Let the force be with you - and lead you through the two-foor, multi-million pound Star Wars experience at Madame Tussauds which opens in London in May 2015. More than snapping a selfie with life-like wax figures, the Star Wars attraction has authentic walk-in sets, special effects and 11 separate sets which faithfully reproduce the film's most memorable scenes. You can imagine you're Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back as you step into Yoda's swamp, and feel the fiery lava of Mustafar as Anakin turns to the dark side in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Fans can come face-to-face with Stormtroopers, witness Luke Skywalker as he battles Darth Vader on the Death Star and join the captive Princess Leia and the evil Jabba the Hutt in his Throne Room. Hang out with Han Solo in the cantina before stepping onto the Millennium Falcon with Wookiee warrior, Chewbacca.
May in London
Waxwork models, walk-in sets and special effects faithfully reproduce the film's most memorable scenes.
Madame Tussauds, Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LR
Dates: From 01st May 2015
A weekend of belly laughs from bright young British comedic talent.
Backyard Bar & Kitchen, 231 Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 0EL
Tube: Bethnal Green Station
Dates: 1st to 4th May 2014 - Various Times
Returning for a third year, the London Sketchfest brings a weekend of belly laughs from unsigned sketch comedy talent to award-winning acts from across Britain to London. While this year's line-up has yet to be announced, the organisers have confirmed there will be an action-packed line-up with competition shows presenting undiscovered new and unsigned acts; feature shows from a range of the best acts from around the UK; variety shows; and sketch screen - a cinema and comedy video competition. Described as "Weird, wide-ranging and whimsical" by The Telegraph at its debut, London Sketchfest has reinvigorated a sketch scene increasingly overshadowed by all-conquering stand-up megastars, and gives us all a chance to see bright young British comedic talent live and under one roof before they make it big on the small screen.
A celebration of hip hop dance culture.
Sadler's Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN
Tube: Angel Station
Dates: 3rd and 4th May 2014 at 6pm & 5th May 2014 at 6.30pm
This annual four-day international festival of hip hop and dance theatre, curated by Sadler's Wells associate artist Jonzi D, is back for a twelfth year in 2015. Breakin' Convention 2015 features performances from some of the world's greatest poppers, lockers, B-boys and B-girls. Taking place every May bank holiday weekend, this world-renowned celebration of hip hop dance culture takes over the space with live DJs, graffiti, workshops, performances, after parties and park jam. Expect a frenzy of cutting-edge performances with one head-spinning act after another taking to the stage to wow the audience. It's all hosted by Jonzi D, a central force in bringing street culture to Britain in the early 80s. Alongside world class performances the weekend is packed with live aerosol jams, workshop programmes, DJ demos and freestyle circles. The full line-up is announced in March 2015.
A free, open air concert featuring works by the mid-century Russian master Dmitri Shostakovich.
Trafalgar Square, Central, London, WC2N 5DS
Dates: Saturday 2nd May 2015
The London Symphony Orchestra once again presents the BMW LSO Open Air Classics in Trafalgar Square. The free, open-air concert led by Principal Conductor Valery Gergiev will this year feature works by the mid-century Russian master Dmitri Shostakovich - the full programme and date are yet to be announced. Large screens will be erected in the Square to allow everyone a close-up view of the concert.
For people passionate about home and garden design.
ExCel London Exhibition Centre, One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, London, E16 1XL
Tube: Canning Town Station
Dates: 2nd to 10th May 2015
Based on the hugely popular Channel 4 TV series, in which the general public aim to build their dream homes, the multi-award winning Grand Designs Live returns to ExCel Centre this spring. Presented by design guru Kevin McCloud, the show is the perfect place to come for ideas and inspiration for the home with over 500 exhibitors, top TV celebrities, shopping and fabulous show features. Whether you're building a conservatory, renovating a new home or just trying to sort out your hideous living room, there will be something for you at this ultimate exhibition for people passionate about home and garden design.
A wonderful waterway festival which takes place in Little Venice.
Little Venice, Maida Vale, Little Venice, London, W2 1TH
Tube: Warwick Avenue Station
Dates: 2nd, 3rd and 4th May 2015
Canalway Cavalcade is a distinctive waterway festival that has been taking place at Little Venice since 1983. Organised by Inland Waterways Association volunteers, there will be an array of boats, trade show stalls and boater gatherings at this festival for water lovers. As well as the boating activities, there will also be Morris dancing, competitions, food, family-friendly activities and a real ale bar, making it an enjoyable day out for families. Plus, with the location being quaint Little Venice, this creates the perfect opportunity for a gentle stroll and an enjoyable view alongside your lunch and ale.
'Mr Turner' Film maker Mike Leigh stages his first opera.
London Coliseum - English National Opera (ENO), St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4ES
Dates: 9th May to 27th June 2015 - Various Times
One of the most "eye-catching elements" of the ENO's 2014/15 season is Mike Leigh's The Pirates of Penzance. "Leigh's interest in Gilbert and Sullivan is well known" according to The Guardian which goes on to cite his 1999 film Topsy-Turvy "about the pair's fraught working relationship". Writing in that paper, Leigh has said the operas have "often been misunderstood" and they had "their dark side, their hard edge". So can we expect a menacing undercurrent to this much-loved comic opera? Leigh has also assembled a superb cast including Andrew Shore as the very model of a modern Major-General, Jonathan Lemalu as the affectionate parody of the British bobby, Robert Murray as the innocent pirate-apprentice Frederic, and Rebecca de Pont Davies as the older woman who has designs on him.
The half marathon returns, moving from June to May.
Hackney Marshes, Homerton Road, London, E9 5PF
Dates: Sunday 10th May 2015
Following a hot and sweaty launch in 2014, Run Hackney returns for its second year in 2015. Held on what turned out to be one of 2014's hottest days, last year's race was a gruelling affair for participants so we're glad to report that this year it has been brought forward from June to May. This year also offers an improved route through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a free technical t-shirt for each runner, more live entertainment, and an increase in the number of water stations and mist showers. Roads across the borough will once again be closed to cars allowing for the thousands of runners to speed across the flat course through one of London's greenest boroughs, taking in sites such as the Hackney Downs, London Fields and Victoria Park.
Dozens of puppeteers celebrate Punch's birthday.
St Paul's Covent Garden, Bedford Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9ED
Dates: Sunday 10th May 2015
This annual Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival celebrates the red nosed stick-wielding puppet, bringing together dozens of puppeteers in a colourful, highly entertaining afternoon. The annual celebrations in Covent Garden draw puppeteers from all over the country as well as folk music, dancers, clowns, jugglers and stalls. The location is appropriately close to the spot where Samuel Pepys first sighted Mr Punch on 9th May 1662 and recorded the fact in his diary - which is why the birthday celebrations fall on or near to 9th May. The day's events start with a toast to Mr Punch, and a brass band led Grand Procession starting at St Paul's Church garden, a beautiful little oasis in the city centre. There follows a special service with a sermon administered by Rev Mark Oakley and Mr Punch himself. An integral part of British heritage, the puppet with attitude is a wonderful, anarchic figure and this is a top traditional family day out.
Wayne McGregor presents his ballet based on the writings and life of Virginia Woolf.
Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London, WC2E 9DD
Dates: 11th to 26th May 2015
In summer 2015 Wayne McGregor presents his first full length ballet for The Royal Ballet. Woolf Works, based on the writings and life of Virginia Woolf, has a newly commissioned score by Max Richter, composer of McGregor's award winning ballet Infra. Costume designs are by Moritz Junge who also designed the costumes for the Olivier Award winning Chroma, with lighting by Lucy Carter and film design by Ravi Deepres. Alessandra Ferri, former Royal Ballet Principal, returns to perform this new work.
The full ranks of Tredegar Town Band accompany Rambert's dancers live on stage.
Sadler's Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 4TN
Tube: Angel Station
Dates: 12th to 16th May 2015
Live on the Sadler's Wells stage, the full ranks of Tredegar Town Band accompany Rambert's dancers in the world premiere of Dark Arteries, presenting the world's first brass band dance work. Part of a mixed bill presented by Rambert Dance Company at Sadler's Wells, the premiere is choreographed by Rambert's Artistic Director Mark Baldwin to a specially composed score by Gavin Higgins, a former Rambert Music Fellow who comes from a family of brass band musicians and who wrote the opening work for this year's Last Night of the Proms.
Puppets and live actors are used to explore the painful transition from childhood to adult life.
Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill, London, SE10 8ES
Dates: 12th to 24th May 2015
Hit American puppet musical Avenue Q comes to the Greenwich Theatre in May. Previously staged at numerous theatres across London as well as across the world, the show is back with more mischief, bad behaviour and political incorrectness. Created by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, co-creator of the Book of Mormon, it uses puppets and live actors to explore the painful transition from childhood to adult life, where the realisation of the 'real world's' limitations hit you.
See up to 70 London museums after all the visitors have gone home.
Museum of London, 150 Wall, City, London, EC2Y 5HN
Dates: 14th, 15th and 16th May 2015
Around 70 London venues typically take part in this after-hours event which opens up our landmark museums for a weekend of special, exclusive viewings and events, promises to be equally popular. If you think the idea of spending the night in a dusty old museum sounds a bit dull then Museums at Night, will make you think again. Previous participants have enjoyed sunset hovercraft rides, live action cluedo, toy sleepovers and tunnel tours by lantern-light. Leading London institutions like the RAF Museum, Museum of London, Apsley House, William Morris Gallery, British Postal Museum, London Transport Museum, Benjamin Franklin House, and even The Supreme Court have all previously taken part so you can expect museums, galleries and heritage sites like these to be involved again this year.
Gurinder Chadha's hit film scores a hit on the London stage.
Phoenix Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0JP
Dates: 15th May to 11th July 2015
Twelve years after the box office success of Gurinder Chadha's hit film, Bend It Like Beckham comes to the London stage in a musical stage adaptation of the British comedy in which two teenage girls set out to make careers as professional footballers. The film's director and writer Gurinder Chadha returns for the stage adaptation with original music for the show, produced by Sonia Friedman, written by Howard Goodall, and lyrics by Charles Hart. The story of film that launched the career of Keira Knightley, is set in 2001 and this stage version, which opens at the Phoenix Theatre in May 2015, touches on themes of race, inclusiveness and "the very human warmth about who we are as a nation", Gurinder said in an interview with The Guardian.
Motown favourites performed live by Human Nature with support from Smokey Robinson.
Hammersmith Apollo, 45 Queen Caroline Street, London, W6 9QH
Tube: Hammersmith Station
Dates: Friday 15th May 2015
The Australian four-piece Human Nature - Toby Allen, Phil Burton and brothers Andrew and Michael Tierney - is supported by the American singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson who are accompanied by their band, The Funk Foundation in a show featuring many Motown favourites. Robinson, who was vice president of Motown records until the company was sold in 1994, wrote and produced Motown hits for bands like The Temptations and The Miracles, the band he founded while still in high school, and for solo singers Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, and Marvin Gaye. Well known songs like 'The Way You Do the Things You Do,' 'My Girl', 'Get Ready' and 'My Guy' are just some of the hits he wrote during that time. This performance, their first ever solo London concert, is part of the group's 25th anniversary celebrations.
The magical Regent's Park Open Air Theatre opens with Peter Pan on 15th May 2015.
Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, Inner Circle, Regent's Park, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4NR
Tube: Regent's Park Station
Dates: 15th May to 12th September 2015
A visit to the magical Regent's Park Open Air Theatre really is an essential part of spending summer in London, and this season's programme opens with Peter Pan with J.M. Barrie's original stage play launching the 2015 season on 15th May 2015. This will be followed by The Seagull (19th June until 11th July) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (from 16th July to 29th August). Following sell-out performances in 2011, Timothy Sheader's production of William Golding's Lord of the Flies will then return to the Open Air Theatre from 3rd until 12th September to conclude the 2015 season, prior to a major UK tour.
The burlesque festival returns bigger and better than before.
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, Soho, London, WC1R 4RL
Dates: 15th to 31st May 2015
Madame JoJo's may have sadly closed but that doesn't mean burlesque is a dying art - for the London Burlesque Festival returns and is running for an extended period (increased from 11 to 17 days) in 2015, brought to you by the infamous King of Burlesque, Chaz Royal, the man behind the hilariously named 'Pavabotti - The Naked Tenor'. What was initially a weekend of glitz, vaudeville and sizzling striptease is now a whole two weeks of raucous exotic entertainment showcasing the very best in British burlesque and beyond. Taking place at more venues than last year - Dingwalls, The Grand Hall, Kings Cross, Fiddlers Elbow, Bush Hall and Conway Hall - the festival opens and closes with glittering ceremonies. Further highlights include the Best of British, with a display of the most talented and unique burlesque and variety acts from London and the rest of the UK; Hollywood Revive, an evening of star-studded glamour to play tribute to the greatest film stars from the silver screen; and Twisted Cabaret, the weird and wonderful scene of alternative cabaret. The festival also includes the Big Burlesque Day Out at Conway Hall, a day event including a vintage market, music and cocktails. If you crave suspenders, stockings, whips, lace, red lips, lascivious ladies, pert posteriors and a bit of a slap 'n' tickle then this is the event for your diary.
Natural, organic and biodynamic wines to quaff.
The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, Spitalfields, London, E1 6QL
Tube: Aldgate East Station
Dates: Sunday 17th and Monday 18th May 2015
With the promise of healthy wine - well, healthier - the RAW Artisan Wine Fair at the Old Truman Brewery is an independent event that celebrates high quality, pure wine. Organised by Isabelle Legeron, the two-day independent event invites more than 150 growers to showcase their wines, many of which feature on the lists of the world's best restaurants, so that wine lovers, connoisseurs and curious beginners can try these exceptional wines. There will be growers from Australia, Chile, France, Italy, Switzerland and many more showcasing natural, organic and biodynamic blends. There will also be talks by industry experts and plenty of artisan food to feast on.
Three-day festival celebrating the creativity and technology in design.
Crypt on the Green, Clerkenwell Close, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 0EA
Tube: Farringdon Station
Dates: 19th, 20th and 21st May 2015
Taking place at some of the more unusual locations in Clerkenwell - The Farmiloe Building, and the Priory of the Order of St John - Clerkenwell Design Week is a three-day festival celebrating the creativity, social relevance and advancements in technology behind design. Now in its sixth year, the festival expands within the existing four focused exhibitions. The Design Factory is where you'll find present high-profile brands, the Farmiloe Building is dedicated to lighting, and Platform showcases the work of talented, up-and-coming designers in the subterranean Victorian prison at the House of Detention. Additions, new to the festival in 2014, once again takes over the Crypt on the Green at St. James Church. With new design pieces, commissioned projects, street spectacles and pop-up workshops as well as high profile speakers - including Ron Arad, Arik Levy and Sir Peter Cook in 2014 - this really is a must-visit event for architects, designers and anyone interested in design.
Wonderful showcase of blooms and celebrities.
Royal Hospital Chelsea, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4SR
Tube: Sloane Square Station
Dates: 19th to 23rd May 2015
Held in the grounds of the Chelsea Royal Hospital since 1913, the Chelsea Flower Show, is the finest of the Royal Horticultural Society shows. Regarded as a highpoint of the London summer season, the Chelsea Flower Show is a wonderful showcase of blooms and celebrities - even the Queen attends. Particularly spectacular are the gardens created by eight hundred of the greatest exponents of imaginative garden design, who spend nearly a month creating a horticultural wonderland over the 11-acre site. This beautiful and inspiring show is a real treat, even for non-gardeners.
Bradley Cooper reprises his role as Joseph Merrick.
Haymarket Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4HT
Dates: 19th May to 8th August 2015
Bradley Cooper reprised his 2012 role of Joseph Merrick in Bernard Pomerance's Tony Award-winning The Elephant Man last year on Broadway, which is still enjoying a record-breaking run, and now the play is set to transfer to the West End. Staged at the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a limited 12-week run, the production sees the three-time Oscar-nominated actor perform alongside Patricia Clarkson as Mrs Kendal and Alessandro Nivola as Dr Treves. Adhering to Pomerance's original portrayal, Cooper will not wear prosthetic makeup for the performance and instead distorts his body and face to allow the audience to imagine Merrick's appearance.
180 galleries show works by well known artists like Yinka Shonibare and Ai WeiWei under one roof.
Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, London, W14 8UX
Dates: 21st, 22nd and 23rd May 2015
For the third edition of Art15 the global art fair at Olympia gets a new director. Kate Bryan, previously Director of Contemporary Art at The Fine Art Society, London's oldest dealership based on New Bond Street, steps into the shoes of Stephanie Dieckvoss as the fair's director. But the fair continues as it set out, as a showcase for art's emerging markets with contemporary works in a variety of media by international artists including Yinka Shonibare, Ai WeiWei, Leah Capaldi, Lothar Gotz and Liliane Lijn. Expect around 180 galleries represented from as many as 38 different countries at a fair "designed to appeal to the collector who wants to add something new and different and a little high-risk to his or her portfolio" (Wallpaper).
Battle Royale actor Tatsuya Fujiwara stars in this adaptation of Hamlet.
Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS
Dates: 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th May 2015
As well as the highly anticipated production starring Benedict Cumberbatch later in the year, the Barbican is also staging a Ninagawa Company production of Hamlet in 2015. As part of a celebration of Ninagawa's eightieth birthday, the new version of Shakespeare's classic stars popular Japanese actor Tatsuya Fujiwara, best known for his roles in the Battle Royale films, in the title role. Fujiwara became the youngest Hamlet in Japanese theatrical history in 2003, aged just 21.
Simon Russell Beale plays the Dean of St Paul's in Steve Waters' new play.
The Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9LD
Dates: 21st May to 25th July 2015
Steve Waters' new play, Temple, takes audiences to the heart of 2011's Occupy London crisis at St Paul's Cathedral. The fictional account of the events will focus on the Dean of St Paul's, with Simon Russell Beale playing the Dean, and how the cathedral, which had remained open through the Blitz, flood warnings and terrorist threats, had to close its doors. Howard Davies directs the piece.
Japanese Academy Award-winning star Rie Miyazawa stars in this production.
Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS
Dates: 28th, 29th and 30th May 2015
The second Ninagawa Company production to be staged at the Barbican this May, this theatrical adaptation of Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore stars the Japanese Academy Award-winning star of The Twilight Samurai, Rie Miyazawa. A mind-bending novel by one of Japan's most widely read and highly regarded authors, Kafka on the Shore comprises of two distinct but unrelated plots, running back and forth between the two. One follows 15-year-old Kafka and his story of running away from his family while the other tells the story of Nakata, whose hunt for a lost cat takes him on the road for the first time in his life.
The oldest fair dealing in classic books in the world.
Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, London, W14 8UX
Dates: 28th, 29th and 30th May 2015
At 59 years of age, The London International Antiquarian Book Fair (LIABF) is almost as old as some of the classic tomes on display. Held at Olympia, the LIABF is the oldest such book fair in the world, attracting exhibitors from North America, Canada, Australia, Europe you name it. The fair will be brimming with printed works dating from the 15th to the 21st centuries including manuscripts, prints, ephemera, photographs, maps and atlases from all ages and from all corners of the globe. But you don't have to be a collector to enjoy all that's on offer, the LIABF is ideal for any book lover with a curious eye and an interest in history. Who knows, you might even find the perfect present for a friend or loved one (remember, Father's Day is just around the corner...). Tickets are free if you register in advance, if not you'll have to pay ten pounds on the door. Take time out between browsing the ancient books, maps and manuscripts with a drink or bite from the downstairs cafe. There's even a bar selling alcoholic drinks just in case you need some Dutch courage before making an indulgent purchase.
Hyde Park has firmly established as the venue for one of the world's most iconic triathlons.
Hyde Park, Rangers Lodge, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH
Tube: Knightsbridge Station
Dates: Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st May 2015
Following the overwhelming success of the 2012 Olympics and a spectacular ITU World Triathlon Series grand final, hosted here in September last year, London's Hyde Park has firmly established as the venue for one of the world's most iconic triathlons. The event returns on the last weekend of May 2015, bringing together triathletes of all levels, from future stars to Olympic medallists to weekend warriors. The course is more or less identical to the one used during London 2012, setting the scene perfectly for a dramatic showdown between 2012 medallists the Brownlee brothers, who will be joined by 5,000 of the world's top triathletes (from varying age-groups) over six days of action in and around the Serpentine Boating Lake, culminating in the elite women's and men's races. Many thousands of spectators are expected to watch the superstars of the London 2012 Olympic Games and 2013 World Championships return to the UK's home of triathlon.
2nd March 2015
IN THIS ARTICLE
Star Wars at Madame Tussauds
BMW LSO Open Air Classics: Shostakovich
Grand Designs Live
English National Opera: The Pirates of Penzance
Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival
Rambert with Tredegar Town Band and the Rambert Orchestra
Museums at Night
Bend It Like Beckham
Smokey Robinson Presents Human Nature: The Motown Show
Open Air Theatre
London Burlesque Festival
RAW Artisan Wine Fair
Clerkenwell Design Week
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
The Elephant Man
Ninagawa Company: Hamlet
Ninagawa Company: Kafka on the Shore
The London International Antiquarian Book Fair
ITU World Triathlon London
London Events 2015
January in London
February in London
March in London
April in London
May in London
June in London
London 2015: Major Art
London 2015: Major Museums
London 2015: Mainstream Theatre
London 2015: Fringe Theatre
London 2015: Small Museums
London 2015: Classical Music, Ballet, Dance and Opera
London 2015: New Openings
- January in London
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