr
- Dance the night away at ABBA Voyage: A concert 40 years in the making, see the band's avatars brought to life as they perform all their chart-topping hits. Until 28 May
Fun May bank holiday activities
- Book your seat at a top London musical: Popular picks include The Lion King, magical Wicked and the iconic Phantom of the Opera.
- Treat the little ones to one of London’s top shows for kids: Or visit one of London’s dedicated children’s theatres.
- Spend the three days visiting London’s top attractions: Save time and money by buying a sightseeing pass, choose from The London Pass, the Go City London Explorer Pass and the Merlin London Attractions Pass. Check out these inspirational itineraries for more ideas.
- Discover London’s top family attractions: From the Warner Bros Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter to the historic Tower of London.
- Take in spectacular views of London from sky-high attractions: Pick from the panoramic London Eye, The View from The Shard and the IFS Cloud Cable Car.
- Or enjoy a London helicopter tour: See the city skyline on a sunny day with a scenic flight across the capital.
- Join Shakespeare's Globe Theatre's guided tours for 400 years of Shakespearean history: Or see a play, as Shakespeare’s Globe Summer Season starts in late April.
- Make it a bank holiday to remember with a luxury experience: Take time out to relax and pamper yourself or treat a loved one or bag a bargain at Bicester Village.
- Explore London on a guided walking tour: Retrace the footsteps of the world's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, or head off the beaten path on a Secret London Walking Tour.
- Cruise along the Thames on a river cruise or enjoy an open-top bus tour: Just sit back and enjoy the views day and night.
- With three days to fill, why not take a day trip from London: Visit top sights such as Stonehenge, the Cotswolds and Bath.
- Let the teens loose with Instagrammable spots, adrenaline-fuelled fun and immersive experiences: Follow our tips on things to do in London with teenagers.
- Discover a unique skill at a masterclass: Learn something new this bank holiday, from arts and crafts to cocktail-making.
- Have fun at London's top activity bars: Get together with pals for some competitive socialising.
- Or try a new immersive experience: Transport yourself into another reality at thrilling multi-sensory attractions.
Bank holiday food and drink in London
- Savour delicious dishes onboard a London dinner cruise: Admire the city's landmarks on an unforgettable journey along the river.
- Celebrate bank holiday with a traditional afternoon tea: Feast on macarons, dainty sandwiches, scones with jam and cream or try something quirkier.
- Enjoy a picnic in one of London's Royal Parks: Tuck into a tasty food hamper* from Fortnum & Mason.
- Dine at one of the capital’s family restaurants: Fuel up for more family fun in London.
- Or get together for a family catch-up in the sunshine: Many London restaurants and rooftop bars have outdoor dining areas that offer stunning views of the capital.
- Take your time with a long May bank holiday brunch in London: Go bottomless for added value – after all, you’re not in a rush…
- Venture out of zone 1 to find diverse London neighbourhoods: Try Tooting for south Asian food and quirky markets, Peckham for hipster hangouts or Highgate for green spaces and cosy pubs.
- Dine with a view at London in the Sky at Greenwich Peninsula: Feast on food and drink as you admire spectacular views of the London skyline. From 28 Apr-30 Jun
- Get a taste of London's food and drink scene: Pick the perfect drinking and dining spot to relax and enjoy your days off.
Enjoy bank holiday days out in London
- Spot spring blooms in Kew Gardens' many different landscapes: See bursts of colour from Japanese gardens to the Rhododendron Dell, which is in its prime this time of the year.
- See some of London’s most famous bridges lit up at night as part of the Illuminated River art installation: Wander the riverbanks for the perfect shot or find a unique viewpoint from an evening river cruise.
- Climb aboard the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers to see the cherry blossom trees in Greenwich: Continue the nautical theme by visiting maritime attractions including the Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum.
- Head to Richmond Park’s Isabella Plantation: Find the perfect photo opportunity among hundreds of hot pink azaleas, which are in full bloom at this time of year.
- Be surrounded by cute critters and wild landscapes at the city’s nature reserves and woodlands: Enjoy wildlife walks around the London Wetland Centre, Walthamstow Wetlands and Epping Forest.
- Check out the latest spring arrivals at city farms: And no, you can’t take any home with you!
- Visit the City of London: Discover ancient churches, traditional British pubs and modern skyscrapers topped with pretty roof gardens.
- Climb the 311 steps for views from The Monument: A short walk away you can explore the Guildhall Art Gallery for artworks, or venture into Roman temple, the London Mithraeum.
- Rub your eyes in disbelief as you check out peaceful places you’d never think were in London: From ornate Neasden Temple to quirky Crystal Palace Park.
- Discover lesser-known areas of London’s West End between shopping sprees: Soak up the relaxed vibe at St Christopher’s Place, try worldwide cuisines in Shepherd Market, or have some “me time” with yoga in St Martin’s Courtyard.
- Out with your heavy wintry coat, in with a snazzy summer dress: Revamp your look in time for summer at one of London’s best shops.
- Hunt down items of all kinds at the capital’s department stores: Enjoy some retail therapy in Selfridges, John Lewis, Liberty, Harrods and Harvey Nichols.
- See a film under the stars: Outdoor cinemas await you with a whole programme of movies to chill with.
Bank holiday markets
- Explore May bank holiday markets in London: Come across unique, second-hand and vintage items that you won't find anywhere else.
- Admire the ornate architecture of Leadenhall Market in the City of London: Browse the stalls at this picture-perfect market, a magical location in Harry Potter's London.
- Find unusual antiques and quirky collectables at Portobello Road Market: Visit one of London's oldest and most famous street markets in vibrant Notting Hill.
- Buy a beautiful bunch of flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market: Create your own bank holiday bouquet from an array of vibrant flowers.
- Browse London's Sunday markets: Hunt for bargains in the capital's colourful street markets during the bank holiday weekend.
- Eat alfresco at the historic Borough Market: Walk around and soak up the atmosphere of this foodie haven filled with high-quality produce and tasty items to try.
- Peruse the stalls of Camden Market alongside the canal: Discover an eclectic mix of goods to buy, from vintage fashion and jewellery to designer clothes and unique artwork.
- Wander around the bustling Old Spitalfields Market: Explore the original East London market, home to fashion, fabulous art and food stalls.
What is open on bank holiday in London?
Most attractions, shops and restaurants are usually open during the bank holiday weekend or open with amended times. Check with the individual venue before you go.
Some transport services may be affected, so check the latest information for Transport for London services and rail networks before you travel. You are advised to explore your local area and walk or cycle where possible.
More spring inspiration
For more weekend inspiration, find our top tips on things to do on a Saturday and Sunday in the capital. If you’re staying for longer, make sure to see what else is on during spring, including key events in May.
If you’re already in London, follow the guide to activities for today and this weekend, or download the Visit London app for on-the-go inspiration.
Stay for the whole weekend to make the most of the bank holiday vibes – discover where to stay in London.