Things To Do

Jason Allen 30/04/24

46 Brilliant Things To Do In London | May 2024 Edition

Your May Agenda | The Best Of London, May 2024

May is upon us, which means that a) the weather is going through its traditional seasonal puberty and hitting us all with a wild mood swing and b) everyone and their cousin is taking advantage of the mercury’s fickle whims by putting on a bunch of amazing events.

That means we can expect everything from an ethereal gig in a candlelit glasshouse from one of the city’s best jazz bands; to a striking neon makeover for an iconic 200 year old building; a festival that involves tortilla slap fights & no-hands eating contests; a pop up restaurant from a truly bonkers Swedish restaurant (with “four Michelin Stars” apparently); and a nice place to have cocktails on the beach. By the Thames.



1) Peckham Fringe | Cheap, fun, interesting shows

Peckham’s getting a fringe theatre festival, and it won’t just be productions of Hairspray. In fact, you likely won’t have seen any of these shows before, because Peckham Fringe is all about platforming new writing and rising talent. And it’s proved such a hit, it’s now back for a third year. There’s everything from musicals and poetry to clowning, stand-up & theatre, and tickets are all between a fiver and a tenner.

Details: 1st May – 8th June | Theatre Peckham, 221 Havil Street, London SE5 7SB | £5-£10

2) Between The Bridges | A 4,000 sq ft festival of fun, now with Crazy Boules

crazy boules

Between The Bridges can most boringly be described as a “really big beer garden” but should more accurately be described as “a massive, free to enter al fresco adult playground which fuses a smorgasbord of bars and street food with DJs, live music, drag brunches and special events; all packed into four different dining areas right by the Thames.” And this year it can add the eclectic sport of Crazy Boules to its portfolio of fun…

Details: Opens 2nd May | Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1

3) Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre | Play outdoors

Here’s some dramatic news: the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is back open for business this month. Surprisingly for its size – it seats a cool 1,253 – it’s a place you wouldn’t really stumble across unless you knew it was there. Hidden away in a grassy corner of Regent’s Park, it’s a sprawling outdoor stage surrounded by a canopy of trees and rows of amphitheatre-style seating, that all allows for the kind of mind-blowing staging that’s hard to get inside…

Details: 3rd May – 21st September | Inner Circle, Regent’s Park, NW1 4NU | £15+

4) The World Press Photo Exhibition | Stunning images in Borough Market

The World Press Photo Exhibition is, perhaps ironically, not a very snappy name – but the images themselves are amazing. They’re a collection of the world’s best press photographs, and they’re going to embark on a 60+ city tour across the globe after debuting right here in London.

Details: 3rd-27th May | Borough Yards | Dirty Lane, SE1 9AD | £5

5) Queen’s Yard Summer Party | 100+ DJs across 20 venues

Okay, so this is more of a festival than a party. And it takes place across the whole of Hackney Wick instead of just in Queen’s Yard. And the whole ‘summer’ thing definitely needs to calm down. But despite not one word of the name being technically accurate, it still absolutely nails the vibe. Expect 100+ DJs across dozens of excellent venues to help kick off an absolutely killer Bank Holiday weekend.

Details: 4th May | Across Hackney Wick | £62+

6) Whodunnit [Unrehearsed] | A murder mystery with a twist

whodunnit [unrehearsed]

The team behind Whodunnit [Unrehearsed] have found a way to put on a show without the hassle of doing rehearsals for it, and made it into a selling point. Laziness or genius? Maybe it’s both. But either way it looks amazing, and will probably sell out. The idea is that it’s a murder mystery with a twist, in that new celebrity guests star as the detective each night (Benedict Cumberbatch, Gillian Anderson, ec.), without having seen a script beforehand. Hilarity ensues.

Details: Until 4th May 2024 | Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP | £15 (standing), £57-£100 (sitting)

7) Gypsy Jazz Festival | Django with the flow

For those who don’t know it, Gypsy Jazz is a swinging, lively, and spirited style that basically grabs your feet and makes them tap – and the Gypsy Jazz Festival is returning to town this month a whole bunch of great acts at venues across London.

Details: 6th-12th May | At jazz clubs across London

8) The World Photography Awards | A highly controversial photography show

The fight against burning oil wells, Kuwait oil fields, 1991. © Sebastião Salgado

Juicy Controversy Alert: last year’s winner of the World Photography Awards turned out to be AI generated. The organisers tried to give the award to the photographer anyway. He refused to accept it. It was something of a kerfuffle. Anyway, everyone’s going to be scrutinising the images on show this year verrrry carefully to make sure there was a pulse involved. But whatever the case, they’ll be absolutely stunning…

Details: Until 6th May 2024 | Somerset House | £15

9) The Nash Sessions At Kew | Hear Ronnie Scott’s Band In A Candlelit Glasshouse

The Nash Conservatory in Kew is a rather unique building. It was originally built in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, and was moved, brick by brick, to Kew in 1836. It’s small, intimate, and entirely made out of glass. And there’s going to be a trio of candlelit concerts there, kicking off this month with the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars…

Details: 9th May (Ronnie Scott’s All Stars), 6th June (The Hygge Trio) and 17th October 2024 (Asaka Quartet) | Kew Gardens, Kew, TW9 3AE | £40

10) Big Birthday Weekend Late and Light Show | The National Gallery’s 200th Birthday

Despite not looking a day over 180, the National Gallery is indeed about to turn 200. And to celebrate, they’re throwing on a big ol’ weekend of events, including a huge Jools Holland concert, and a spectacular light show projected onto the building itself.

Details: 10th May | The National Gallery | Free

11) Embassy Gardens Drive In Cinema | Vintage cars, classic films

This month, Battersea’s Embassy Gardens are not only hosting a drive-in cinema (a rare occasion in itself), but they’re also providing an impressive line-up of vintage hot rods for you to sit in. We’re talking glossy 50s motors and open-top 20s race-cars; stylish E-type Jags from the 60s; vintage Jeeps; 80s Porsche convertibles; the lot. And you can lean back in them and watch the Lion King, Star Wars: A New Hope. From Russia With Love, and more…

Details: 11th May | The Embassy Gardens Drive-In Cinema, 3 Viaduct Gardens, London SW11 7AY | £8.83 (picnic), £140 (car hire)

12) Hot Sauce Society | The real fire festival

Holding a festival dedicated purely to hot sauce takes a lot of bottle. But such is the thirst and devotion of Londoners to hot sauce that the Hot Sauce Society is bringing back their annual heat-loaded hoopla to Peckham’s Copeland Park this month. You’ll find 40+ traders, street food, a spicy limbo, and a unique take on karaoke…

Details: 11th May, 11am-7pm | Unit 8, Copeland Park Estate, 133 Copeland Rd, London SE15 3SN | £2

13) Pint Of Science | Beers & brains, together at last

The idea behind Pint Of Science is pretty simple: a bunch of researchers will descend upon the nation’s pubs to share pints with people and tell them about the work they’re doing. And in London, you’ll find astronauts, neuroscientists, AI researchers, psychedelic pharmacologists, and many, many more brain-jockeys at pubs across the city.

Details: 13th-15th May | Pubs Across London | £5

14) We’re Holding A Talk On Chaos, Randomness & Fate | With Dr Brian Klass

If you could rewind your life to the very beginning and then press play, would everything turn out the same? How much are our lives—and our societies—governed by chance and randomness? And why do the tiniest changes sometimes produce ripple effects that alter the course of our lives, or of history, forever?

Those are questions that Dr Brian Klaas will be wrangle into a witty, fascinating, even uplifting discussion at our next Nudge Talk, taking place on May 14th in the beautiful co-working and events space, Kindred.

Details: 14th May | Kindred, Bradmore House, Queen Caroline St, W6 9BW | £15

15) Viola’s Room | A immersive show feat. Helena Bonham Carter

Punchdrunk are the O.G.s of the immersive theatre scene, having basically invented it. And Viola’s Room was the first show they ever did. It was named The Moon Slave back then, and only four people saw it. Well, now that the remake it being narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, they’ll probably see a slight uptick on that number…

Details: 14th May – 18th August | The Carriageworks, 5 Carriage Street, SE18 6DJ | £28.50

16) London Craft Week | Hundreds of fascinating workshops, talks, and classes

This year’s lineup at LCW will see 750+ makers from around the globe converge on the capital to show off their nimble-fingered talents. There are events taking place across the entire city, from east to west and north to south. You can take in everything from a talk on the art of sword making, to a perfume blending workshop, and a look inside Christian Louboutin’s workshop, and more…

Details: 15th-19th May | Across London

17) Photo London | The UK’s largest photography show

It may be called Photo London, but that’s really only a snapshot of what this exhibition’s all about. It’s the largest photography festival in the UK, and for the four day stretch over the 16th-19th May, it’s returning to fill Somerset House’s courtyard with a marquee housing hundreds upon hundreds of the world’s most inspiring stills for you to peruse…

Details: 16th-19th May | Somerset House | £35

18) Sarnie Party | A sandwich festival

Get bready – a sandwich festival is rolling into town this month. It’s called Sarnie Party, and it’s got some genuinely huge names in the sandwich world lining up: Pophams, Happy Endings, Untiles Sandwich Shop, Snackbar, Mondo Sando, and a lot more. It’s going down in Camden Town Brewery, and your ticket will net you a beer, plus a trio of sandwiches of your choice. Ironically, it’s looking like it’ll be anything but sub-standard.

Details: 17th-19th May | Camden Town Brewery Beer Hall | £30 (incl. 1x beer & 3x sandwiches)

19) The Podcast Show | Create some ear candy

If you’ve ever though to yourself ‘boy, I sure am entertaining, and am frankly doing the world a disservice by not hosting my own podcast’ then the Podcast Show is for you. You’ll see dozens and dozens of speakers sharing podcasting wisdom, and there’ll be networking events to help ups confirm just how your crazily witty your bantz is.

Details: 22nd-23rd May | The Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, N1 0QH | £89+

20) REVERB by The Vinyl Factory | At 180 Strand

The Vinyl Factory literally is a vinyl factory, pressing records and making albums. They then decided to become a record label. And after that, they branched out into collaborations with visual artists too, putting on a spectacular show at 180 Strand in 2017 that pulled in +100k people. And now, they’re bringing it back, working with over 100 artists & musicians to produce mind-blowing music-related installations, performances, movies, and more…

Details: 22nd May 2024 — 28th September 2024 | 180 Strand | £20

21) The Tacover | Tacos, tastings & tortilla slap fights

The Tacover is, at least according to the show runners, the largest taco festival in the UK. And considering that they specialise in tortilla slap fights, viper taco challenges (which involves a hot sauce that tastes like the surface of the sun), and no-hands eating contests… we’re not inclined to argue with them. Plus, the tacos are price-caped at just £4, and it all takes place in a brewery. What’s not to love?

Details: 25th & 26th May | Signature Brew Blackhorse Road | Free, get tickets here

22) Dairy Disloyal by Minor Figures | Partner Content

minor figures

Minor Figures are basically oat milk royalty, and their Barista Oat label is used across London’s creme de la creme of coffee shops. And this spring, they’ve put together a Dairy Disloyalty campaign that’s basically a fun, delicious, coffee-based treasure hunt. They’ve partnered up with half a dozen truly great London coffee shops (Ozone, Milk, Pophams, etc) to offer anyone keen to swap out their regular dairy-based coffee for their Barista Oat a ‘disloyalty card’ – stamp off all six venues, and you’ll be in the running for some slick sounding prizes, including limited-edition vintage Japanese style bowling shirts, and a bespoke La Marzocco home coffee machine worth £5k. Participating London stores include Milk (Balham); Formative Coffee (Victoria); Pophams (London Fields); Pavilion (Truman Site); District (Nine Elms); and Ozone (London Fields).

Details: 30th May – 13th June 2024 | Across London

23) Roof East | Raising the games

For the past few months, life in Stratford has been roofless. Or rather, Roof East-less. But no more, thanks to the return of this bunting-strewn outdoor oasis filled with high-altitude games, cocktails and deep-fried cookie dough. Expect crazy golf, neon-lit bowls, batting cages, cocktails, an open-air cinema, and a lot more.

Details: Throughout May | Floors 7 & 8, Stratford Multi-Storey Car Park, E15 1XE | Free entry

24) TT Cinema | Cult Films & Cocktails

What with the cocktail bar housed in the old Victorian police cells, the rooftop restaurant, the rare bottle shop, the cocktail workshop and the rooftop bar, it might have escaped your attention that TT Liquor also has its own tiny little cinema, too. So consider this a timely reminder that if you can snag one of its 50-odd seats, you’ll be treated to a cult film (this month’s flicks include Akira, Chef, The Warriors, The Life Of Brian, Starship Troopers, etc.) and a themed cocktail to go with it.

Details: Throughout May TT Liquor, 17b Kingsland Road, E2 8AA £15

25) Check out an Exhibition

As much as you probably love staring at your own walls, there are some pretty first-class bricks propping up the ceilings of London’s many galleries. And here’s what’s adorning them this month… Check out our guide to the best exhibitions in London right now.

26) Go To The Theatre

You may laugh. You may cry. You may throw up, or potentially do all three. See The Best Shows On At The Theatre Now



27) Aaron Potter @ The Naughty Piglets | He’s a wizard too

Having lost its head chef, the Naughty Piglets has decided to hog everyone else’s in a strong of kitchen residencies. Hitting the pans the May is Aaron Potter, whose CV is studded with Michelin star outfits like Trinity and Elystan Street, where he was head chef. And ahead of opening his first solo restaurant, Wildflowers, this summer, he’s flexing his culinary muscle here with dishes like wild garlic moules farci, and grilled sweetbreads with tzatziki and cuttlefish rice.

Details: Starts April 30th | Naughty Piglets, 28 Brixton Water Lane, SW2 1PE

28) Ruben’s Reubens @ Peckham Arches | Stellar BBQ in a beautiful space

Ruben Dawnay’s ongoing pop-up in Brixton Village, Ruben’s Reubens, is still drawing queues months after opening – and now he’s dropping into Peckham Arches for the summer with a menu of smoked meats and BBQ’d veg. His signature meat platter is loaded with a smoked 1/4 chicken, lamb sausage, and pulled pork shoulder, while over in the veggie corner there’s charred hispi cabbage, smoked oyster mushrooms, and BBQ cauliflower – all served with charred flatbread, pickles and mustard BBQ sauce. Oh, and tiramisu.

Details: Opens 1st May | Peckham Arches, Blenheim Grove, SE15 4QN

29) The BBQ Club | Interactive multi-course menus by the river

Jimmy Garcia, prince of pop ups, tycoon of temporary restaurants, baron of BBQs, is back. His BBQ Club tends to sell out every year, and because he’s not a total idiot, he’s bringing it back. He’s returning to his tried & tested spot on the Southbank, where the Thames-side venue will be split into two distinct areas, a sit down restaurant overlooking the river (with an interactive BBQ build into every table), and a street food space downstairs…

Details: 3rd May – 20th September | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

30) Punk Royale | Bonkers Swedish chefs at Carousel

Punk Royale are a lot of things, but they are not forgettable. These guys do absolutely bonkers, big, brash, inventive, loud, in-you-face and in-your-mouth type dining experiences in their native Seden. Of the many, many courses you get, you’ll have ingredients like caviar, lobster, and truffle variously served to you on your hand, syringed onto your tongue, and cooked by the table while loud music pumps through the room, and lots of booze (some served in petrol cans) is poured into your glass. Believe it or not, they tend to polarise opinion. According to them, they have “four Michelin Stars”. And believe it or not, they also tend to sell out their supperclubs quickly.

Details: 4th May | Carousel, 19-23 Charlotte Street | £195

31) Lucky & Joy x The Tamil Prince | 10 courses of Indo-Chinese food

Indian food? Delicious. Chinese food? Also delicious. Indo-Chinese food? Going out on a limb here, but probably delicious. The 10-course menu being served up at the Lucky & Joy x The Tamil Prince pop up will involve dishes like masala prawn toast, biang biang noodles in curry sauce, grilled chicken and tiger salad, and mango lassi soft serve, all comfortably next to each other.

Details: 5th & 6th May | Lucky & Joy, 95 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NP | £45

32) Bubbledogs | Hot dogs & champagne in 45 Park Lane

Hot dogs & champagne. That was the simple, brilliant, and boujie idea behind Bubbledogs. But that bubble was sadly burst by the pandemic, an injustice that the restaurant gods are now looking to briefly remedy with a pop up in the summer terrace at 45 Park Lane. You’ll get lobster hot dogs, A5 Wagyu hot dogs, and even chocolate & cinnamon brioche hot dogs, all washed down with some decadent bubbly.

Details: 10th May – 29th September 2024 | 45 Park Lane, W1K 1PN

33) Rice Paddy x King & Co | Northern Thai cooking in South London

The King & Co has ushered in Rice Paddy to take over the kitchen for six weeks from. If you missed him at Bottle + Rye (perfectly understandable, as it was almost always booked solid), just know that Paul Asher’s homage to Northern Thai cooking is a force to be reckoned with. Here he’ll be cooking up a weekly changing curry alongside signature hits like whisky smoked ribs; hot dogs with homemade Sai Oua sausages; oyster mushroom satay; and laab spiced fries…

Details: Throughout May | The King & Co, 100 Clapham Park Road, SW4 7BZ

34) TÓU | A Katsu sand pop up from the team at TĀTĀ Eatery

The team behind the lauded TĀTĀ Eatery have revived TÓU, a specialist pop-up dedicated to Japanese katsu sandos. You can just picture the menu now… because the picture above literally is the menu. They literally do one main dish. But with Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng at the helm – and a killer selection of sparkling natural wines to wash it down – you can bet they do it extremely well.

Details: Throughout May | Upstairs at The Globe Tavern, 8 Bedale Street, Borough, SE1 9AL

35) Untapped at The Sea, The Sea | £75 tasting menus from rising star chefs

The Sea, The Sea have decided to lend their beautiful alien steampunk spaceship style chef’s table space to some up & coming chefs. And by ‘up & coming’ they mean people like Ezra Dobie (of The Sea, The Sea’s chef’s table), Nick Marsden (Dovetale), and James Sharp (Restaurant 1890)… But the best bit? The full tasting menu is only £75, which is a bargain for what you’re getting…

Details: 5th, 19th, 26th May | The Sea, The Sea, 337 Acton Mews, E8 4EA | £75

36) Dost | Indian comfort food in Notting Hill

The folks at Dost like to occasionally take over Notting Hill’s Eggbreak cafe, and turn it into a little supperclub serving Indian comfort food. That means prawn naan toast, crab samosa, coal-cooked tamarind tomahawk steaks, butter chicken, masala fries & gravy, you name it. Dost thou fancy it?

Details: 3rd May | Eggbreak, 30 Uxbridge St, W8 7TA

37) Uncle Hon’s | China meets Texas meets your mouth

Luk Man Hon used to sell second-hand records, and he was perfectly happy doing that. Then, he happened to pass through Texas on business, ate some BBQ there, and decided that was now what he wanted to do with his life. So he came back to the UK, bought a smoker, and set to work. Now he has his own residency at All My Friends, and it’s returning this month…

Details: Throughout May | All My Friends, Unit 1, Hamlet Estate, 96 White Post Ln, E9 5EN

38) Black Cactus BBQ | Ludicrously huge burgers in a brewery taproom

Popping up at the Exhale brewery taproom as of this month, Black Cactus are an old school, Texas-style BBQ outfit who make everything that can in-house using sustainable techniques, and higher welfare meat. The end result? Oak-smoked, dry-aged, ex-dairy cow rib cap & brisket burgers topped with the likes of smoked ox cheek, bourbon ketchup, and red miso, as well as huuuuge BBQ platters covered in a small farmyard’s worth of meat.

Details: Until October | Exhale Brewery Taproom, Blackhorse Road E17

39) Fat Whyte Slims | A preorder only, weekend burger bar from Whyte Rushen

When Whyte Rushen does a burger bar, he smashes it. And that’s not just a semi-intentional pun on the smash-burger he’s serving (alongside ones with prawn patties & grilled pineapple, or pork with hot sin Bbq & crispy seaweed), but it’s mostly about the fact that he’s serving a – get this – burnt Basque cheesecake milkshake spiked with rum. Oh yes.

Details: Weekends in May | Unit 3, 143 Mare St, E8 3RH

40) Ixta Belfrage at The Standard | Border-Flitting Food From A Lauded Chef

ixta belfrage at the standard

Ixta Belfrage’s running a pop up in The Standard hotel’s gorgeous ground floor restaurant & terrace, featuring some of the best dishes she’s come up with during her storied career, which has seen her write cookbooks, run the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen, and put on some ludicrously good supperclubs. Taking inspiration from her family heritage, it’s a concise menu of dishes that, while short, impressively manages to incorporate Brazilian, Italian and Mexican influences…

Details: Until 22nd June | The Standard London, 10 Argyle Street, King’s Cross, WC1H 8EG | Book here

41) Lee Westcott at Bottle + Rye | The Typing Room Chef Comes To Brixton

Lee Westcott’s got so many awards and accolades under his belt, he’s going to need another belt just to hold the old one up. The former Typing Room chef cut his teeth at the likes of Noma, Per Se and Restaurant Tom Aikens; scored rave reviews for his solo debut; and comfortably won a Michelin star within 7 months for his Herefordshire restaurant Pensons. The only thing he doesn’t have, currently, is a place to cook. So while he’s scouting out the perfect site for his next project (an East London pub, apparently), he’s cooking up a French feast at Bottle + Rye for the next six weeks or so. Expect anchovies on toast; aged sirloin tartare; and hearty bouillabaisse to share.

Details: Until end of May (ish) | 404-406 Market Row, Brixton, SW9 8LF | Book here

42) Tiella at the Compton Arms | Italian food in a classic North London boozer 

The Compton Arms always gets in great residencies. The last two – Four Legs and BELLY – both impressed massively, so they took a slight risk with Tiella because a) it’s not named after a body part, which seems to be the theme here, and b) it’s the debut of Italian chef Dara Klein, who has not yet helmed her own restaurant. But luckily, it turns out that she almost literally grew up in her family’s restaurant kitchen, and soaked up experience the whole time, then worked her way up through the ranks at places like Brawn, Trullo, and Sager + Wilde. So – surprise surprise – that risk has paid off…

Details: Throughout May (Weds-Sun) | Compton Arms, 4 Compton Avenue, London, N1 2XD



43) Fulham Beach Club | Drink cocktails with sand… between your toes

The Fulham Beach Club is back, giving you an opportunity to visit the beach in your winter coat and drink cocktails, play shuffleboard, and go to a Mean Girls themed brunch party.

Details: Throughout May | Wandsworth Bridge, Wandsworth Brg, SW6 2TY | £5+

44) Bar Night at Novelty Automation | Pop up bar in a surreal arcade 

novelty automation

Novelty Automation has some truly weird arcades. There’s a Money Laundering cash drop, an ‘Auto Frisker’ that will pat you down like a mechanical bouncer, and a ‘Small Hadron Collider’ among many others. It’s like satire meets surrealism meets stainless steel. And for one night a month, there’s a pop up bar there too.

Details: 2nd May, 5-9pm | 1a Princeton St, Holborn, WC1R 4AX

45) Prelude | A pop up bar from the team at Oriole


Oriole, the excellent cocktail bar & live music venue that spent three years in the World’s 50 Best List, is coming back later this year. But before that, it’s running a three month popup called Prelude to road-test some new ideas (like a food menu, for one) and pave the way for the official relaunch in a gorgeous space at The Yards in Covent Garden. It’s like a teaser trailer, but for booze.

Details: Until June | 23 Slingsby Place, Covent Garden, WC2E 9AB

46) Campfire Cocktails At Midnight Apothecary | Firepits, marshmallows & cocktails

midnight apothecary pop up bar

It’s finally warm enough for Midnight Apothecary to reopen their botanical rooftop bar. You’ll start your evening in their charming fairylit urban garden, complete with salvaged garden furniture, firepits, and thriving vegetable and herb patches, and if you fancy you can take a tour of the Brunel Tunnel shaft too…

Details: Fridays & Saturdays in May (excl. 18th) | The Midnight Apothecary, Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue, London, SE16 4LF | £8

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