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Anya Meyerowitz

Guest Luxury Lifestyle & Travel Writer



Things to do in London over the May Bank Holiday

As the May bank holiday weekend approaches, the capital dons its finery (as we do) and, this close to summer, it’s both an indoor and outdoor playground for the well-heeled. From captivating art exhibitions to bustling artisanal markets and everything in between, the city promises a veritable smorgasbord of things to do this bank holiday Monday to satisfy even the most cultured of palettes or debaucherous of dockets. And while it’s never a bad idea to secure a booking at one of London’s coolest restaurants, spend an evening in one of the latest innovative bars on the scene, or even exploring one of its iconic landmarks, the three day weekend offers up new, exciting pop-ups, openings and events. Blink and you’ll miss them though, and so we’ve handpicked a clutch of our favourite things to do across this bank holiday weekend, whether you’re after some family-friendly fun or are in need of a more discerning to-do list.

Revel in open-air splendour

Though the May bank holiday doesn’t always guarantee us balmy weather, this year the odds are looking in our favour. So instead of shunning the sunshine in favour of a West End trip, instead nab a ticket to one of London’s open air theatres. There’s Shakespeare’s Globe, which will be staging an Elizabethan dress production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ by in-house artistic director Sean Holmes over the bank holiday, and the Shakespeare theme continues at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, which is also staging a Shakespearian comedy over the bank holiday; a version of mistaken identity shipwreck jaunt ‘Twelfth Night’ helmed by RSC veteran Owen Horsley.

Catch the Hayward Gallery’s Sculpture Exhibition before it closes

Haywards Gallery
Hayward Gallery

Undulating, drooping, erupting and cascading, if you thought metal couldn’t ‘ooze’ you’ll think again after a visit to the Hayward Gallery’s When Forms Come Alive exhibition. The final May bank holiday marks the closing of the show and so art-connoisseurs, and even those who just dabble in a gallery visit every so often, won’t regret making time to head to the Southbank to soak up this poetic playfulness with gravity and sensation. Feeling peckish? Just outside, the famed Southbank food market will be dishing up fluffy Asian buns, chocolate-laden desserts and a whole host of other indulgent street food bites, the perfect accompaniment to a stroll along the Thames.

Search for clues around Mayfair

The Mayfair Townhouse, one of the capital’s hottest new hotel openings and part of the Iconic Luxury Hotels’ exceptional collection,, has devised a trail around the area for its youngest guests (though we defy adults not to become fully immersed in the fun too). The premise: Their beloved mascot, the Dandy Fox, has disappeared, and it’s up to you to return him safely before the manager finds out. Those who accept the challenge to solve the case will head off to follow clues provided by the property that will have them hot on his trail, criss-crossing the local London streets, discovering his favourite fox hangouts and preferred places to lounge in London as well as learning some fun facts along the way. Of course there are prizes involved for the children and well-earned tipples can be enjoyed by parents once safely back at your five-star base.

The MayFair London
The Mayfair Townhouse

At the heart of this high-end neighbourhood hotel, you’ll find The Dandy Bar: a theatrical and atmospheric bar that oozes sophistication. Here you can enjoy a variety of both signature and classic cocktails (including a non-alcoholic cocktail menu curated by Olly Smith), as well as small sharing plates. So, if you’ve got a romantic evening or night with friends marked on the calendar, consider this lavish spot.

The Mayfair bar
The Dandy Bar

Embark on an Omakase adventure

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park’s renowned Japanese restaurant and izakaya recently launched The Ukiyo Room, a revised Omakase experience that has been enchanting discerning foodies who make the pilgrimage from near and far to sample it. The restaurant’s skilled chefs and dedicated sommeliers choose each dish and matching beverage, meaning you can fully relax - with no further decisions to be made - knowing you’re in the safest of hands. On the menu? Champagne, wine and sake perfectly paired with delicacies such as popcorn lobster, wagyu oxtail, and miso black cod. Their only request? Arrive hungry with high expectations and relinquish all control at the day.

Picnic in style at the palace

Floral midi-dresses and comfy sling backs at the ready, for The Orangery at Kensington Palace is open for summer following an extensive restoration. The enchanting light-filled dining room, nestled within the grounds of the prestigious city-based palace, invites guests to join them on a food-filled journey, inspired by the opulence of Queen Anne's greenhouse. Visit for a leisurely lunch, followed by a perusal of the palace corridors, or slink in a supper as the sun sets and the crowds clear. Though perhaps best of all, warm scones piled high with clotted cream can be enjoyed across a lethargic afternoon, teamed with lavender éclairs, finger sandwiches and a healthy dose of people watching.

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Visit the lungs of Richmond

If you’d rather avoid the central London crowds, head in the other direction, toward the green lungs of Richmond: Kew Gardens. This sprawling ode to all things horticulture is worthy of your time on any given day, but during the May bank holiday its vibrant blooms and ornate greenhouses play host to a range of events to suit all members of your party. From forest bathing workshops for those in search of some serene solitude to free walking tours through the spectacular artworks of Marc Quinn: Light into Life, the artist worked in close collaboration with Kew scientists and horticulturists to identify significant plants from across the collections to inspire the works, which include installations and sculptural portraits. Plus, there’s a sizable play area for children, a day can easily be whiled away here in the blink of an eye.