What to get up to in London this bank holiday weekend (2024)

This bank holiday promises a great deal. There are a whole host of major events and exhibitions on in London this month, signalling the start to what’s often referred to as the “summer season”, but this weekend's guide shuns the ordinary in favour of the somewhat lesser-known.

From US comedians making their UK debut to two-day raves, this is a guide for the curious. We also have news of a huge celebration of African culture and a live music festival in South London.

As ever, there is food and drink galore, with a new sun trap terrace to keep revellers happy in the heat, and restaurant openings which promise east London a slice of European grandeur.

This bank holiday weekend, take a leaf (or two) out of this book and discover something somewhat off the beaten track.

The hot table: The Brush Grand Café

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Charlie McKay

Grand cafes are normally the sort of thing you’d find in Paris or Vienna, or perhaps Mayfair, but hip Hoxton is getting a touch of Euro glamour with the opening of Brush. A menu of all-day dining classics such as roast chicken and wiener schnitzel sit alongside a range of trendy flatbreads and smartly made co*cktails. A bank holiday boozy brunch belter.

84-86 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3JL, thebrushhoxton.co.uk

The old favourite: Kricket Soho

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Kricket first appeared in Pop Brixton nearly a decade ago and in that time the vibrant modern Indian restaurant has gone from strength to strength. Their Soho restaurant feels as tightly put together as ever with rousing tomato pani puri, kashmiri lamb ribs and “Keralan Fried Chicken”: a more than acceptable riff on a famous fast food brand.

12 Denman Street, W1D 7HJ, kricket.co.uk

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Caitlin Isola

Taking over the vast suntrap that is the Weston Terrace at the National, Forza Taps is the latest offering from the successful Forza Wine and and Forza Win collective. Serving on-tap drinks, alongside a few signature “Italian-ish” snacks, expect seasonal, sunny things — think basil and pork-grattato and courgettes with garlic and mint — and more than a few of the venue’s famous “Custardos” (coffee and custard).

National Theatre, SE1 9PX, forzawine.com

The dinner party: Close Ties at Carousel

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A catered party ‘til late? No reservations, £5 on the door, and DJs, this is about as close to a wine rave as one can get. Joshua Bratt of Carousel and Jake Norman of Trullo have teamed up with Diarmuid Goodwin of Sager + Wilde to serve some seasonal plates alongside glasses of “undiscovered gems” of the natty wine world. A proper little party.

£5 on the door, May 26, 19-23 Charlotte Street, W1T 1RW, carousel-london.com

The culture fix: Fragile Beauty

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The V&A’s latest oversized photography exhibition feels less bloated and more encyclopaedic. It amasses a vast catalogue of images from Sir Elton John and partner David Furnish’s private collection, exploring fashion, portraiture, culture, style and the thread connecting it all: beauty. Tickets are scarce, so grab one while you can.

V&A, Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL, vam.ac.uk

The art fix: Bloomsbury women outdoors

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Vanessa Bell, Garden at Monk's House, Sussex, 1947 © Bradford Museums & Galleries

© Estate of Vanessa Bell. All rights reserved, DACS 2023 / Bridgeman Images

Another newly opened show arrives from the Garden Museum, Lambeth, with a special focus on the green spaces which surrounded the women of the famed Bloomsbury set. From Virginia Woolf and her garden at Monk’s House to arts patron and photographer Lady Ottoline Morrell who presided over Garsington Manor, this exhibition explores the impact these gardens and landscapes had on this most influential cohort.

5 Lambeth Palace Road, SE1 7LB, gardenmuseum.org.uk

The floral day out: Chelsea in Bloom

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Produced alongside the RHS flower show (also on this week) Chelsea in Bloom is the more relaxed, open floral display which spans a greater area within SW3. Pleasingly, this year's theme (Floral Feasts) lends a little focus on the food of Chelsea, with edible elements to some of the street-side installations and restaurants from the Cadogan Arms to the Surprise, each serving special dishes.

Across Chelsea, Until May 26, chelseainbloom.co.uk

The market: Pop Up Africa

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Over in Spitalfields this weekend some 60 traders and vendors, restaurants and craftspeople are setting up shop to celebrate all things African, with an emphasis on West African dining. Alongside all that food, Culture Tree’s documentary ÀWÒRÁN is set to be screened.

May 27, Brushfield Street, E1 6AA,spitalfields.co.uk

The untold story: Women of the RNLI

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The latest National Maritime Museum exhibition celebrates the lives of the pioneering women who helped found the RNLI and who continue to support the charity’s operations today. Marking 200 years of the RNLI, the exhibition touches on personal essays from volunteers, photography and documentary film to showcase this little-talked-about part of the organisation’s rich history.

National Maritime Museum, Romney Road, SE10 9NF, www.rmg.co.uk

The all-nighter: HOME 10th anniversary party

In Greenwich, the tenth anniversary party for 338 Studio sees a stellar line up of DJs on from around 4pm Sunday until the wee hours of Monday. In other words: a true all-nighter. Expect techno and house from headliner DJ Raresh and more relaxed beats from the well-known Priku in the gorgeous covered-and-open-air venue. A ravers’ paradise.

338 Boord Street, SE10 0PF, studio338.co.uk

The comedy ticket: London Real Deal Comedy Jam

Making his UK debut, actor Jordan Rock — who starred in the Netflix show “Love” in 2016 — takes to the comedy stage alongside seasoned comedians Shabbz Kariem, Kyrah Gray and Wilson Milton. Rock, brother to the more famous Chris, is punishingly self-aware (self-styled as “the most affordable Rock”) and this bank holiday special, hosted inside the famed arches under Waterloo, should be a treat.

May 25, 26 Leake Street, SE1 7RY, eventbrite.co.uk

The festival: Wide Awake

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Young Fathers and Slowdive headline this thumping Brockwell Park festival. Promising to showcase the most interesting up-and-coming musicians in a line up alongside a range of established favourites, the festival is a blend of eclectic genres, all fiercely independent and, where possible, locally sourced (such as south London’s own Fat Dog).

May 25, Brockwell Park Gardens, SE24 0NG, wideawakelondon.co.uk

The ticket to book now (for later): Michael Caines X Atul Kochhar four hands dinner

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Later this month, chef Atul Kochhar is set to welcome one of Britain’s most celebrated chefs, Michael Caines MBE, to his Mayfair restaurant Kanishka, for the next instalment of his four hands dinner series. The menu is set to include scallop tartare, roasted best end of Devon lamb, and a roasted quail with onion and truffle confit. A blow-out dinner for the end of the month? Something to look forward to.

May 30, Kanishka, 17-19 Maddox Street, W1S 2QH, kanishkarestaurant.co.uk

What to get up to in London this bank holiday weekend (2024)


Are London attractions open on bank holidays? ›

Public holidays in the UK are known as bank holidays. These are days when banks are closed, most Londoners get the day off and local children are out of school. Luckily for visitors, a vast majority of London attractions remain open on bank holidays with the exception of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

What's on in London on May bank holiday? ›

All weekend
  • Foodies Festival is at Syon Park all weekend.
  • Princess Diana: Accredited Access Exhibition opens in east London. ...
  • Be among the first to see Birds: Brilliant and Bizarre. ...
  • Crystal Palace Beer Festival takes place at Selhurst Park.
  • Dunkirk at the Docks takes place all weekend.

What closes in London on a bank holiday? ›

Traditionally, every establishment would shut on a bank holiday. This included banks, offices, shops and restaurants. However, these days, only banks are required to shut and it's optional for other places to close or remain open.

Where can I go on bank holidays in the UK? ›

18 of the best places to go for a bank holiday weekend
  • Go puffin-peeking on Lundy Island. ...
  • Watch the sunsets in Dungeness. ...
  • Enjoy a wild weekend on Shetland. ...
  • Go hiking and stargazing on the North York Moors. ...
  • Lose yourself in Bannau Brycheiniog. ...
  • Take the slow boat to Saint-Malo. ...
  • Take a seaside break in Jersey.
May 20, 2024

Is Tower of London open on bank holidays? ›

Tower of London Opening Times

The Tower of London is open daily except on the 24, 25, 26 December and 1 January. Summer Opening - 1 March - 31 October: Tuesday-Saturday: 09:00-17:30. Sunday-Monday: 10:00-17:30.

Is there tube on bank holiday? ›

There is no service on Saturdays, Sundays and on public/bank holidays.

Do trains run on bank holidays London? ›

Train travel during bank holidays

Train services still run over bank holidays, although there could be disruptions with some routes having a reduced timetable, and a few closed completely.

Is everything closed on bank holiday in the UK? ›

In the United Kingdom, public holidays are days on which most businesses and non-essential services are closed. Many retail businesses (especially the larger ones) do open on some of the public holidays.

What day is everything closed in London? ›

Most attractions are open every day. Most attractions are closed on Christmas Day, and some on other Bank Holidays like Easter Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Do try a Please or Thank you though, it's so much more endearing. There is no regular closing day as far as I know.

Is there a difference between a bank holiday and a public holiday UK? ›

The term “bank” holiday is used interchangeably with “public” holiday. For all practical purposes there is no difference. There is, however, an academic difference between bank holidays derived from statute and public holidays at common law (such as Christmas Day in England and Wales). advice of the relevant Minister.

Why is it called bank holiday in UK? ›

In the UK, we've had official bank holidays since 1871, when they were formally recognised by an Act of Parliament. On these days, banks were allowed to close, which is where the name comes from. It wasn't long, however, before other types of businesses and schools began to close their doors as well.

What to do for the bank holiday? ›

With that in mind, here's a full list of 20 interesting, fun bank holiday activities to keep boredom at bay.
  1. HAVE A BBQ. ...
  4. HAVE A MOVIE DAY. ...
  6. 6. … ...

Are shops open in England on bank holidays? ›

In England and Wales, small shops (i.e. those up to and including 280 metres squared) can operate at any day or hour; shops larger than this are required to close on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, and must stick to Sunday trading hours on other bank holidays (i.e. only open for six consecutive hours between 10am and ...

What does a bank holiday mean in London? ›

In the United Kingdom and Ireland a bank holiday is a public holiday, when banks and many other businesses are closed for the day. Bank holidays are often assumed to be so called because they are days upon which banks are shut, but days that banks are shut aren't always bank holidays.

What day are museums closed in London? ›

Everything is open on a Sunday and Monday in London. Think you are getting confused with Paris where some museums do close on a Monday or Tuesday. The Geffrye Museum is closed on Monday. The Handel House Museum is closed on Monday.

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