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Things to do in London this May: 10 exciting events not to miss

From the world’s most famous flower show to Clerkenwell Design Week, there’s plenty going on in the capital this month

With spring in full swing, it seems there’s no shortage of things to do in London this May. The capital is alive with brilliant events, from horticultural delights in the Royal Borough to must-visit pop-ups and craft and design weeks taking place across the city. If you’re stuck for what to do in London this May, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our round-up of the best London events to add to your diary this month.

The Glossary Edit

Things to do in London this May

Get inspired at the capital’s creative festival 

Clerkenwell Design Week

21 – 23 May

When it comes to the best things to do in London this May, Clerkenwell Design Week is right near the top of the list. The annual festival is a particular highlight on the calendar, thanks to the dizzying array of creative businesses and world-leading architects that take part. With over 600 showroom events, 11 curated exhibitions, striking installations, topical talks and a fringe programme, there’s no shortage of things to see and do.

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Future Icons Selects. Photography: Sophie Ambelas

Highlights for this year include an immersive installation by Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead of 2LG Studio, who have breathed new life into a vintage helter-skelter, and a curvy pink pavilion crafted from ultra-light Stone-Coat by Peter Morris. Elsewhere you’ll find a range of talks and workshops, as well as CDW Late Night on Wednesday 22 May, when you can browse venues late into the night. 

clerkenwelldesignweek.com

Enter a floral wonderland

Chelsea Flower Show

21 – 25 May

It’s not for nothing that this is known as the greatest flower show on earth. Anyone who’s anyone nabs a ticket to the horticultural extravaganza, which is always one of the hottest London events in May, and over recent years you’d have spotted the Princess of Wales and Queen Camilla strolling amidst the roses and peonies.

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There are plenty of exciting floral displays and Chelsea Flower Show firsts to look out for at this year’s event, most notably the No Adults Allowed Garden, which marks the first time a show garden has been designed by children. There’s also the Boodles National Gallery Garden, which celebrates the 200th anniversary of the famed London gallery, as well as a floral-inspired afternoon tea created in partnership with The Dorchester. 

rhs.org.uk

Immerse yourself in a world of fragrance  

Maison Diptyque on Bond Street

Opens 9 May

Parisian fragrance house Diptyque dates back to 1961, when it was founded by three free-spirited artists: painter Desmond Knox-Leet, interior architect Christiane Montadre-Gautrot and globe-trotting creative Yves Coueslant. So, it seems only fitting that the storied French brand has just launched a brand-new art-led concept store on Bond Street, to house all its beautifully scented wonders.

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Described as part boutique, part cultural space, Maison Diptyque will play host to exhibitions, workshops and events, as well as an exclusive range of products that have never been seen before. There’s a Salon of Curiosities, filled with porcelain candle holders and glazed ceramics, a Bath Room dedicated to bathing rituals and a Fragrance Library where you can sample the full range of scents. But the piece de resistance has to be the Ephemeral Space, which has been curated in collaboration with the founder of Parisian concept store Colette, Sarah Andelman, and will host exhibitions from the likes of Cyril Lancelin and Lucy Sparrow. 

107 New Bond Street, Mayfair, London W1S 1ED
diptyqueparis.com

Discover the best independent wellness brands

Raye the Store pop-up

9 May – 5 June

Having showcased over 500 UK-based and European brands since 2021, Raye the Store is back with its 10th pop-up in the heart of Soho. Launching on Berwick Street for four weeks, the limited-edition space will present over 80 brands and more than 200 products with innovative packaging and natural ingredients, all personally selected by founder Nicole Compen.

10 Exciting Things To Do In London This May 2024Pin
10 Exciting Things To Do In London This May 2024Pin

Come to browse a range of wellness products that include herbal teas, antioxidants and nootropics, as well as functional and adaptogenic mushroom blends and natural superfoods. You’ll also find pioneering skincare and make-up brands including Children of Earth, Zowena and Mariam Em, alongside luxury body and home fragrance essentials. 

96 Berwick Street, Soho, London W1F 0QB
weareraye.com

Shop vintage homeware gems

The Vintage Supermarket by Merchant & Found

15 – 18 May

You’ll likely be familiar with Merchant & Found’s digital presence – it is, after all, the UK’s leading online furniture brand. Now they’re launching a bricks and mortar pop-up in Soho, taking over the Vinyl Factory for a three-day Vintage Supermarket. Spread over 6,000 square feet, this is the place to come to pick up some of the finest vintage furniture and lighting from Europe and beyond.

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At the pop-up you’ll find workshops from the Merchant & Found team covering everything from fixing a broken chair to rewiring a lamp, as well as a supermarket-inspired café and daily supermarket trolley dashes. At the heart of it all sits a specially commissioned supermarket, complete with original signage and produce handmade by a global group of artists and makers. Keep an eye out for Kate Jenkins’ exquisite embroidered seafood and Hattie Newman’s beautiful paper fruits. 

51 Poland Street, Soho, London W1F 7ND
merchantandfound.com

Celebrate craftsmanship across the capital

London Craft Week

13 – 19 May

2024 marks the 10th anniversary for London Craft Week, which means this year’s festival is set to be bigger and better than ever. The city-wide event celebrates the joy of craft across multiple sectors and disciplines, bringing together over 750 established and emerging makers, designers, brands and galleries from around the world.

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Future Icons Selects. Photography: Sophie Ambelas

This year, highlights include a selection of evocative glass sculptures by renowned American artist Dale Chihuly’s dotted around Chelsea Barracks and a craft symposium at the V&A with panel discussions and keynote speeches from leading figures in the sector. Don’t miss Make Hauser & Wirth’s Objects of Contemplation, which celebrates over five years of collaborative exhibitions with artist-makers from across the UK and Europe, spanning disciplines from wood to ceramic, textile, metal, stone and mixed materials. 

londoncraftweek.com

Update your wardrobe with bargain buys that do good

Smart Works Fashion Sale

11 & 12 May

If you want to see fashion as a force for good in action, just go to a Smart Works Fashion Sale. Organised by the UK-based charity, which supports unemployed women to get the clothing, coaching and confidence they need to get a job and transform their lives, each one is packed full of treasures at heavily discounted prices. Best of all, 100% of the proceeds go directly to Smart Works.

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For their spring edition they’re taking over the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane for one of their biggest sales to date. Expect sample pieces from top brands as well as great vintage finds, ranging from evening dresses and chic workwear staples to athleisure and accessories. It’s the perfect place to come and update your wardrobe for the season ahead, all while giving back and helping a vital charity in the process. 

91 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, London E1 6QR
smartworks.org.uk

Book an alfresco theatre date

Twelfth Night at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Until 8 June

There’s something so magical about watching a show in the great outdoors, which is why the reopening of the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is always a highlight on the spring calendar. This year, their launch show is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a glorious comedy of mistaken identities set against the heat of the Mediterranean sun.

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Elsewhere on the programme you’ll find a musical version of Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile running from 17 May – 8 June, which is sure to be a hit with the whole family, and a new version of The Secret Garden by Holly Robinson and Anna Himali Howard from 15 June. Here’s hoping for clear skies and warm, balmy nights. 

openairtheatre.com

Snap up the chicest fashion finds

Women For Women International Car Boot Sale

Saturday 18 May

The perennially popular Women For Women International #SheInspiresMe Car Boot Sale is back for its seventh year, taking over the Selfridges London Car Park once again. Hosted by tastemaker Alex Eagle and powered by Reselfridges – the department store’s innovative pre-loved offering – it’s become known as one of the hottest fashion events of the year.

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Featuring a treasure trove of past season, vintage and pre-loved items donated by designers, brands and some of the capital’s most stylish women, including Poppy Delevingne, Cara Delevingne and Eugenie Niarchos, come to browse boots crammed full of Jimmy Choo, Frame and Manolo Blahnik finds. Held in aid of Women for Women International, 100% of the proceeds from the sale will go directly to supporting the charity’s work with women survivors of war – since launching in 2016, the Car Boot Sales have so far managed to raise over £1.2 million for the cause. 

womenforwomen.org.uk

Enjoy a retro movie date in a classic car

Drive-In Cinema at Embassy Gardens

Saturday 11 May

Sign up for some retro movie magic at Embassy Gardens, who are hosting a special drive-in cinema for one day only. From 10am to 10pm they’ll be showing back-to-back nostalgic blockbusters, from Back to the Future and Mamma Mia to Top Gun, with something to suit the whole family. Roll up in your own set of wheels or hire a spectacular classic or supercar on-site for that quintessential all-American experience. (There are also deckchair and ‘bring your own blanket’ tickets available for those who prefer to arrive on foot.)

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Helmed by Duke of London, a family-run classic and supercar hub based in West London, there’ll also be food and drink served by The Alchemist on offer, from brunch burritos and rolls to delicious flatbreads, burgers and ice cream. Wash it all down with a range of summery cocktails and mocktails, which can be delivered straight to your car. 

eventbrite.co.uk

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