May is a bumper month for holidays and events already and then they go and throw a half term into the mix! As always, there are lots of things to do in London for the May half term and we’ve picked the best of the bunch.
This year, the May half-term for most schools in London runs from Monday 29 May to Friday 2 June.
If you are in the city outside of half term, don’t miss our pick of the best things happening London in May, including lots of fun Coronation events and activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Get your diaries out, it’s going to be a busy week!
Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination
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This popular exhibition at the Science Museum was due to close at the beginning of the month but it’s been such a hit that it’s now running until August.
May half term is the perfect time to blast off into space on this unique story-led exhibition that examines visions of the future through science and science fiction. Encounter authentic items from science fiction films, TV series and literature as well as scientific objects that have shaped modern life.
Where: The Science Museum
When: Until 20 August 2023
Spring Family Festival at ZSL London Zoo
Celebrate the Zoo springing into life with a festival programme of animal talks, colourful arts and crafts, interactive gameshows, music, workshops and myriad other spring-inspired activities.
Step into the Tulip Tent, take it easy in the Lilac Lounge (created especially for babies), release your inner designer in the Daisy Den, build the perfect animal-inspired shelter in Foxglove Fortress – and more!
When: 27 May – 4 June
Where: London Zoo; included in ticket admission. Tickets must be booked in advance.
Brigit’s Bakery King Charles III Coronation Bus Tour
Brigit’s Bakery are well known for their afternoon teas on board a classic double-decker routemaster bus. To celebrate the King’s Coronation they will be decorating their buses with flags, crowns and other royal decorations to make sure that families celebrate in royal style
Official London Tour Guides will share everything they know about King Charles, Queen Camilla and the Coronation as you tour London’s main sights in central London including Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey,
When: Until 31 May.
Where: Departing from Victoria Coach Station or Trafalgar Square; Prices adult from £45pp, kids from £35 per child.
Time Travellers in Hyde Park
Travel back through time through The Royal Park’s history with fun drop-in events taking place on Tuesday 30th, Wednesday 31st May and Thursday 1st June. Activities include creating a plant print with Hapa zome, designing a park of the future, trying to master calligraphy and meeting Queen Victoria.
When: 30 May – 1 June 2023
Where: The LookOut in Hyde Park; free. Register your interest in advance
Restoration at the Tower of London
Charles is being crowned King…but which Charles are we talking about? Step back in time at the Tower of London to 1661 and learn how preparations were made for Charles II’s coronation procession.
Discover the elaborate plans and level of detail that went into transforming London into this historical event – not least because England has been without a monarchy for 10 years.
When: Until 21 July
Where: The Tower of London; included in palace admission
Story Seekers: Throwback Games
Adventurers wanted at the Imperial War Museum! Head over to the IWM this May half term and use your wits and imagination to help explore the museum’s collections and find connections. Discover real objects and learn how children kept themselves busy during the Second World War when – gasp! – there were no electronics to keep them busy!
Also taking place this half term on 30 May is the museum’s We Were There Family Day. Families are invited to drop in and meet IWM’s veterans and eyewitnesses of conflict to hear firsthand accounts on the impact of war on people’s lives.
When: Story Seekers takes place 27 May – 4 June. We Were There takes place on 30 May.
Where: Imperial War Museum; Free event with general admission.
Horrible Histories at Hampton Court Palace
Barmy Britain is back on stage at Hampton Court Palace this May half term. Meet the crazy characters and rude rulers from Britain’s barmy past including King Henry I, William the Conqueror and Henry VIII.
Hour-long performances take place outside on the East Front of Hampton Court Palace twice daily (keep your fingers crossed for sunshine!)
When: 27 May – 3 June; 12pm and 3pm. Performances on 31 May will be British Sign Language interpreted.
Where: Hampton Court Palace; Tickets do not include palace admission. Adult/child £15/9
Coronation events at Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is busy this month what with hosting a coronation and all but they’ve still organised some fun things for families to do in this May half term.
On 27 May they are hosting a coronation celebration garden party with oodles of free activities from crown making and story telling to a treasure hunt and more.
Taking place over the half term holidays is a daily coronation crown making workshop inspired by the Crown Jewels used at the Coronation of The King and The Queen.
When: The coronation party takes place on 27 May. Coronation crown making takes place 29 May – 3 June
Where: Westminster Abbey; included in admission
Brick Dinos at the Horniman Museum
Don’t miss this family-friendly event where some of the largest beasts to ever walk the earth have been created in miniature form by artist Warren Elsmore and his team.
The exhibition also features rarely seen specimens from the Horniman’s stores, and a range of hands-on activities for children to enjoy including build your own dinosaur and digging for fossils.
When: Until 29 October, 2023. Advanced booking recommended.
Where: Horniman Museum, 100 London Rd, London SE23 3PQ
Glorious Georgians at The Queens Gallery
Enjoy a day fit for a King or Queen at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace this May half term. Taking place on June 1 and2, Glorious Georgians – A Coronation Celebration.
Storytellers will share tales of coronations past and present with half-hour sessions running in the Millar Learning Room at 12:30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm.
When: 1 and 2 June
Where: The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
The Gruffalo at the Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre is always a great day out during the school holidays. This May half term they’ve got a calendar of events on offer including The One & Everything Family Trail that explores the world’s languages and the people who speak them, a curious friendly shape-shifter named toooB, a musical mime performance, and a wonderful adaptation of The Gruffalo.
When: Various dates, check website for details
Where: The Southbank Centre on the South Bank.
Hallyu! The Korean Wave
Hallyu! The Korean Wave at the V&A has been running since last September but if you haven’t seen it yet then it’s a great option for older kids this half term. The exhibition showcases the colourful and dynamic popular culture of South Korea from Gangnam Style and Squid Game to the incredible popularity of K-Pop bands.
Where: V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
When: Until 25 June, 2023
Making Maps at the National Maritime Museum
Go on a journey this May half term to the National Maritime Museum and discover their collection of maps and how sailors once navigated across the world.
Various free, themed drop in events take place including Mapping Journeys, where children are invited to create their own passport and stamps; From the Desert to the Sea, which introduces kids to the kamal, the ancient tool used by Arabs to navigate using the stars; Treasure Maps, inspired by the legends of pirates and buried treasure; Mapping Monsters and many more.
When: 27 May – 4 June between 11am – 1pm and 2pm – 4pm
Where: National Maritime Museum, Romney Rd, London SE10 9NF
Dive In at Sea Life London Aquarium
Dive into the Sea Life Aquarium this half term and come face to face with Giant Sand Tiger Sharks, tiny clownfish and the colony of cute Gentoo penguins. You can learn more about these creatures (and others) with one of the regular keeper talks.
Looking for more to do? Combine a trip to Sea Life with a visit to Shrek’s Adventure next door.
When: 29 May – 4 June
Where: Sea Life Aquarium, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB
Kids Rule! At Eltham Palace and Gardens
Are you ready for a right royal knees-up? Then scoot over to Eltham Place and Gardens to celebrate King Charles III’s coronation with plenty of family-friendly hands-on activities set in the year 1937 and the coronation of King George VI.
When: 27 May – 4 June
Where: Eltham Palace and Gardens, Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, SE9 5NP; included in palace admission
Ai Wei Wei’s Lego Sculpture at the Design Museum
One of the best things to do in London in May is at London’s Design Museum. Chinese artist Ai WeiWei has a major new show at that includes an enormous piece made entirely from LEGO.
Titled Water Lilies #1, the piece is a homage to Impressionist painter Claude Monet and is a reconstruction of his famous water lilies piece, constructed entirely from 650,000 LEGO bricks in 22 colours.
When: Until 30 July 2023
Where: The Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, Kensington, W8 6AG
Amazing architecture at St Paul’s Cathedral
Discover how St Paul’s Cathedral was designed and built with this fun family event that celebrates the achievements of Sir Christopher Wren. The event is part of the Wren 300, a series of activities and events held to mark 300 years since the architect’s death and burial at St. Paul’s.
When: 27 May, 10am – 3pm
Address: St Paul’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
Crown to Couture at Kensington Palace
The Crown to Couture exhibition opened on 5 April and is the largest ever staged at the Palace. On display are some 200 objects including Lady Gaga’s luminous green MTV Awards dress, the Thom Browne dress worn by Lizzo at the 2022 Met Gala and the world-famous Silver Tissue Gown worn at the court of Charles II.
It’s the perfect place to take fashion-forward older children and teens!
Don’t forget to enjoy Kensington Gardens while you’re there.
When: Until October 23
Where: Kensington Palace
Family workshops at the V&A Museum
As always, the V&A Museum are running a series of fun events over the May school holidays. These include designing wall art, storytelling tales from the Caribbean, creating a piece of video art, and designing and making your own Korean mask inspired by The Korean Wave exhibition.
When: Various dates over half-term, check website for details.
Where: The V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL
Family fun at the Cutty Sark
Sail the high seas on board the Cutty Sark this half term with a handful of fun family activities to choose from. Pick up a family trail or backpack and discover more about the stories and people from the iconic tea clipper’s history. Meet some of the some of the colourful characters who sailed on board, create a winch and try your hand at moving cargo or have a go at the ‘Sailor Silhouette’ activity.
Once you’ve done all that, try the Cutty Sark Rig Climb Experience and climb up the rigging as sailors once did many years ago.
When: Various dates, check website for details
Where: Cutty Sark, Greenwich; free with entry to the ship
Drawing with wolves at the National Gallery
Join artist and wildlife enthusiasts Jennie Webber or Laura Cuppage as you create drawings of the wolf look-a-like British Lupine dogs.
Inspired by the gallery’s Saint Francis of Assisi exhibition and the story of how St Francis tamed a wolf that was terrorising the Umbrian city of Gubbio. This family-friendly event is the chance for kids – and their parents – to draw together using a range of materials, tools and techniques.
When: 30 May, 31 May, 1 June at 11am – 12pm and 12.30pm – 1.30pm. Booking essential.
Where: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square London WC2N 5DN
Families Drawn Together at The Queen’s House, Greenwich
This May half term The Queen’s House are running a free drop-in session exploring the collaborative process between father and son that defines the work of the Dutch painters the Van de Veldes.
Willem van de Velde the Elder and his son Willem van de Velde the Younger arrived in London in 1672. Both were celebrated artists: Van de Velde the Elder was famed for his highly accurate drawings of ships and maritime life while his son was known for his paintings that captured the many moods of the ocean.
In this free event at the Queen’s House, adults and children are invited to work together to create their own piece of family artwork.
When: 3 June 11am – 1pm and 2pm – 4pm
Where: The Queen’s House, Romney Rd, Greater, London SE10 9NF
Family fun at Acton Depot
The London Transport Museum’s depot in Action for seven days of family fun and the chance to make your very own board game.
Kids will have to look out for challenges, characters, vehicles and objects to collect throughout their stay with a special spot the colour challenge for younger children.
The Acton Depot is home to 200 years of transport history with trams, buses, trains, signs and more all on display.
The London Transport Miniature Railway will be in action too.
When: May half term
Where: 118-120 Museum Way, Gunnersbury Ln, Acton, W3 9BQ
Festival of Curiosity at the London Transport Museum
Head to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden for a series of fun half-term activities that are taking place as part of their Festival of Curiosity.
Learn all about the people who built the world’s first underground railway to solve the problem of London’s busy streets and the engineers who designed the bridges and cable cars to transport people over the River Thames.
There’s a STEAM-inspired family trail around the museum’s galleries, storytelling sessions, and a ‘Failure is your friend’ workshop where families will learn how engineers are trialling green solutions to climate change.
When: 27 May – 4 June, all day
Where: London Transport Museum, Covent Garden WC2E 7BB
Pinocchio at The Old Operating Theatre
Taking place at The Old Operating Theatre, one of London’s most unusual museums, is a performance of the children’s classic Pinocchio. This is no ordinary performance, however, Pinocchio will be brought to life by the Magical Paper Theatre Company.
Follow the adventures of the mischievous puppet on his quest to become a real boy with paper and wooden characters in a Victorian Paper Theatre.
There are two shows, each lasting 45minutes. Afterwards you will have the chance to look around the museum.
When: 31 May at 12pm and 2pm.
Where: The Old Operating Theatre, 9a St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY
Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur
The Natural History Museum is a great place to visit with kids at any time (not to mention one of London’s top attractions) but this new exhibition is a must!
Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur explores the world of the magnificent titanosaur Patagotitan mayorum, one of the largest creatures to have ever walked the earth. Learn how he found food, kept cool and stayed safe on this journey from tiny egg to towering creature.
If you have time, pop next door to the Science Museum once you’ve finished stopping for lunch along the way.
When: Until January 2024
Where: The Natural History Museum
Blooming Brands at the Museum of Brands
Take part in some botanical-themed activities this half term at the Museum of Brands. Discover the museum’s incredible Time Tunnel with a Blooming Brands Family Hunt and then create your own recycled flowers in the drop-in craft activity.
Best of all, kids go free from 27 May – 4 June.
When: 27 May – 4 June
Where: The Museum of Brands, 111-117 Lancaster Rd, W11 1QT
Family House Tour: Smelly London! at the Charles Dickens Museum
Step into the former home of celebrated author Charles Dickens and learn all about Victorian London…and its smells.
From the stench of sewage and coal smoke to the soap-filled washhouse, London was a very smelly place!
This hour-long sensory tour allows families to step back in time and experience what life was really like in the height of the Victorian era.
When: 31 May – 2 June at 11am, 1pm and 2pm; book tickets in advance (ticket price £10 per person)
Where: The Charles Dickens Museum, 48-49 Doughty St, WC1N 2LX
Half Term workshops at the Cartoon Museum
Think you’ve got a great comic in you? Head to the Cartoon Museum this half term and find out!
The museum are running a number of different workshops for kids exploring the wonderful world of comics. Create a comic strip, explore the multiverse by comic or make a mini comic booklet to take home and impressive your friends with.
There’s also a workshop exploring the basics of drawing Japanese Manga.
When: Various dates over half term, see website for details. Advanced booking essential.
Where: The Cartoon Museum, 63 Wells St, W1A 3AE
Adventures in Pompei at the Sir John Soane’s Museum
Discover the ties between the ancient Roman city of Pompeii and Sir John Soane in this half-term workshop aimed at children aged 7-10 years old.
Learn how Pompeii was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted on 24 August 79 AD and how, many 100s of years later, Sir John Soane visited the site as part of his Grand Tour.
Build mini-models of the city, bake your own Roman loaves and more in this fun-filled workshop.
When: 31 May 11am – 3pm. Book tickets in advance (£10)
Where: Sir John Soane’s Museum, 14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
The Fans Strike Back
A must for any Star Wars fan is this new exhibition taking place in South Kensington. The Fans Strike Back – a Star Wars fan exhibition invites all Jedi Knights, Jedi Masters and Palawan to visit and marvel at the hundreds of collectibles on display. There’s also plenty of official merchandise plus plenty of interactive photo ops and VR experiences (over 14s only). May the Fourth be with you!
When: Opens 19 April – 18 June, 2023
Price: £20.50/13.50 Adult / Child (aged 4 – 12)
Where: 81 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LD, London, SW7 3LD
Animals Art, Science and Sound at the British Library
This fascinating new exhibition at the British Library showcasing the art, science and sound recordings collected by explorers documenting the animal world.
Listen to the mournful song of the last living living Kauaʻi ʻōʻō, recorded in 1983 and declared extinct in 2000, read the first scientific description of a duck-billed platypus, once thought to be so bizarre it must be a hoax, and discover fun facts along the way. Did you know, for example, that the first photograph of a live giant squid was only published in 2005?
When: 21 April – 28 August, 2023
Price: £16/8 Adult / Child (Under 11s go free)
The Wander Project at Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens has five new trails through the Gardens for visitors to explore. Each of the trails is made up of invitations from artists, musicians, and environmental protectors to encourage visitors to feel, hear, move and think differently in nature.
The Adventurers trail takes you on the Treetop Walkway; the Wanderers trail explores the lakeside; on the Protectors trail, guests explore the possibilities of a sustainable future near the Temperate House; the Dreamers trail focuses on the transformative power of nature near the Palm House: and the Time Travellers trail takes visitors near the Redwood Grove.
Choose one trail or try them all!
When: 27 May – 3 September
Where: Starting point Victoria Gate, Kew Gardens
Persia and Greece: family art and tales at the British Museum
To celebrate the new exhibition at the British Museum, Luxury and power: Persia to Greece, the museum are hosting two days of crafts and storytelling celebrating the art and culture of Ancient Greece and Persia.
Create a wall of mythical animals, make a luxurious art piece to take home and listen to a storyteller tell ancient tales.
When: 1 – 1 June, 11am – 4pm. Free but you’re advised to book a free timed ticket
Where: The British Museum
Family workshops at Shakespeare’s Globe
All the world’s a stage at Shakespeare’s Globe and you can take part in one of the fun family workshops being held this May half term.
Workshops are divided by age with something for everyone. Children aged 3-5 can are invited to bring the fun and musical world of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to life; while older kids can choose between a Romeo and Juliet workshop or A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
A family sword fighting demonstration takes place starting on 3 June and a new Ghosts & Ghouls Family tour is being launched on 24 May (until 31 October). Plus there’ the usual family Globe Theatre guided tour and plenty more fun activities too!
When: Check website for details
Where: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT
May Half Term at the Postal Museum
Some very hungry creatures have been spotted at the Postal Museum, some helpful and other less so. Get to know the animals that call the museum home in a series of crafty activities using recycled and re-used materials.
Workshops include Munching Moths, Bothersome Beetles, Spider Guardians, and Snail Mail.
The activities are included with a museum ticket and are drop-in. They’re best studied for kids aged 5-11.
When: 30 May – 3 June, 11am – 4pm
Where: The Postal Museum, 15-20 Phoenix Pl, WC1X 0DA
Family Activities at the Chelsea Physic Garden
The Chelsea Physic Garden always run fun family events and this May half term holiday is no exception. Choose from a range of hands-on activities to keep children entertained.
Take part in a chocolate workshop, make funky botanical soaps, learn about colourful plants and make your own paint from them, learn about the history of beekeeping and more.
When: Various dates over half term, check website for details. Book tickets in advance.
Where: Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Rd, SW3 4HS
Drawn to Water at the London Wetland Centre
Explore London’s wetlands through the eyes of illustrator Quentin Blake. Collect an illustrated guide filled with his charming illustrations and discover the wonderful wetland world – new seasonal trails will be launched later in the summer.
There are art and illustration activities galore including nature-inspired creative challenges, art workshops, and crafty competitions.
Don’t miss the charcoal making and drawing workshop taking place on 27 and 28 May, 3 and 4 June.
When: 18 May – 10 September with some special activities taking place over the half term
Where: London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth Walk, SW13 9WT