May we be blessed by sunny evenings, scorching bank holidays, and all the beer gardens a Londoner can handle. The reality might end up being slightly different, but that’s certainly what Secret London will be crossing our fingers for in May 2022. It’s going to be a biiiiig month as we shake off the last of the chilly spring weather and head into the first Covid restriction-free summer since 2019, and as always, we’ve come up with the goods. So let’s dive right in to our guide to the best things to do in London this May!
‘Tis the season that London’s summer rooftops start opening, and whether your spot of choice is suntrap Skylight (pictured), adult playground Roof East, or panoramic east London spot Netil 360, you’re sure of a cracking view and a top-up to your tan – British weather permitting, of course. Plus, permanent options like Sabine – which overlooks St Paul’s Cathedral – are perfect in the early summer weather, too. Check out our ultimate guide here!
Noodles! Bao! Curries! I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be waddling my way out of Bon Appétit after scoffing everything in sight. The brand new food festival takes place in the arches of the famed Leake Street tunnel, where you’ll find a range of market stalls, cooking demos, and workshops all dedicated to east Asian cuisine. It’s taking place between May 20-22, and a truly delicious adventure awaits! Tickets can be found here.
Much in the vein of London’s enchanting Van Gogh experience, the work of Frida and Diego is getting the immersive art treatment this May. Mexican Genuises heads to Dock X from May 28, aiming to bring to life the sights, sounds, and colours of Mexico that so inspired the famous duo. Over 300 art projections highlighting every detail of their paintings in bright, vivid clarity will be used to tell the story of their lives, loves, and art careers. You’re not going to want to miss it – tickets can be found here!
It’s been a long, dark winter without ’em, but music festival season kicks off properly this month! Check out a few of our early season highlights below, and see our full guide for the rest.
🎧 Queen’s Yard Summer Party (May 1): a Hackney Wick-wide celebration across sixteen venues, with music from CTRL SOUND, Gottwood, and more
🎤 Wide Awake (May 27 & 28): back after a 2021 debut, you can catch BICEP, Caribou, Floating Points and more at this Brockwell Park festival
🎷 City Splash (May 29): a bouncing celebration of reggae-influenced artists, this year’s lineup boasts Congo Natty and Barrington Levy amongst the acts
7-10. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a mouthwatering meal
Sunshine, tequila, and tacos are the perfect recipe for a brilliant Cinco de Mayo, and we’ve rounded up five spots that are putting on a proper celebration for the occasion!
🇲🇽 Jalisco in Brixton Market will host an all-day party, with a special deal of two tacos for £5 (May 5)
🇲🇽 Los Mochis, the home of Baja-Nihon cuisine, is going all out with half-price cocktails, special dishes, and a live DJ set (May 5)
🇲🇽 Hacha in Dalston and Brixton are serving up Mexican dishes and ‘Mirror Margaritas’ (May 5)
🇲🇽 Goods Way are kicking off a new supper club series with a collaboration between Breddos Tacos and Casamigos tequila (May 5 & 6)
🇲🇽 La Piñata are hosting a tequila, mezcal, and street food festival at Tobacco Dock (May 7)
11. Squeeze every last drop of fun out of the bank holiday
It’s a strange scenario when we’re down a bank holiday in May, and yet we’re not upset about that. Perhaps it’s because there’s a very good reason for the delay to the spring bank holiday, or perhaps it’s because the prospect of a three-day weekend just can’t dampen our mood. Either way, go make the most of the weekend with some inspiration here!
A multi-sensory, immersive experience that’s a little trippy, a lot of fun, Dopamine Land is designed to spark joy and put a smile on the face of weary Londoners. We’ve given it a go and it’s a joyful riot, with a series of interactive rooms that invite you to let your inner child loose, whether that be pretending the floor is lava or by snapping selfies in the infinity room. Check it out and book your tickets here.
13-17. Soothe your soul at a delightful candlelight concert
Fever’s array of dazzling candlelight concerts shows no sign of slowing down, and with tributes to your favourite musicians and other brilliant themed shows on the menu, they’re an absolute must for culture vultures! Here’s our pick of May’s concerts…
🕯 Candlelight: A Tribute to Coldplay @ St. Mary’s Church (May 13)
🕯 Candlelight: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac @ St Mary’s Church (May 14)
🕯 Candlelight: A Tribute to Ludovico Einaudi @ Central Hall (May 21)
🕯 Candlelight: The Best of Joe Hisaishi @ Butcher’s Hall (May 21, 22, & 28)
🕯 Candlelight: Best of Magical Movie Soundtracks @ Butcher’s Hall (May 29)
18. Dine inside a hot new plant-filled Mexican restaurant (May 6)
Cavita throws open the doors this May, ready and waiting to serve Adriana Cavita’s food to the world. Expect street food, appetisers, and huge sharing platters, all inspired by Cavita’s heritage and upbringing. Read more here.
19. See Shakespeare beneath the stars with the launch of The Globe‘s summer season
Long summer nights can be spent in a variety of London locales, but for our money there’s no finer place than inside the capital’s famous wooden ‘O’. Shakespeare’s Globe kicks off another summer season in early May, with productions of Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, and King Lear on the bill.
Previously a big hit in Paris, miniature art exhibition Small is Beautiful has set up shop in London, with creations from 32 talented artists now filling a space in South Kensington. If you’ve never seen art that could fit inside the eye of a needle before, or marvelled at whole cities created with breathtaking detail, this is one show you mustn’t miss. Tickets are available here.
21. Feast on pizza and wine at Hackney’s top new collab (May 6-25)
Any time one of London’s best pizza restaurants teams up with a cult wine shop is always likely to get our attention, so news of Yard Sale teaming up with Top Cuvée to create the Vin-Yard is music to our ears. Expect natural wines aplenty, and Yard Sale’s favourite pizzas on the menu.
22. Raise a glass at Fourpure’s Brew/LDN party (May 7)
Along the fabled stretch of road we know as the Bermondsey Beer Mile, you’ll find quite the party taking place this month. Fourpure are hosting a knees-up in their brewery, with live music, Afro-fusion street food from Cally Munchy, and plenty of craft beers on tap. Hoppiness awaits!
May is the true pivot of springtime, as you can catch the last of the cherry blossom, see the bluebells in full bloom, and prepare yourself for a true London tradition: #WisteriaHysteria.
24. Sizzle up a feast beside the Thames (May 7)
The BBQ Club, brainchild of pop-up king Jimmy Garcia, is back on the South Bank this summer, with the bar opening any day now. Once the restaurant opens on May 7, you’re invited to grill your own BBQ tasting menu, and once you’re all nice and fed, quintessentially English lawn games are waiting to awaken your competitive side.
25. Catch some outdoor theatre in Regent’s Park (May 13)
As the weather gets warmer, London’s actors brave the elements in the city’s outdoor theatres. Chief amongst them is Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, kicking things off with an adaptation of Legally Blonde, and We. Are. So. There!
Celebrating a year of serving hungry Londoners, Eataly might just be the promised land for foodies; with 42,000 square feet of pasta, pizza, cheese, and wine, it’s a place that demands to be checked out, like immediately. Get the scoop here.
27. Scope out Camden’s new rooftop margarita hangout (May 13)
It’s all about margaritas, mezcals, and top-notch tacos from The Lucky Club Camden, opening this month above Camden Market. And right around the corner from Secret London HQ! It’s like someone designed a bar just for us… Find out more here.
It’s a clash of the titans in the Women’s FA Cup Final this month, as heavyweights Chelsea and Manchester City battle it out to be the cup champions. With a massive crowd expected to be in attendance, and child tickets starting from just £2.50, it’s an excellent way to experience the magic of Wembley whilst witnessing a top-tier football match. Find your tickets here.
29. Feel pretty in pink at this stunning hidden garden
More of an open secret these days, Richmond’s Isabella Plantation remains one of the capital’s true springtime blessings. A wander through the azaleas is going to prove tricky for your screen time, because all you’re going to want to do is snap photos of this idyllic scene. Find out more about it here.
30. Dine whilst dangling in the sky at this unique pop-up (May 19)
If you’ve never tried London in the Sky, then you’ve never experienced one of the most invigorating/terrifying (delete as appropriate) dinners in town. Your table is lifted 100ft into the sky for your choice of brunch, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, or cocktails, and it’s one meal you won’t be forgetting in a hurry!
31. Get the beers in at the South Bank’s massive returning beer garden
Between The Bridges – so named for its location between Westminster and Waterloo bridges – was a real treat last summer, and with 4000 square feet of drinking space, it welcomed many a happy Londoner across the season. Definitely one for your summer bucket list!
32. Party hard – whilst still getting your beauty sleep – at Annie Mac’s new club night (May 20)
Lawdy I’m getting old, because this sounds perfect to me: DJ and BBC Radio One broadcaster Annie Mac has announced ‘Before Midnight’, a new club night designed for ‘Cinderellas’ – AKA those people who want to be in bed before the wee hours. She’ll be spinning all of her favourite tunes in the beautiful Islington Assembly Hall, and the night runs from 7pm until midnight.
33. Feast your eyes on florals at Belgravia in Bloom (May 23-29)
Florals for spring might not be groundbreaking, but it sure is pretty – especially when Belgravia does it! With the Queen’s Jubilee on the horizon, this year’s theme is ‘Beautifully British’, so be prepared to see a whole host of floral displays that pay tribute to modern Britain. And speaking of flowers…
34. Wander through expertly-sculpted gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show (May 24-28)
Stop and smell the flowers — and explore brilliant gardens designed by some of the world’s cleverest horticulturalists — at this blooming brilliant five-day floral festival. It’s basically Glastonbury for gardeners!
35. Soak up the rays at west London’s Mexican-themed rooftop hangout
The Pergola gang are back, but to have you believing you’re in Tulum rather than Paddington, they’ve transformed their west London street food spot into a chilled beach club. Think cacti, airy hammocks, and lush tropical foliage, and a steady diet of ceviche and tacos. Oh, and don’t forget the margaritas… More here.
The verdant Barbican Conservatory, a glass-bound rainforest in the heart of the City, is one of the many brilliant free things to do in London. And whilst it’s a fine option in all weathers, May is the ideal time to tick it off your London bucket lists!
37. Set the high scores at the capital’s new retro arcade bar
Born in Manchester but taking a bold first step into London, NQ64 is bringing thirty retro arcade games and consoles to Soho at the end of May. Any time you can be sipping a drink while nostalgically killing it on some of your favourite childhood games is a win in our book! More info here.
38–42. Amble round these art exhibitions
Art galleries will fling open their doors across town, and new and returning exhibitions are just starting to be confirmed! Here are some of the early highlights:
Art exhibitions opening in May 2022
💙 Reframed: The Woman in the Window, Dulwich Picture Gallery (opens May 4)
❤️Our Time on Earth, Barbican Centre (opens May 5)
💚Cornelia Parker, Tate Britain (opens May 18)
Art exhibitions closing in May 2022
🚨 Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution, V&A Museum (until May 8)
🚨 Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, National Gallery (until May 15)
43-67. Get hyped for a huge month of live music
Gigs aplenty in London this May, and we’re talking about the cream of the crop: Grammy winners, chart-toppers, era-defining groups all feature in this month’s guide. Check out the ones we’re most excited for!
🥁 Foals, Olympia (May 1 & 2) & O2 Academy Brixton (May 8)
🎤 Dua Lipa, O2 Arena (May 2 & 3)
🎧 JoJo, Roundhouse (May 3)
🎸 James Bay, O2 Forum Kentish Town (May 4)
🎤 Denzel Curry, O2 Academy Brixton (May 4)
🥁 Feeder, O2 Academy Brixton (May 6)
🎸 Keith Urban, Eventim Apollo (May 6 & 7)
🎹 Metronomy, Alexandra Palace (May 7)
🎸 Bryan Adams, Royal Albert Hall (May 9, 10 & 11)
🎤 Lianne La Havas, KOKO (May 9, 10 & 11)
🎧 Anne-Marie, Wembley SSE (May 11)
🥁 Chase & Status, KOKO (May 12)
🎤 Little Mix, O2 Arena (May 12, 13 & 14)
🎹 Bonobo, Royal Albert Hall (May 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20)
🥁 James Blake, Alexandra Palace (May 17)
🎤 Alt-J, O2 Academy Brixton (May 18, 19 & 20)
🎧 Charli XCX, Alexandra Palace (May 19)
🎹 MØ, Heaven (May 19)
🎸 Pet Shop Boys, O2 Arena (May 22)
🥁 MARINA, O2 Academy Brixton (May 22)
🎤 Michael Kiwanuka, O2 Academy Brixton (May 23) & Alexandra Palace (May 25)
🎧 Kate Nash, Electric Brixton (May 24)
🥁 Rudimental, O2 Academy Brixton (May 27)
🎹 Jessie Ware, O2 Academy Brixton (May 28 & 29)
🎤 Ashanti, Trey Songz & Mario, Wembley SSE (May 29)
68-72. Keep exploring this mighty city
Did we go places in April? You bet we did! Were they all restaurants? You bet they are! Here are five foodie gems the team uncovered this month.
🇪🇸 El Norte: swanky Spanish restaurant with traditional dishes
🥃 BRIX: Brooklyn-influenced casual restaurant with a late-night basement bar
🍕 Pizzeria Mozza: the first UK outpost for hyped American chef Nancy Silverton
🍋 Amalfi: Soho resto that takes inspo from the serene coast of southern Italy
⭐️ Neyba: a multi-cuisine kitchen and shop with a Michelin-star heritage
More things to do inspiration…
200 fab and FREE things to do in London
The 500 best things to do in London
All our ideas for unusual places to visit in London
Also published on Medium.