Guide to what’s on in London in May 2021
Find out what physical and virtual exhibitions, events and festivals, are taking place this month.
Lockdown is easing, more of us are getting vaccinated and the prospect of normal life returning is getting that bit closer. After months of closure of our favourite London’s culture spots; galleries, museums and other attractions are starting to open their doors. Many establishments have taken creative approaches to showcasing their features in a safe new way. This month, we have two bank holidays to take advantage of, while parents will be looking for ways to occupy their kids during half-term. As the pandemic is still ongoing, we strongly recommend your check the event’s website/social media before arriving as opening times could be subject to changes. Booking in advance is also recommended where possible to avoid disappointment.
Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.
Look out for the computer symbol 💻 for online events.
- 1 May – late summer TBA 2021 : The Drive In
Head to a drive-in cinema offering film screenings and live experiences (e.g. musical performances, theatre, etc) in Enfield. With refreshments available, social distancing guidelines and the audio beamed in through your car stereo. Tickets: One car £35. The Drive In, Troubadour Meridian Water, Harbet Road, Enfield, N18 3QQ. For tickets and more information, visit The Drive In website. 🐻
- 1 May – late summer TBA 2021 : Rooftop Film Club
Rooftop Film Club are offering both drive-in and rooftop cinematic experiences this spring and summer. Watch your favourite classics or newer releases in the comfort of your car… or a cosy deckchair with a cool vista. Times vary. Tickets: Drive-ins £29.50/£31/50 per car; Rooftop seating £15.95-£21.95. Venues include Roof East (Stratford), Bussey Building (Peckham), Brent Cross (🚗), Alexandra Palace (🚗) and Sandown Park (🚗). For more information, visit the Rooftop Film Club website. 🐻
- 1 May – 19 September 2021 : Secret World of Plants @ Kew Gardens
Enjoy unique art installations dotted amongst the plants of Kew. Entrance included with normal ticket. Opening hours vary, but you must book an entry time slot. Tickets: Adults £15/£16, Children £5. Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website. 🐻
- 7 – 16 May 2021 : Virtual Dulwich Festival
Arts and culture festival returns to the south London district… albeit virtually this year! Featuring art, performances, talks, recordings, flash fiction, podcasts, interviews and more. For more information and listings, visit the Dulwich Festival website. 💻
- 12 May – 10 June 2021 : Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) 2020 exhibition
Check out 160 travel photographs of landscapes and people from around the world during a crazy year. Alfresco exhibition allows social-distancing and safe perusal of the imagery. Open 24/7. Free. Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, King’s Cross, N1C 4DQ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the TPOTY website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the exhibition.
- 17 May – 1 August 2021 : Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Witness the beauty and diversity of the natural world in this annual photography exhibition. Open Wed-Sun 11am-5.50pm (closed Mon-Tues). Tickets: Adults £14.95, Children £8.95. Natural History Museum, South Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information and booking, visit the NHM museum website. 🐻
- 17 May – 5 September 2021 : Dub London – Bassline of a City
A new exhibition explores dub reggae and its influence on the capital. Open Mon-Fri 11.30am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. Free entry, but book a time slot in advance. Museum Of London, 150 London Wall, Barbican, City of London, EC2Y 5HN. Nearest stations: Moorgate or Barbican. For more information, visit the Museum of London website.
- 18 May – 27 June 2021 : Sonia Delaunay: Rhythm and Colour
An exhibition of abstraction art pioneer Sonia Delaunay’s works from her Rythmes-Coleurs series. Open Tues-Sat 10am-6pm. Free entry. BASTIAN, 8 Davies Street, Mayfair, W1K 3DW. Nearest station: Green Park or Bond Street. For more information, visit the Bastian Gallery website.
- 18 May – 24 October 2021 : Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street
With lockdown making us more casual than ever, no doubt our sneakers have been worn more than ever in the past year. This new exhibition celebrates the footwear phenomenon. Tickets: £12 (adults), members free. Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, Kensington, W8 6AG. Nearest stations: Earls Court, High Street Kensington or Holland Park. For booking, visit the Design Museum website.
- 18 May – 14 November 2021 : Remember the Future exhibition
Artists in residence will set up studio at Orleans House and explore in art ways we could fix the Earth’s ecological crisis. Among the artists taking part in the six-month project include Ackroyd & Harvey; Nestor Pestana; Bryony Benge-Abbott; Vicky Long and Eloise Moody. During the exhibition, there will also be workshops, talks, family activities and late night events. Open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm. Entry: free (donations welcome). Orleans House Gallery, Orleans Road, Twickenham, TW1 3BL. Nearest station: St Margaret’s. For more information, visit the Orleans House Gallery website.
- 18 May – 21 November 2021 : The Making of Rodin @ Tate Modern
Explore the sculptor who changed modern art in a new exhibition of his plasterwork. Entry times 10am-4.30pm/5pm. Tickets: £18, under 12s free. Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG. Nearest station: Blackfriars. For more information and booking, visit the Tate Modern website.
- 19 May – 30 August 2021 : Unearthed – Photography’s Roots @ Dulwich Picture Gallery
Photography exhibition explores the history of the medium, featuring over 100 works by 41 international artists. Open Wed-Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults £16.50, Concs £8. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Dulwich Village, SE21 7AD. Nearest station: West Dulwich or North Dulwich. For booking, visit the Dulwich Picture Gallery website.
- 19 May – 5 September 2021 : The Romance of Ruins @ Sir John Soane Museum
Exhibition showcases watercolours from a 1764 expedition to ancient Ionia (modern Turkey), against the backdrop of the Sir John Soane’s museum. Open 10am-5pm. Entry: free (timed ticket). Sir John’s Soane Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn, WC2A 3BP. Nearest station: Holborn. For more information, visit the Sir John Soane Museum website.
- 20 May – 22 August 2021 : Thomas Becket – Murder and the Making of a Saint
Exhibition explores the life and murder of the Medieval Archbishop of Canterbury. Including manuscripts, jewellery, and reliquaries. Open 10am-5pm. Tickets from £17. British Museum, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 3DG. Nearest stations: Tottenham Court Road or Russell Square. For more information and booking, visit the British Museum’s website.
- 20 May – 21 November 2021 : The Art of Banksy
Exhibition of Banksy’s art made up of pieces from private collections (although not curated or authorized by the artist himself). Expect prints, canvasses, screen prints, sculptures and other unique works. Open Mon-Wed 10am-6pm, Thu-Fri 10am-9pm, Sat 9.30am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm. Tickets: £21.50-£24.50. 50 Earlham Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9LJ. Nearest stations: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For tickets, visit the Art of Banksy website.
- 21 May – 27 February 2022 : The Murder Express
Enjoy an immersive fine dining experience on board a 19th century train carriage. Enjoy a four-course meal cooked by a Masterchef finalist, while sipping on cocktails and watching a murder mystery unfold. Times vary. Tickets from £60. Located at 63 Pedley Street, E1 5FB. Nearest stations: Bethnal Green, Shoreditch High Street or Whitechapel. For more information, visit Funicular Productions. Check out Metro Girl’s post for details.
- 22 May – 30 October 2021 : Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds – The Immersive Experience
An immersive experience inspired by the classic story. Travel back in time to Victorian London and the Martian invasion of 1898. Experience immersive theatre, virtual reality, augmented reality, holograms and other cutting-edge technology. Overs 12 only. Times vary. Tickets: £39.50-£84.50. The Old Metal Exchange, 56 Leadenhall Street, City of London, EC3A 2BJ. Nearest station: Aldgate or Fenchurch Street. For booking, visit the War of the World’s website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of the show.
- 22 May – 31 December 2021 : Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser
An immersive and theatrical exhibition charting the evolution of Lewis Carroll’s iconic character and how she has inspired media, fashion and culture. Open Wed-Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets: £20, under 12s free. Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 2RL. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information and to book your timed entry, visit the V&A website. 🐻
- 30 May – 1 July 2021: Gaia at the Painted Hall
Luke Jerram’s striking Earth installation is suspended in the recently-restored Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College for one month only. Late night openings on Fridays 5.30pm-10pm. Tickets: £13.50. Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9NN. Nearest stations: Greenwich, Cutty Sark or Maze Hill. For more information, visit the ORNC website. Check out Metro Girl’s post for details
- Now until July 2023 : Scenes in the Square
Check out bronze sculptures of iconic film characters around Leicester Square. Eight interactive characters, such as Lauren & Hardy to Wonder Woman will be placed in the square for four months. Free. Leicester Square, Westminster, WC2H 7DE. Nearest stations: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Leicester Square website. Check out Metro Girl’s gallery of the exhibition. 🐻