Springtime is, for many, the best time to make a visit to London. The temperatures are pleasant, the skies are often blue and there’s blossom everywhere.
Now that’s not to say that you shouldn’t pack an umbrella with you, when you're out and about, but the capital’s parks will be green and blooming, and the city will be full of people, enjoying the fact that it doesn’t get dark until after 8pm! (Perfect for strolling by the Thames after an early dinner, or sitting in a local pub and passing a few hours).
So, yes, pack your bags and book a flight…because winter’s long gone and this month, there’s plenty going on to keep you occupied…
Here are five events we think might pique your interest:
1. Chelsea Flower Show - 22nd to 27th May 2023
Held each year by the Royal Horticultural Society, the Chelsea Flower Show is truly one of the world’s great gardening festivals, and a must for anyone interested in floral displays, and cutting-edge landscape designs.
For five days in May, in west London’s affluent Chelsea neighbourhood, thousands will be flocking to the Royal Hospital, where the show has been held for more than one hundred years. Here, you can check out specialist nurseries that are showcasing their plants for the first time. You can chat with manufacturers launching new lines at their trade stands and gaze at amazing creations from around the world.
You can also just sip coffee or champagne and wander round the Show Gardens, enjoying the amazing scents of spring. What can be better than to be surrounded by glorious colour and wonderful fragrances, before engaging in a bit of retail therapy (the artisan trade stands are packed with garden items that make perfect gifts) or indulge in some luxury dining.
You can still buy tickets online but hurry because this event is incredibly popular! Yes, there’s really nothing like the Chelsea Flower Show.
2. Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms at the Tate Modern - ongoing
Much has been written about the extraordinary Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama but until you’ve seen her work, up close and personal, it’s hard to describe just how compelling it is. Born in Tokyo, but having spent quite a few formative years in the USA, Kusama works primarily with sculptures and installations and her Infinity Rooms (which you can visit at the Tate Modern) are truly an experience like no other.
In fact, due to popular demand, the exhibition has now been extended until September 2023, which means you’ve no excuse not to book a ticket. The Kusama exhibition at the Tate Modern takes place in two rooms - the first named ‘Filled with the Brilliance of Life’ and the second ‘Chandeliers of Grief.’ is mesmerising and hits all of your senses simultaneously.
Heightening all of your senses, and immersing you in a way that makes you feel you’re having an ‘out-of-body’ experience, Kusama’s rooms are a true illusionary immersion, with a repeated use of lights and mirrors. And once you’ve explored them, you can check out the rest of the Tate Modern and then the surrounding area, which includes Borough Market (a foodie paradise), St. Paul’s Cathedral and the South Bank complex.
3. The King’s Coronation - May 6th 2023
It’s been over seven decades since a monarch was crowned in England’s Westminster Abbey so this is shaping up to be quite an occasion. After the death of Elizabeth II, last September, her eldest son automatically became King but this is the ceremony to end all ceremonies - an actual coronation!
From an enormous procession using both the Diamond Jubilee State Coach and the famous Gold Coach, to the actual coronation at Westminster Abbey (the consecrated oil used to anoint the monarch is held in a silver spoon that is hundreds of years old, it’s going to be a great spectacle.
Prepare to be awed as you line the streets (central London will be at a standstill, with many roads closed off) or watch it on a big screen, along with millions of Londoners. And yes, the diamonds in all of those crowns are the real deal.
All across the capital and the country there will be street parties, lunches, and much merriment - and if you don’t have a private event to attend, and you’re in our neighbourhood, then just pop in to one of Hampstead’s best pubs, get chatting to a friendly local and lift your glass to King Charles III.
Trust us, on this day, the eyes of the world will be on London. So why not be here too?
4. ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ - until 6th May 2023
Tennessee Williams’’A Streetcar Named Desire’ is nearing the end of its run in London and its rave reviews mean you should try and grab a ticket before it finishes on May 6th.
Arguably one of the most influential plays of the 20th century, it traces the story of Blanche, a southern belle who is down on her luck and forced to move in with her sister Stella and her rude and uncouth husband Stanley. Inevitably, tensions begin simmering and emotions are soon running high…if any of you have seen the film, starring Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando, you’ll know it’s no picnic at the beach!
This production originally aired at the Almeida Theatre to much acclaim, under the visionary directorship of Rebecca Frecknall (‘Cabaret;). And has now moved to the Phoenix Theatre. Paul Mescal, Patsy Ferran are terrific as Stanley and Blanche and it’s pitch-perfect in terms of melodrama, despair and the crumbling of a woman’s reality.
5. City Splash Festival - May 29th 2023
Can’t wait for the August Bank Holiday, when you can dance your heart out on the pavements of West London, at the Notting Hill Carnival? Well don't despair, because on Bank Holiday Monday - 29th May - you can head south of the river to Brockwell Park, in Brixton, where the City Splash festival is being held.
Celebrating African and Caribbean music, this reggae festival is going to be a lot of fun - with music, cultural activities and street food aplenty. The vibe last year was fabulous, and the thing about this festival is its really intergenerational - for more information about the artists performing, the food on offer and to buy tickets, take a look at their facebook page.
And if you get there early, take a walk around Brixton itself - this lively, bohemian neighbourhood is bursting with character - cafes, bars that host poetry evenings, live music venues and a thriving independent art gallery scene.
Finally, if you’re looking for accommodation in London in May, we can help! Our family-run and family-run guest accommodation in leafy Hampstead has been around for decades and we pride ourselves, and our reputation, on a warm welcome and a cosy atmosphere.
We have singles, twins, doubles and even a family room, and we serve a continental breakfast each morning in our dining room, accompanied by Italian cappuccino which many rave about!
For more about our history, to book a room directly and to read about life in London and Hampstead Village,look at our ‘blog’ or ‘rooms’ section or give us a call on 020 7435-8965/email us at email@example.com.
Happy May everyone.