We have two bank holidays (public holidays) this month. The Early May bank holiday has been officially moved for this year to Friday 8 May Friday 2020 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of VE Day.

VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day, marks the day towards the end of World War Two when fighting against Nazi Germany came to an end in Europe. There will be events to commemorate the date over the three-day weekend.

The Spring bank holiday is later in the month on Monday 25 May 2020. This will include a week-long school holiday so attractions will be busier.

The London Original Print Fair is at the Royal Academy from 1 to 3 May 2020, and do look out for the well-dressed participants in the Tweed Run on 2 May 2020. It’s London Wine Week 13-19 May 2020 and it’s the annual London History Day on 31 May 2020 so look out for walks and special events.

London Bridge

Genders at Science Gallery London presents a playful and kaleidoscopic view of genders and the relationship with science, as well as factors like class, culture, race, age and sexuality. The exhibition is on until 28 June 2020.

The Bridge Theatre has The Southbury Child on from 22 April to 27 June 2020. Stephen Beresford’s darkly comic new play is an exploration of family and community, the savage divisions of contemporary society and the rituals that punctuate our lives.

You can still view the OPEN 3: Urban Nature art installations at London Bridge Hotel until 31 May 2020.

And, do note, London Bridge is closed to traffic until October 2020. (This is for essential engineering works.) Pedestrians can still walk across but it will be busy at times. Buses, taxis and bicycles can cross too (although the bus stops on the bridge will be suspended). The works are on the northbound (west) side of the bridge until the end of May, then June to October on the southbound (east) side of the bridge.

To Kill A Mockingbird

Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird opens on 21 May 2020. The play had a turbulent start, with the stage adaptation initially under threat of litigation from Lee’s estate due to its portrayal of Atticus Finch. But it’s since been rewritten and is winging its way to the Gielgud Theatre with Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, The Boat That Rocked) playing the iconic role of Atticus Finch.

Somerset House

On from 14 to 17 May 2020 at Somerset House, Photo London showcases the very best of the past, present and future of international photography. It’s a fitting location as, apparently, Somerset House was where the term ‘photography’ was first used in 1839.

The Fair presents the best historic and vintage works while also spotlighting fresh perspectives in photography. There are displays from the world’s leading photography dealers and galleries, plus a Discovery section dedicated to the most exciting emerging galleries and artists.

If you enjoy seeing photographs, there’s more on display at Kensington Palace for the Life Through a Royal Lens exhibition from 15 May 2020. From the Victorian era to the twentieth century, these private photos taken by members of the Royal Family show an informal side to the monarchy. Included in the display is the infamous image of Princess Margaret posing in a bathtub wearing a Tiara alongside lesser-known images.

Shakespeare’s Globe

The summer 2020 season at Shakespeare’s Globe has started with a theme of mythic love and radical transformation.

This month you can see Romeo & Juliet and Twelfth Night. And on 9 May 2020, there’s an Audience Choice evening where you get to decide whether it’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It or The Tempest. The audience cheers and claps to vote and then the play begins.

Do remember, seeing a play at the Globe is for everyone as tickets start from just £5 for the central standing area.

Shakespeare's Globe

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

For more outdoor theatre, 101 Dalmations is on at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from 16 May to 21 June 2020.

Tate Modern

Tate Modern celebrates the 20th anniversary of its opening on Monday 11 May 2020. The day features a dedicated programme of displays and performances across the museum including the return of Louise Bourgeois’ iconic giant spider (see below).

It’s also the opening day of a special exhibition dedicated to the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. There’s a chance to experience two of her amazing and immersive Infinity Mirrored Rooms.

Tate Modern has welcomed nearly 100 million visitors since it was first officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 11 May 2000. It is now the world’s most visited museum of modern and contemporary art.

Maman, Louise Bourgeois

Wallace Collection

Opening on 20 May 2020 at the Wallace Collection you can see Rubens and his Great Landscapes. It’s a free exhibition and brings together, for the first time in over two hundred years, Peter Paul Rubens’s (1577-1640) two great masterpieces of landscape painting. The Rainbow Landscape (The Wallace Collection) and A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning (The National Gallery) were painted as a companion pair and were brought to London in 1803.

The exhibition explores these sweeping panoramic works as the culmination of Rubens’s practice as a landscape painter. It offers new insights into how they were developed as compositions through new technical imaging and photography, together with a newly commissioned documentary exploring Rubens’s work.

Rubens - The Rainbow Landscape

Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall has a fantastic Film in Concert series. This means you get to see a classic film on a huge screen with musical accompaniment from the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. On 30 May 2020, you can see James Cameron’s 1997 romantic epic Titanic Live. The music is incredibly emotive, so this should be a wonderful event. It’s available at 2pm and 7.30pm.

Westminster Abbey

On 19 May 2020, you can enjoy Monteverdi’s Vespers (1610) in the glorious surroundings of Westminster Abbey. The choir of Westminster Abbey will perform as part of the London Festival of Baroque Music 2020.

Design Museum

Opening on 6 May 2020 at the Design Museum, Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street features the world of cult classic footwear for the first time.

Divided into three parts – Performance, Street Culture and Fashion – the exhibition invites you behind the scenes and reveals the design process behind the most innovative kicks, be that self-lacing, 3D printed, made from 100% recyclables or cushioned with air bubbles.

Uncover the style icons and brand collaborations that have shaped the sneaker scene, examine the high-fashion reinvention of a streetwear staple and touch on the lucrative resale market that is currently valued at $2 billion.

Hero Image, Michaela Efford, Design Museum

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month, do have a look at last month’s recommendations as many are still valid for May too.


From 12-21 June 2020, Grace Jones will take over the UK’s largest arts centre for the longest-running artist-curated festival in the world. With her defiantly unique creative vision and a ten-day playbook of her creation, the Southbank Centre Meltdown Festival brings together artists from across the globe including Solange, Peaches, Skunk Anansie, Jimmy Cliff and Baaba Maal.

The Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition is back from 9 June to 16 August 2020. The world’s largest open submission contemporary art show is now in its 252nd year. It provides a unique platform for emerging and established artists to showcase their works to an international audience, comprising a range of media from painting, printmaking and photography, to sculpture, architecture and film. It has been held each year without interruption since 1769. Around 1200 works will go on display, the majority of which will be for sale.

The London Bridge area is celebrating Make Music Day 2020 on 21 June 2020. It’s a grassroots celebration where communities, musicians, venues and promoters collaborate to put on free music events in their local area. It’s a worldwide event (see enjoyed in 125 countries so enjoy music wherever you are.


Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. And when you can’t be at the hotel, you can try making the Quarter Bar’s cocktails with these recipes.

Laura Porter writes and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on Twitter as @AboutLondon, on Instagram as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

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