The must-see theatre, art exhibitions, dance, opera and sporting events in May 2013 in London

RHS Chelsea Flower Show celebrates 100 years and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre begins

2013-04-17 — / — There are two Bank Holidays in May, the month begins with a long weekend from Saturday 4th to Monday 6th May 2013 and ends with a second Bank Holiday on Monday 27th May 2013, and for anyone who wants to spend the holidays in the UK capital now is the time to book a hotel in London where the city’s theatres, museums, galleries and sporting venues are gearing up for a busy summer season.

An annual highlight in May, attracting 157,000 visitors each year, is the RHS Chelsea Flower Show which celebrates its centenary in 2013 and returns with a glorious display of show gardens, nursery displays and fragrant blooms from Tuesday 21st to Saturday 25th May 2013.

Following a successful first year, London Wonderground returns to the South Bank hosting five months of summer cabaret, circus and comedy in its Spiegeltent. New headline show Limbo, pub landlord Al Murray, and offbeat cabaret duo Frisky and Mannish are just some of the highlights. There’s more comedy from Eddie Izzard at Wembley Arena, and Micky Flanagan who appears at the comparatively intimate Hammersmith Apollo this month. And for more in the way of risqué entertainment see what’s going on at the London Burlesque Festival which runs from 10th to 19th May at various venues across London.

Other notable events this May include the hotly anticipated Raven Girl, an exciting collaboration between choreographer Wayne McGregor and ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ novelist Audrey Niffenegger (who also appears at the London Literature Festival this month, more of which later). Also in dance, iTMOi (‘in The Mind Of igor’) is Akram Khan’s radical reinterpretation of Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’, performed from 28th May to 1st June at Sadler’s Wells where Northern Ballet presents The Great Gatsby (14th to 18th May), and Breakin’ Convention, the annual three day international festival of hip hop and dance, celebrates its 10th anniversary at the beginning of the month from 4th to 6th May 2013.

May is a big sporting month in London with a number of major football, rugby and cricket tournaments. In football there’s The FA Vase (Saturday 4th May), UEFA Champions League Final (Saturday 25th May), and back to back finals at the Football League Championship Play-off Final on Monday 27th May. Rugby fans can choose from the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final (Saturday 25th May) or the HSBC Sevens World Series (11th & 12th May) while in cricket England play New Zealand in the First NatWest Series ODI at Lord’s on Friday 31st May.

A favourite with the Queen, the Investec Derby race festival starts on the last day of the month with the main race, the Epsom Derby, taking place on Saturday 1st June. Around 10,000 runners are due to compete in the BUPA London 10K on Monday 27th May but much more fun will be had at the night-time MoonWalk on Saturday 11th May when walkers don pink bras and fancy dress to complete the 26.2-mile course.

In theatre news, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre begins its hugely popular summer season on Thursday 16th May with To Kill a Mockingbird. Felicity Kendal stars in Alan Ayckbourn’s classic comedy Relatively Speaking, from Tuesday 14th May at Wyndhams Theatre. Chimerica receives its world premiere at the Almeida theatre, a collaboration between the north London theatre and Headlong theatre company who also present The Seagull at Richmond Theatre this month. Olivier award winner Terry Johnson directs Race, written by Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet at Hampstead Theatre, while Public Enemy is at The Young Vic from Saturday 4th May 2013.

The pick of London’s art exhibitions in May include a retrospective on ‘Fear and Loathing…’ cartoonist Ralph Steadman at the CartoonMuseum from 1st May. While Birth of a Collection at the National Gallery shows Old Master paintings from the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, there are more Old Masters at the Queen’s Gallery exhibition In Fine Style. The British Library presents its major summer exhibition, Propaganda: Power and Persuasion, and the marvellous Museums at Night returns from 16th to 18th May for sleepovers and after-hours fun.

For the best in contemporary art, seek out YBA Michael Landy, the 2013 Associate Artist in residence at the National Gallery, Ellen Gallagher at Tate Modern, and Dieter Roth at Camden Arts Centre. Art fairs this month include Collect contemporary craft fair at the Saatchi Gallery, the 20/21 International Art Fair, and FreeRange at the Old Truman Brewery.

The latest in cutting-edge design, Olympic Torch designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, winners of the 2012 Design of the Year award present their view on everyday objects at the DesignMuseum. The three-day Clerkenwell Design Week presents a fascinating showcase of the latest talent, while Grand Designs Live and Eltham Palace Art Deco Fair are design-led shopping exhibitions.

Opera and classical music fans can look forward to performances from the Philharmonia Orchestra which plays its Wagner Anniversary Concert on Wednesday 22nd May marking the start of ‘Wagner 200’, a London festival celebrating the bicentenary of the German composer’s birth (continues until the end of the year). Other opera highlights include Nicholas Hytner’s Don Carlo at the Royal Opera House where La donna del lago also begins this month, and Wozzeck at the London Coliseum by promising theatre director Carrie Cracknell.

Young American pianist Jonathan Biss pays homage to Schumann at Wigmore Hall (4th to 22nd May) while the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra takes on Tchaikovsky at Cadogan Hall (10th to 20th May). Modern classical music is at the forefront of A Scream and an Outrage at the Barbican, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays a Film Music Gala at the Royal Albert Hall where the Italian singer Zucchero performs on Wednesday 22nd May.

Moving up tempo, there’s live music from The Vaccines, Leona Lewis, Muse, The Specials, Lana Del Rey as well as long-standing musicians Depeche Mode, Eric Clapton, Supertramp songwriter Roger Hodgson, and Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler who performs from 27th May to 1st June at the Royal Albert Hall.

A sure sign that summer is here, May sees the returns of outdoor food festivals like the Hampton Court Foodies Festival on the second Bank Holiday weekend (from Saturday 25th to Sunday 27th May), and the bread and tea and coffee festivals in Southbank Square. There’s more al fresco fun with the annual Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival, a wonderful day out for families, the May Fayre at Chiswick House on Sunday 12th May, and Field Day, the first of London’s summer music festivals which is held on Saturday 25th May at Victoria Park. The organisers will, no doubt, be crossing their fingers for sunshine.

For these and more must-see events in London beginning in May 2013, go to where a host of useful information is supplied, giving those planning to visit the city all the information they need in one online location. With over 18 years of experience, the website is the place to go to for informative and unbiased reviews on everything you need to know about the UK’s capital city.



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