Find the best May activities with SWR

What’s on in May

27 April 2022

The May Day Bank Holiday, Cinco de Mayo, and flowers everywhere – May is nearly upon us. And while it may be tempting to wait just a little longer until summer begins properly, there’s still plenty to do to keep everyone occupied! From photography exhibits to tulips, and wine to walking tours, May looks set to be an amazing month for doing something new.

What’s on in London this May

London is always a hub of activity – and May is no different. From photography exhibitions to walking tours, and political revolution to flowers, there’s an incredible variety of things to discover.

Discover May’s blooms with these Chelsea Flower Show alternatives

Chelsea in Bloom, 23 to 28 May, 20 minutes from London Waterloo by London Underground; chelseainbloom.co.uk/

The most famous flower show in Britain (and arguably the world) the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is an exceptional event. But if you’re not able to join the 150,000 celebrators of all things horticultural that descend on the show each year, there are plenty of alternatives to see.

Floral display of an octopus at a store for Chelsea in Bloom

If heading to Chelsea is a must, then take a look at Chelsea in Bloom – the free public exhibition that runs alongside the Chelsea Flower Show. With this year’s theme being British Icons, there’s sure to be an outpouring of red, white and blue patriotism and odes to some of our island’s legendary exports – from bulldogs to Bowie.

Alternatively, RHS Garden Wisley is in full spring bloom – with the National Collection of heather in a dazzling display of purple, to the delicate pinks of the late-bloomers in the Jubilee arboretum. Plus, get money off your entry fee when you travel by public transport! Head to Woking station from 2 May to take our new shuttle bus to RHS Garden Wisley.

Celebrate the end of Ramadan with Eid in the Square

Eid in the Square, 7 May, Trafalgar Square, 15 minutes’ walk from London Waterloo; visitlondon.com

Eid in the Square is London’s celebration of the end of Ramadan – now in its 17th year! Developed in partnership with London’s Muslim communities, this vibrant festival brings families and friends together to celebrate one of the world’s biggest religious observances.

Eid in the Square crowds and stage at Trafalgar Square

You’ll find plenty to do here – with street food galore from Mr Bombay, Oshpaz Uzbek, Pebellon and Hooyo East, Eid outfits provided by the Alif carnival company, mehndi and face painting, sporting activities with Muslim Girls Fencing and Sisterhood FC, as well as tours of Trafalgar Square’s rich Muslim history.

Explore the best of international photography at Somerset House

Photo London, 12 to 15 May, Somerset House WC2R 1LA, 15 minutes’ walk from London Waterloo; photolondon.org

Photo London is one of the world’s leading international photography fairs, showcasing the very best of the past, present and future of the craft. From emerging contemporary artists to the historic and iconic masters, you’ll find world-class photography from across the globe here, as well as a stellar series of talks from some of the world’s best photographers.

Amble around Downton Abbey’s London

With the second Downton Abbey movie announced, interest in the hit TV series is growing again – and there’s no better time to explore where this iconic British period drama was filmed! There are a number of options for walking tours, from self-guided (and therefore free!) ambles around the capital to guided tours taking your through the history of the locations and behind-the-scenes detail about how the show was made.

Conspire in 17th century London with Guy Fawkes

The Gunpowder Plot Immersive Experience, 8-12 Tower Hill Vaults EC3N 4EE, 20 minutes from London Waterloo by London Underground; gunpowderimmersive.com

Tom Felton as Guy Fawkes

Become a co-conspirator of one of the world’s most infamous plots with this immersive theatre experience centred around the explosive 1605 Gunpowder Plot. Using a mix of live theatre and digital technology, you’ll be transported to 17th century London, meeting Guy Fawkes (portrayed by Tom Felton) and his co-conspirators as they plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Taking in all five senses, this multi-layered experience will make you feel like you’re there!

What’s on in the south west this May

But it’s not all about London! There’s plenty on across the south west – from discovering the best of English tipple to experiencing the sunset on the stunning Bealieu river.

Stroll through Hampshire with the Alton Walking Festival

Alton Walking Festival, throughout May, various locations around Alton; alton.gov.uk

Two women walking together in the South Downs in Winchester

Whether you’re an enthusiastic walker, a relaxed wanderer or a curious explorer, the Alton Walking Festival is a truly welcoming walking event. With short strolls, long hikes, and even themed walks from foraging to Nordic poles to bat walks – there’s something for even the most casual ambler.

Admire the best of equestrian talent at the Royal Windsor Horse Show

Royal Windsor Horse Show, 12 to 15 May, Home Park, Windsor, 5 minutes’ walk from Windsor & Eton Riverside station; rwhs.co.uk

Horse Guards display at the Royal Windsor Horse Show

A favourite of the Queen herself, the Royal Windsor Horse Show brings together some of the best of British culture with international-standard equestrian sports like carriage driving, endurance and showjumping. Tied together with music by the mounted band of the Household Cavalry, games with the Pony Club, and the Shetland Pony Grand National, and you’ve got the makings of a great day out.

Listen in on some of the best classical music

Investec International Music Festival, 5 to 14 May, various locations in the Surrey Hills; iimf.co.uk

A choir performing in the Investec International Music Festival

Founded in 2010, the Investec International Music Festival brings some of the best of international classical music performances to the Surrey Hills. With a mix of famous artists and renowned orchestras taking part, you’ll also be able to enjoy a variety of intimate venues – from historic country houses and baroque churches to splendid auditoriums.

Explore a vibrant food utopia at Kew Gardens

When Flowers Dream, from 21 May, Shirley Sherwood Gallery, Kew Gardens, 15 minutes' walk from Kew Bridge station; kew.org

Art piece by Pip & Pop at Kew Gardens

An ethereal exhibition by internationally-renowned artist Tanya Schultz (popularly known as Pip & Pop) awaits. When Flowers Dream showcases an eclectic mix of vibrant artworks, all created from everyday materials such as sugar, candy and assorted craft materials – ample inspiration for a little one’s next home project!

Experience the sunset on the water with New Forest Activities

Sunset Chasers Paddling Tours, from May, New Forest Activities, 30 minutes by bus from Brockenhurst station; newforestactivities.co.uk

Kayakers on a lake in the low dusk sun

Now that the evenings are warmer, there’s no better time to get out on the water. New Forest Activities’ Sunset Chasers Paddling Tours let you explore the beautiful Beaulieu river at one of the prettiest times of day, basking in the evening sun as the daytime wildlife start to settle in for the night and nocturnal creatures start their day.

Learn about the magic of science in the movies

Lights, Camera, Science!, Winchester Science Centre, 25 minutes by bus from Winchester station; winchestersciencecentre.org

Children holding a clapper board

While CGI holds pride of place in movie-making, the art of practical effects still holds sway amongst film aficionados. Winchester Science Centre explore how science can be used to create magical light effects in this series of free live shows, with explosive experiments recreating famous moments from some of the most memorable movies – as well as some ‘illuminating’ audience participation!

Once you’ve been wowed, blast off on an adventure into space with two amazing Planetarium shows – exploring the hundreds of moons, planets and stars in Solar System Adventure and a journey from the Big Bang to the future of astronomy in We Are Astronomers.

So once you’ve got an idea for your next great day out, the next bit is easy. Buying your tickets with us means no booking fees, and our promise that you won’t find the same ticket cheaper anywhere else. And don’t forget – you can save on most tickets with your Railcard, whether it’s a Network Railcard just for you, a couples day out with a Two Together Railcard, or even the whole family with the Family and Friends Railcard.