Whether you want to relax with a drink, riverside, dance the day away at a festival, or see a thrilling West End show, there’s plenty going on in the capital. Here’s what’s on this bank holiday weekend.
Have fun at a festival
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Wide Awake Festival in Brixton’s Brockwell Park (27 May) celebrates independent music and showcases the best of up-and-coming talent. Dance to your heart’s content to leftfield Indie, Post Punk, Electronica and Techno performers including Caroline Polachek, Alex G and Daniel Avery.
For quite a different type of festival, the Chelsea Fringe Festival in Elephant Park takes place on Saturday 27 May from 1-6pm. Expect many wholesome things to do, from botanical displays and live music to an array of free activities. Get in touch with your mystic side with a botanical tarot card reading. Or have a go at the Pressed Flower Art Workshop.
If you like your jazz, you’ll love London’s foremost Jazz, Funk & Soul festival, Cross the Tracks. Taking place in Herne Hill’s Brockwell Park on Sunday 28 May, this day festival counts MxWorries, Kelis and Ezra Collective among its headliners. Indulge in an array of delicious street food and craft beer.
Marvel at artistic treasures
Exciting news for art lovers… The Courtauld Gallery has launched Courtauld Lates, with the first instalment taking place this Friday 26 May. Unwind with a cocktail in hand to a background of DJ beats as you take in world-renowned art after dark (until 9.30pm). Catch the five-star exhibition of works by Peter Doig before it closes on 29 May. And peruse masterpieces from The Courtauld’s esteemed art collection, such as Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère.
Over at The British Museum, Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece (to 13 Aug) explores luxury as a political tool in the Middle East and southeast Europe from 550-30 BC. Expect a dazzling range of objects, from Afghanistan to Greece, including the golden Panagyurishte Treasure from Bulgaria. Learn about their political influence on Europe and Asia in the first millennium BC and how they’ve shaped our notions of luxury today.
Earlier this week, Tate Britain unveiled the first complete rehang of its collection for ten years. More than 800 works spanning six centuries now hang in the galleries, laid out chronologically from the 1500s to the present day. A host of new discoveries and additions reflect the growing diversity of Tate’s collection, including 70 works acquired in the past 5 years alone, from grand Tudor portraits to contemporary installations. Visit this weekend to see the world’s greatest collection of British art as you’ve never seen it before, for free!
Donatello (to 11 Jun) at the Victoria and Albert Museum, meanwhile, displays the sculptural works of the Renaissance master. Many pieces have never been seen before in the UK, including his early marble David. Considered to be the most gifted sculptor of all time, Donatello employed a range of materials including marble, bronze, wood, terracotta and stucco.
And for a bit of glam, Crown to Couture (to 29 Oct) at Kensington Palace takes visitors on an immersive journey through the State Apartments – transformed into London’s hottest catwalk. Discover how the trailblazing style of 18th-century nobility has inspired many of today’s most iconic red-carpet looks. Historic garments are displayed alongside outfits worn by present-day trendsetters including Lady Gaga and Lizzo.
Treat yourself to dinner out
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London is home to a plethora of incredible restaurants and drinking spots, whether you want casual, high-end or quirky!
Check out Straker’s in Notting Hill from the TikTok star chef Thomas Straker for a menu of sustainable, seasonal produce including Grilled Langoustine. Or, for a beautiful setting, try the bohemian-style Jacuzzi in Knightsbridge.
Fancy a vegan feast? The new Jam Delish in Islington is a modern Caribbean restaurant and cocktail bar offering plant-based dishes including Jackfruit and wild mushroom “oxtail” stew. And if you’re after some sun this weekend (who isn’t?), head to one of the capital’s many riverside drinking and dining spots.
Take the kids on a half-term adventure
This long weekend also marks the start of half term so give your kids a well-earned treat. Sandbox in Covent Garden, spread over two floors, is an epic VR gaming destination. Kids can get ready to be transported to another world as they experience a zombie apocalypse and go on a swashbuckling adventure. There’s even a robotic bartender on hand for the adults!
Animal lovers can delight in the Spring Family Festival at ZSL London Zoo (27 May-4 Jun). Expect arts and crafts, animal talks, interactive game shows and workshops. Check out the Tulip Tent for interactive games, or take part in one of the wellness sessions at Lilac Lounge.
See a West End show
There are always several top-notch musicals and plays begging to be seen, both on and off the West End. Here are just some of them…
Patriots (from 26 May) at the Noel Coward Theatre stars Tom Hollander, following his praiseworthy role in the award-winning HBO series, White Lotus. The play is set after the fall of the Soviet Union when oligarchs battle it out to seize control. Follow billionaire businessman Boris Berezovsky’s metamorphosis from the president’s confidant to public enemy number one.
Guys & Dolls is the riveting, immersive retelling of the legendary musical – performed in the round. Set in Manhattan and Havana’s bars, it tells the story of gangsters, gamblers and the New York underworld. Check it out for yourself at the Bridge Theatre.
Finally, catch Shirley Valentine at Duke of York’s Theatre before it closes on 3 Jun. Starring Sheridan Smith, it’s the story of a bored, middle-aged housewife trapped in a stale, loveless marriage. When her friend persuades her to go on holiday to Greece, Shirley’s life is transformed when she has a holiday romance.
Go for a stroll in one of the many green spaces
London has a staggering 3,000 parks to enjoy. As the weather is set to be beautiful this bank holiday, why not check some of them out? The Royal Parks offer several large, manicured and stunning green spaces to traverse. Whether you want to boat on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, have a picnic in Green Park or deer-watch in Richmond Park, there is something for everyone.
In addition to parks, the capital also has many beautiful gardens to explore. Perhaps the mother of all is Kew Gardens – with 500 acres of woodland it also houses the largest and most diverse botanical collection in the world. For something more low-key, check out the city’s many National Trust gardens such as those at Fenton House and Ham House.
Chelsea Physic Gardens, The Garden Museum, Kyoto Gardens and Hampton Court Palace Gardens are also all well worth a visit. For more information on our capital’s verdant offerings, check out this post.
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