Hello longer days, more sunshine and happy times in London this month.
London is celebrating photography across the capital throughout May, with Photo London at Somerset House as a focal point for city-wide exhibitions, and events.
From 19 to 22 May 2016, Photo London is a unique festival of photography, centred around a major international photography fair featuring over 80 exhibitors. The fair showcases the broad range of photographic practice, from vintage to contemporary. There are also talks and lectures, performances and installations.
The list of exhibitors includes galleries from Berlin, Cologne, Helsinki, Lisbon, Zurich, Tehran, Minneapolis, New York, Palm Beach, Santa Monica, Singapore, Tokyo, alongside the pick of London’s top photography galleries, with an extended ‘Discovery’ section for new and emerging galleries.
Some of London’s public museums and galleries featuring photography in May include:
Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed at the Barbican Art Gallery, Vogue 100: A Century of Style at the National Portrait Gallery and Performing for the Camera at Tate Modern.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
For Shakespeare400, the Royal Shakespeare Company and amateur companies across the UK are performing the nation’s favourite Shakespeare play in a unique production.
The Dream2016 collaboration can be seen at the Barbican Theatre from 17 to 21 May when the RSC is performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in association with Tower Theatre Company and east London schoolchildren.
London Wine Week
From 23 to 29 May, London Wine Week is on and attendees can purchase a £10 wristband to enjoy self-guided wine tours, events and tasting sessions across London.
The capital’s many knowledgeable sommeliers have put together a trail that leads intrepid drinkers on a journey to discover new grapes, varieties and vintages. The trips cover many enticing venues, including leading restaurants and small, lesser-known eateries to dusty wine vaults and renowned hotel bars.
Charles Dickens Museum
Opening on 3 May (and on until 20 November 2016), The Other Dickens: Discovering Catherine brings Catherine Dickens away from the shadow of her husband with many personal items and letters displayed here in the couple’s first family home.
Catherine Hogarth married Charles Dickens in 1836. They lived together for the next 22 years, Catherine having ten children (two of whom were born at Doughty Street) in the first sixteen of those years, as well as travelling to America and living abroad. When they separated, Charles Dickens painted a harshly negative portrait of his wife but the exhibition helps to build a more rounded picture of a Victorian woman devoted to her children and part of a lively social group, who enjoyed frequent visits to the theatre, concerts and late-night parties. Catherine was also a published writer; her popular cookbook, What Shall We Have For Dinner, ran into several editions.
The Museum has commissioned sound artist Felicity Ford to make Hearing Catherine, a collection of six new works which bring Catherine’s voice back to Doughty Street. Introduced throughout the exhibition, a subtle combination of spoken word, music and field recordings use Catherine’s own words to give her a presence and build something of the atmosphere that she would have known in the family home.
Dickens After Dark is a special evening opening of the museum on 12 May for twilight browsing.
Museums at Night
Museums at Night is on from Wednesday 11 through to Saturday 14 May 2016 and you can enjoy museums, galleries and heritage sites after hours.
On Friday 13 May, the Bank of England Museum is offering a rare opportunity for an evening visit. As well as the Museum displays, there will be presentations on banknotes, gallery talks and Bank staff will also be on hand to answer questions about gold.
Benjamin Franklin House and Dr Johnson’s House are also involved as well as Keat’s House and Banqueting House so there really is lots of choice in London.
For more evening entertainment, The Rose Playhouse has Shakespeare’s dramatic comedy Measure for Measure on from 10 to 29 May 2016.
Vincentio, the Duke of Vienna, announces he is going on a diplomatic mission and sets in his place the upright Angelo to govern by the letter of the law. The Duke disguises himself as a priest to observe him. Isabella rejects a tainted world and devotes her life to the church, only to be dragged out of a nunnery to save her brother accused of sexual misconduct. Angelo has the power to save or slaughter but could be persuaded by Isabella, posing her a moral conundrum.
Over four hundred years after its first performance Measure For Measure’s heady mix of hypocrisy, money, power, sex, religion, justice and mercy continues to resonate in a world still battling with issues of compassion and fear.
Missoni Art Colour
Opening on 6 May (and on until 4 September 2016), Missoni Art Colour is at the Fashion and Textile Museum. The exhibition showcases over 60 years of fashion alongside paintings by leading 20th century European artists, and previously unseen textile studies, paintings and Arazzi by Ottavio Missoni, founders of this distinctive international fashion brand.
If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in May 2016 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.
The new building at Tate Modern opens on 17 June with entirely new collection displays, 75% of which will have been acquired since 2000, when the main building opened.
There are more dates available to visit Parliament on most weekdays between 27 May and 3 June as well as 16/17 June and 23/24 June. These dates are in addition to the Saturday tours throughout the year and Monday to Friday summer tours between 26 July and 2 September.
The Serpentine Architecture Programme expands for 2016, with four Summer Houses joining the Serpentine Pavilion, open from 10 June.
And The Queen’s House reopens on 4 July 2016, to celebrate its 400th anniversary with refurbished galleries, including the King’s Presence Chamber and the Tulip Stairs. This beautiful royal villa was designed by Inigo Jones in 1616 for James I’s queen, Anne of Denmark, and completed around 1638 for Charles I’s queen, Henrietta Maria.
Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You can sign up for special offer alerts here. And when you can’t be at the hotel, you can try making the Quarter Bar’s cocktails with these recipes.
Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.