May 2022 is a big month in London’s calendar. Not only do we get an early May Bank Holiday (this year falling on Monday 2 May) but it’s the run up to the Queen’s 70th anniversary as monarch.
This means that there are lots of Platinum Jubilee celebrations planned plus another bank holiday for early June – originally scheduled for May 30, this will now be moved to Thursday June 2 and an additional bank holiday will be held on Friday June 3, making for a nice long bank holiday weekend.
But it’s not all bank holidays and another half term (yes, that’s coming up this month too!) this May, there are lots of things to do throughout the month.
Don’t miss our pick of the best things to do in London for the May half-term as well as our favourite events to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee long weekend (plus our favourite Platinum Jubilee souvenirs).
If you’re visiting London for the first time – or are planning to be a tourist in your own city – then add London’s most famous landmarks and popular attractions to your itinerary. Big Ben is no longer shrouded in scaffolding, the Changing of the Guard is once again a regular event and tours have resumed at the Houses of Parliament.
Other ongoing events that are always popular with kids include the Harry Potter photographic exhibition in Covent Garden.
The National Portrait Gallery is closed until 2023 but I’ve just discovered that they offer a range of walking tours on their website that are free to download. These London Walking Tours explore the fascinating and surprising stories of women who have shaped British history.
Each free walking tour lasts between 1hr 30mins – 2hrs and explores a different corner of London including St James’s, Mayfair and Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia.
Don’t forget that there are lots of other free things to do in London too including some of the top attractions such as the Natural History Museum.
This list is still being updated so do make sure you check back to see the best things to do in London in May – with kids!
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You may also enjoy these posts:
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- The brilliant Horrible Histories boat tour is a must
- The charming Peter Rabbit afternoon tea at The Dilly
- The 2022 guide to the best of London with kids (+map)
May 2022 events in London
Archaeology Adventures at the British Museum
Discover the world of archaeology after hours with a night at the British Museum. This sleepover event introduces children aged 8 – 15 to the world of archaeology through workshops, activities and storytelling before bedding down in the Egyptian and Assyrian galleries, surrounded by kings and gods from the ancient world.
When: 14 – 15 May, 2022
Price: £60 per person, all children must be accompanied by a ticket-paying adult
Rebuilding the Library at the British Library
This workshop has been especially designed for Deaf families and invites children to create their own print-based building inspired by the shapes and textures of the British Library.
Led by artists Judith Brocklehurst and Damien Robinson, families will explore how different spaces make you feel using print block techniques to create personalised paper buildings.
When: Saturday 7 May 2022, 10:30am- 12pm and 1.30pm – 3pm
Price: Free, but you must book in advance
Beatrix Potter in Greenwich Park
Taking place for six days from Monday 30th May is a charming adaptation of two of Beatrix Potter’s best-loved tales, The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny.
Performed by Quantum Theatre in the Royal Observatory Gardens, at Greenwich Park, this is the perfect way to spend an afternoon with the kids. Don’t forget a picnic!
When: 30 May – 4 June; performances at 11.30am and 2.30pm
Price: £10 each
Royal Celebrations at Hyde Park
To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, head to Hyde Park, a Royal Park in central London, and get involved in hands-on activities that explore the past, present and future of the Royal Parks. Hands-on activities include making your own nature crown, planting seeds and designing a park of the future.
When: 31 May – 1 June; 11am to 3pm
Price: Free; Email to register your interested, check website for contact details.
Family Events at the Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre on London’s South Bank always has a good line up of family fun, this month it’s for the May half-term. They are also hosting a number of events for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Try maypole dancing or a ceilidh, set your inner anarchist free at Punk Alley or see Party a heartfelt play full of humour and a glorious soundtrack.
When: Various dates, see website for details.
Price: See website for details
I Want My Hat Back at the Little Angel Theatre
The popular trilogy by Jon Klassen are being brought to life on stage at the Little Angel Theatre. The 45 minute show follows Bear, Little Fish and the Turtles in the pursuit of a hat from I Want My Hat Back, This is Not My Hat and We Found A Hat. The show is aimed at children aged 3 – 6 years old.
When: 21 May–31 Jul 2022
Price: £13.50 Adult, £11.50 Child (age 1-17). All tickets £8 on Fridays at 4.45pm. All tickets £8 at previews Sat 21 and Sun 22
Garden Guided Tour of Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is open for Guided Tours of the Garden on Sunday 1 May, 2022. The 90 minute tour takes visitors through the palace gardens, which are usually off limits to the public.
Entrance is through the Royal Mews. If you can’t make the tour then don’t forget that the Changing of the Guards takes place in front of the palace.
The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace will be open to visitors from 22 July to 2 October and you can book tickets now.
When: Sunday 1 May at various times, see website for details.
Price: Adult £24.50, Young person (18-24) £15.90, Child £13.40, Under 5 free
Pip & Pop at Kew Gardens
Promising lots of colour and pizzaz is Pip & pop at Kew Gardens. Australian artist Tanya Schultz (aka Pip & Pop) is famous for her “bright and fizzy” artwork. She’ll be exhibiting artworks at Kew Gardens made from everyday materials such as sugar, candy and craft materials.
When: 21 May 2022 to 5 March 2023
Price: Included with entry to the gardens
Small is beautiful, Miniature Art
This exhibition opened in April and showcases the work of 32 local and international miniature artists. On display are 130 miniature artworks showcasing the incredible talent and creativity of these artists – figures playing tennis on a watermelon for example, or skateboarding down a ramp made from coloured pencils.
This is very much a family-friendly event with children DIY workshops on offer and a pop-up shop.
When: Open Tuesdays – Fridays from 10am to 8pm and from 10am to 9pm on weekends.
Where: 79-85 Old Brompton Road in the district of South Kensington; £13/Adult, £11.50/child (6-12yrs)
Power Up at the Science Museum
Power Up at the Science Museum was originally scheduled to run for a couple of weeks in April but it was so popular that it’s now running until June 6, 2022. This fully interactive gaming event features the best video games and consoles from the last five decades and includes everything from Pong to Pacman. You can play against friends in multiplayer showdowns or parents can rediscover their childhood favourites.
When: Until Monday 6 June; check website for timings
Where: Basement Gallery, Science Museum; £8 / person, advanced booking necessary.
Stained Glass Windows at Westminster Abbey
Be inspired by the sun shining in through the stained-glass windows of Westminster Abbey and take part in a special craft activity where you can make your own to take home.
When: Saturday May 7, 14 and 21; 10am-1pm
Price: Free to join when you purchase a ticket to the Abbey.
Cutty Sark Rig Climb Experience
This new experience at the Cutty Sark only opened at the beginning of April and promises a brilliant day out. For the first time since arriving in Greenwich in 1954, visitors will be able to climb the famous masts of the Cutty Sark.
‘The Rig Climb Experience’ allows those brave visitors the chance to step up from the main deck onto the ship’s ratlines and climb up its shrouds, just as hundreds of sailors did during the Cutty Sark’s heyday at sea. Once at the top, climbers will experience a controlled descent from the rigging down to street level aside the ship.
Those who make it to the top will be rewarded with some of the best views in town looking out over St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and The Shard.
When: The Rig Climb Experience opens on April 2, 2022
Where: The Cutty Sark, Greenwich; Standard Rig Climb prices start from £41 for adults and £26 for children, Plus prices start from £51 for adults and £36 for children. These prices include general admission to Cutty Sark, meaning you can take part in the climb and explore the ship on the same day. Tickets also include all safety equipment and free storage of personal items.
One of the best ways to get to the Cutty Sark is by Uber Boat by Thames Clippers along the River Thames. only opened in April and promises a brilliant day out.
One of the best ways to get to the Cutty Sark is by Uber Boat by Thames Clippers along the River Thames.
The Gunpowder Plot at the Tower Vaults
We’re very excited by this new fully immersive experience that’s taking place at the Tower Vaults next to the Tower of London. Based on the infamous plot by Guy Fawkes to blow up Parliament in 1605, this experience combines live theatre and digital technology to help you step back in time and try to stop the plot!
Note that the event is rated 12a so not one for young kids.
When: From May 2022, check the website for days and times.
Price: Standard tickets £40 – 70; children under 16 save £10 per ticket.
Zoobilee at London Zoo
Celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at London Zoo during the May half-term with Zoobilee. Children are invited to bring their favourite cuddly toy to take part in a Teddy Bears’ Picnic or join in with bug hunting and pond dipping sessions. There will the chance to make your very own animal crown.
When: 28 May – 5 June, 2022
Price: Included with Zoo admission
Covent Garden May Fayre & Puppet Festival
Celebrating the traditional British puppet show of Punch & Judy is this festival held in Covent Garden. Punch & Judy Professors and Puppeteers will gather from all over the country and abroad to perform in the Garden of St Paul’s Church, near the spot where English diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys first recorded sighting Mr Punch in May 1662.
The festival starts with a Grand Procession at 11am followed by shows, stalls, workshops, folk dance and maypole dancing.
When: Sunday May 8, 2022; 11am – 5.30pm
Chelsea in Bloom
With London in full bloom it’s not surprising that May is the month when the RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place. This year it’s being held from May 24 – 28, but it’s not the best for kids (under 5s are not allowed). Instead, head to Chelsea in Bloom, London’s “largest free-to-attend festival of flowers”.
The floral art show is a competition between Chelsea’s best shops, restaurants and hotels, with each adorning themselves with colourful and creative designs in a bid to scoop the top prize. The theme for this year’s show is British Icons so expect plenty of Rule Britannia floristry in the run up to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee taking place the following week.
When: May 23 – 28, 2022
Eid in the Square
The festival of Eid marks the end to Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. This year the 17th Eid in the Square returns to Trafalgar Square with a fun line-up of actors, musicians, poets and comedians. There will also be an array of global food stalls and a host of activities for families including an art zone, story-telling, sporting activities and Mehndi and face painting.
When: Saturday May 7, 12pm – 6pm.
Price: Free but you must register to attend.
Food and fun at Hampton Court Palace
The Artisan Festival returns to Hampton Court Palace this year with fun and games for families. Held in Henry VIII’s home, there’s the chance to do shop from independent designers, join in a Make & Create workshop, discover tasty food from street food vendors, play traditional garden fête games, and much more.
Plus, the Magic Garden is open again and the Maze always delights. This is the UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze, commissioned around 1700 by William III.
When: May 13 – 15, 2022
Price: Included in Palace admission