chelsea in bloom

Brilliant things to do in London in May 2024

30 Apr 2024 | Updated on: 07 May 2024 |By Annie Lewis

Long spring days return in full force this month – and there are plenty of ways to celebrate

With a bumper number of bank holidays and evening light finally stretching beyond 7pm, May is the month that London really starts gearing up for the heady days of summer. So, how to fill those long balmy hours? From the capital’s chicest new restaurants to horizon-expanding masterclasses, and fashionable pop-ups and festivals galore, here are the best things to do in London in May 2024.

The festival: Chelsea in Bloom

From 20-26 May 2024, London’s largest free flower festival will spring into life in Chelsea. Focusing on the theme ‘floral feasts’, Chelsea in Bloom will transform this charming corner of London with floral creations adorning the frontages of more businesses, shops and restaurants than ever before, with inspiration taken from culinary favourites and memorable food scenes and characters across film, literature, history and art. Produced by Cadogan, in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society, large scale installations will spring up across the neighbourhood, including an enormous floral The Very Hungry Caterpillar on Sloane Square – alongside the Information Point, where rickshaw and walking tours can be booked – while further installations can be found on the King’s Road, Pavilion Road, Duke of York Square and Sloane Street.

From 20-26 May 2024, visit

On stage: Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre returns to one of the capital’s most famous green spaces this month, kicking off its summer roster of shows with Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identities Twelfth Night (or What You Will) from 3 May 2024. The season has shows for adults, families, musical theatre fans and romantics, with a programme featuring Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile (from 17 May) and the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof from the end of July. Established in 1932, the multi-award-winning open air theatre is one of the largest theatres in London (with a capacity of 1,304) so is the perfect destination for avid theatre lovers to experience something different this month. 

Inner Circle, Regent’s Park, NW1 4NU, visit

The exhibition: The Royal Society of Portrait Painters

The Royal Society for Portrait Painters
Frances Bell RP ROI ARSMA, 'Hera'

Are you a fan of classical art? We've got the exhibition for you. Hosted at Mall Galleries in St James’s from 9-18 May, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters annual exhibition is one of the capital’s longest-running art events, with the first held in 1891. For the uninitiated, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP) is a members-only charity that champions some of the UK’s finest portrait painters, and this year's showcase is where you’ll find a selection of drawn and painted portraits by members alongside notable national and international submissions.

From 9-18 May 2024 at Mall Galleries, The Mall, St James’s, SW1Y 5AS, visit

The masterclass: Strawberry Masterclass at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

strawberry masterclass alain ducasse
Image: Food Story Media Ltd

As strawberry season approaches, chef patron of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Jean-Philippe Blondet, and pastry chef Valentin Jollivet have joined forces to host an exclusive strawberry masterclass on 15 May. Guests can go behind the scenes at the three Michelin-starred kitchen and join the two chefs as they share their expertise while guiding you through the art of crafting sensational strawberry dishes, including Valentin’s French take on an English Eton mess which will be served on the menu throughout May. After the masterclass, guests will be invited to indulge in a delicious lunch featuring the very dish the guests helped create. This dining experience, in conjunction with a pairing of delicious wines, promises to be a memorable celebration of the strawberry season.

15 May 2024, 53 Park Lane, W1K 1QA, visit

The shopping experience: The Botanical Atelier pop-up at Battersea Power Station

botanical atelier battersea power station

Florals for spring are indeed groundbreaking when they’re created by the Botanical Atelier. Setting up shop at Battersea Power Station this month, the pop-up has been designed by British contemporary artist Claire Luxton in partnership with MTArt Agency, and will offer shoppers a free opportunity to add a some personalised floral flair to their spring fashion and homeware purchases on the weekend of 4-6 May, the evening of 9 May as part of a special shopping event, and the weekend of 10-12 May. 

The Botanical Atelier pop-up will form a temporary extension to Claire Luxton and MTArt Agency’s breathtaking art installation, Field of Dreams, on display in Turbine Hall A. The floral and botanical inspired artwork is an exploration of the intrinsic connection between nature, mental health and self-awareness, encapsulated within its towering 12m structure and 33 layers of intricately digitally-printed fabric. 

From 4-12 May 2024, visit

The restaurants: The Orangery at Kensington Palace, All’onda and Kioku by Endo

Kensington Palace reopened its flagship restaurant The Orangery on 1 May, emerging from an extensive renovation led by architect StudioKKD, which has sensitively brought the space back to life. Situated within the picturesque grounds of Kensington Palace, the space dates back to the 18th century and its reopening is poised to become one of the city’s most sought-after lunch and afternoon tea destinations. Menus have been inspired by the opulence of Queen Anne's greenhouse, with signature dishes including Queen Victoria's famed Victoria sponge and The Orange: orange sorbet, citrus salad and chocolate soil.

Elsewhere, the lunch menu showcases seasonal British fare, featuring Wye Valley asparagus with pink grapefruit and smoked salmon, and the palace pie: a hearty blend of braised lamb shoulder and beef rib served with Somerset cheddar mash. Book the Royal Afternoon Tea for a selection of delightful treats, including Castle Farm lavender éclair and traditional scones served with Cornish clotted cream and blackcurrant preserve, to be enjoyed alongside Pimm’s or English sparkling wine. 

All’onda. Image: Anton Rodriguez

On 2 May, All’onda will open its doors on Fitzrovia’s Charlotte Street as a new Italian fine-dining destination. Translated as ‘on the wave’, All’onda refers to the risotto-making technique which sees rice gently tossed in the pan to create a smooth, flowing texture reminiscent of waves. The restaurant will draw on its namesake to showcase a series of refined risottos and stems from founder Cordula Schulz’s passion for the dish and head chef Andrea Granzarolo’s ingredient-centric approach. The likes of squid ink risotto and beef tartaccio (a tartare-carpaccio crossover) with smoked soy will sit alongside three regularly-changing main courses, currently including duck with carrot, tamarind and plum, and Cornish turbot with matcha and green asparagus. Inside, the 42-cover restaurant features dark wood surfaces, warm lighting and subtly curved touches in a nod to All’onda’s name. 

Michelin-starred Japanese chef and world-renowned sushi master Endo Kazutoshi will open Kioku on the rooftop of The OWO on 15 May. Drawing on classic Japanese cuisine combined with Mediterranean influences, Kioku features an eight-seat chef’s table overlooking the kitchen, private dining room within one of the building’s turrets, and a 55-cover outdoor terrace, as well as a main dining room showcasing weekly piano performances. On the menu, Kazutoshi has included his signature nigiri and sashimi alongside larger plates of cuttlefish nori pesto and elderflower, chashu pork ramen ravioli, smoked yellowtail with green apple ponzu, and a bespoke tuna trolley, served tableside by one of Kazutoshi's sushi chefs. For your digestif, head to the sister bar that opened its doors at the end of April offering the largest sake collection in Europe, stored in a bespoke sake safe holding 110 bottles. 

The Orangery Restaurant reopens on 1 May 2024 at Kensington Palace Gardens, W8 4PX,; All’onda opens on 2 May 2024 at 67 Charlotte Street, W1T 4PH, visit; Kioku by Endo at The OWO opens on 15 May 2024 at 57 Whitehall, SW1A 2BX, visit

The events: The Embassy Gardens Drive-In Cinema

Celebrating the best classic cars and timeless movies, Vauxhall’s Embassy Gardens will host an American-inspired drive-in cinema on 11 May. Promising back-to-back blockbuster film screenings from 10am to 10pm – as well as the option to hire a spectacular classic or supercar, or bring your own vehicle – sit back and enjoy the likes of The Lion King, Star Wars, Mamma Mia and James Bond. Every small detail has been taken care of, as each car is provided with its own wireless speaker, as well as deckchair and ‘bring your own blanket’ screenings for those without their own set of wheels. Classic cinema food and drink comes courtesy of The Alchemist, serving burritos, burgers, popcorn, sweets and ice cream – as well as summery cocktails, mocktails, beers, and wines – that can be delivered straight to your car. 

11 May 2024, 3 Viaduct Gardens, SW11 7AY, visit

The bars: The Spy Bar at The OWO and Vesper Bar at The Dorchester 

Concealed within the historic confines of the former Old War Office lies The Spy Bar, inspired by the covert world of espionage. The new bar has curated an intriguing cocktail journey through the mystery of this fabled institution, serving tipples in a space previously used as high-security storage vaults for the mission reports of MI5 and MI6 agents, and known as room 007. The perfect destination for a martini-hour meeting, after-dinner drink or late-night rendezvous, the bar operates on a reservation-only basis with liquor lovers invited to relax in the Bordeaux-red interiors furnished with antique telephones. Each of the Spy Bar’s 16 cocktails evoke different chapters from the Old War Office’s storied past, and highlights include the Vesper martini, an ode to the creation of Ian Fleming’s James Bond – the author was known to write in the former military library – and a special concoction honouring the bravery of Christine Granville, Britain’s longest-serving female agent. 

Cocktail connoisseurs should also head over to the decadent Vesper Bar at The Dorchester to sample its new menu, Essentia, celebrating the powerful connection between scent and memories with 11 new cocktails. Based on personal experiences from members of the Vesper Bar team, scents depicted throughout Essentia include mushroom foraging in the forest, summery salty sea air, nostalgic childhood birthday cakes, thunderstorms, and leather-bound library books. We’d recommend the sweet Sunkissed Summers – evoking memories from a boat trip to Capri in the heat of Italian summer with flavours of Seatrus gin, rhubarb ‘sea water’ and aloe vera – and Thunderstorm, inspired by rainy days to create a smooth serve featuring Altamura vodka, oregano mezcal, passionfruit, and patchouli. 

The Spy Bar at Raffles London at The OWO is open at 57 Whitehall, SW1A 2BX, visit; The Vesper Bar’s Essentia menu is available at 53 Park Lane, W1K 1QA, visit

The exhibition: The Aldo Fallai per Giorgio Armani

The Giorgio Armani store on Chelsea’s Sloane Street will host a special exhibition from 12 May - 2 June 2024 dedicated to the photographer Aldo Fallai. The show celebrates the artistic dialogue between Florentine Aldo Fallai and Giorgio Armani: a partnership which dates back to the mid-1970s – before Armani embarked on his solo adventure – and continued for almost 30 years until the early 2000s, only to resume in recent years. The exhibition, named Aldo Fallai per Giorgio Armani, was first shown at Armani/Silos in Milan and will be presented in London as a series of frames displaying 26 of Aldo Fallai's most iconic images that either appeared in magazines or on billboards. Featuring a photo with a tiger cub, taken in Palermo when the troupe took refuge at the Togni circus one rainy day, to The Career Woman, embodied by Antonia Dell’Atte looking directly ahead towards a bright future in the middle of the crowd on Via Durini, this is a must-see exhibition for Armani fans. 

12 May-2 June 2024, 37-42 Sloane Street, SW1X 9LP, visit

The installation: The Dorchester in Bloom

Also marking the beginning of spring, five-star Grand Dame The Dorchester will come into full bloom this month as it launches its summer season with an experiential AR filter and a sparkling partnership with Wild Idol. The hotel’s famous façade will be transformed from 3 May with an immersive AR experience, unlocked by a special QR code located on the forecourt, to reveal a bespoke Instagram filter showcasing the hotel’s signature rose. As guests film the façade, rose vines will grow up the entire hotel and blossom with pale pink flowers, celebrating The Dorchester Rose which was specially created by designer florist Philip Hammond in collaboration with Meijer Roses of Holland – a process which took seven years. Admire the installation by taking a seat at The Dorchester Garden, launched in partnership with alcohol-free wine brand Wild Idol, a prime spot on the edge of Hyde Park to savour the summer months. 

3 May 2024, 53 Park Lane, W1K 1QA, visit

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