What’s on May 2017


It’s Bank Holidays galore this month.

Whether you’re planning to spend time where you live, or indulge in long weekends away, there’s plenty going on up and down the country. For inspiration on where to find the action, check out our Futon Company What’s On guide and see what’s happening across the UK in May 2017…


The Scottish Kennel Club Show
Taking place at the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh West, from 19th-21st May, the Show will see dogs being judged on a number of factors including temperament and wellbeing, as they compete for the ultimate ‘Best in Show’ prize and the chance to qualify for the world’s greatest ever dog show – Crufts.  There will also be the opportunity to spoil your pooch with the vast array of trade stands selling all kinds of doggy wares.  Visitors can bring their own dogs along to the show, as long as they are over four months old.

Whisky Month
Whisky is Scotland’s national drink and the country loves it so much that each year a whole month is dedicated to it!  May is officially Whisky Month, with World Whisky Day on 20th May.  All you need to get involved is a dram of whisky, which can be enjoyed with friends at home or in the pub.  If you want to join in a whisky tour or tasting, there are many events to choose from.  For more information go to

The Tomb@ Ancient Egyptian Burial
The Tomb comes to the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Old Town from now until 3rd September 2017.  It was constructed in the great city of Thebes shortly after the reign of Tutankhamen for the Chief of Police and his wife.  It was looted and reused several times, leaving behind a collection of beautiful objects from various eras.  These are on display at the exhibition alongside objects found in nearby tombs, giving a sense of how burial in ancient Egypt changed over time.  The tomb’s final use occurred shortly after the Roman conquest of Egypt, when it was sealed intact with the remarkable burials of an entire family.


Kitchen Garden Open Day
Visit the walled Kitchen Garden of Chiswick House on one of the free open days and enjoy the plentiful displays of flowers and produce.  The walled gardens are not part of the public park but they can be visited and enjoyed on May 21st, when volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and talk about the garden and its development as well as volunteering opportunities.  Visitors will be able to purchase Kitchen Garden produce, herbs and plants.  All funds raised support the continued preservation of Chiswick House Gardens.

Chiswick Car Boot Sale
The monthly Car Boot Sale at Chiswick School, Burlington Lane, W4 3UN, will be held on May 7th, open for sellers from 7am.  Buying starts at 8am and the event closes at 1pm.  All money raised from the entrance fee goes to the school.

Chiswick Food Market
Open every Sunday come rain or shine from 10am to midday at Dukes Meadows Trust Pavilion Car Park W4 2RX, the market is a social enterprise and proceeds made from running it are used to improve and maintain both the local meadows and the surrounding riverside area.  Features around 25 top producers from around the country.


Throw caution to the wind.  Be led into temptation.  Unmask Casanova with Northern Ballet.  Consumed by his desires, Casanova lived every minute in a whirlwind of scandal and excel.  But there’s more to the man.  This original ballet will expose a story so sensational you won’t believe it’s real.  3rd to 6th May 2017 at The Lowry.

Greater Manchester Walking Festival
The third Greater Manchester Walking Festival takes place this May with 300 free guided walks across the region.  Co-ordinated by Transport for Greater Manchester, there will be walks for all ages, abilities and interests taking in towns, cities, parks, canals and riversides, as well as hills and moors.  Special-interest and themed walks include a ghost walk, a Gruffalo walk for young families and a birdsong walk.  There’s also a first for the festival – an Art Walk organised by Castlefield Gallery and HOME Manchester, including a whistle-stop tour of some of Manchester’s top exhibitions.  From 1st-31st May at various venues across Greater Manchester.

The Ukulele Orchestra
They walk on stage with only a ukulele each, and from their formal black-tie opening, proceed to tear the house down as they wow the audience and make friends everywhere.  Sunday 21st May at The Lowry.


World of Watercolours with Gary Bosher
Come along to Gary Bosher’s World of Watercolours at West Oxford Community Centre, Botley Road, on Sunday 7th May from 10.30am-noon.  This is a taster session but you will leave with your first masterpiece!  £15 taster, £17.50 thereafter.

Abingdon Jazz Festival
Brilliant musical performances across Abingdon on May 12th and 13th.  From afternoon concerts for the whole family to late night jam sessions.  Featuring youth big bands, local musicians and special guests.  The festival will be centred in the beautiful Abby Buildings.

Ashmolean Museum
Contained in a gorgeous building across from the Randolph Hotel, the Ashmolean has paintings, coins, musical instruments and antiques, statues of deities and a must see Egyptian exhibition.  Open every day.  Free admission.


Skeletons:  Our Buried Bones at M Shed
Twelve human skeletons from Bristol and London, each with a unique story to tell.  A young man buried without ceremony in South Gloucestershire 3,500 years ago.  A Roman couple found in a single stone coffin and a child from a Victorian burial ground.  They reflect society’s rich and varied past and the changing face of the places we live and work in today.  The exhibition is a collaboration between Wellcome Collection and The Museum of London, showing at Bristol’s M Shed from now until 3rd September.

Bristol Walking Festival
Taking place throughout the whole of May 2017, the annual Walking Festival is the UK’s largest urban celebration of walking.  There will be walking events taking place across Bristol featuring clearly graded walks and events and a wide range of themes, activities and interests.  There’s something for everyone and most walks are free of charge.

Lace in Fashion
Designer pieces and those worn by royalty rub shoulders at Bath Fashion Museum – just a 15 minute train journey from Bristol.  On show from now until January 2018.


Fashion on a Ration
Refresh your clothes in a thrifty and fun fashion swish on May 27th at Nottingham Castle from 10am-5pm.  Located at Brewhouse Yard Museum, revamp a piece of clothing and enjoy World War II nostalgia.  Suitable for all ages.

Lone Wolf of the Skies
Lone World of the Skies – The Life of Albert Ball VC, DSO & Two Bard, MC remembers the life of Captain Albert Ball.  Born and bred in Nottingham, Albert joined the Sherwood Foresters when war broke out in 1914 and later transferred to the Royal Flying Corps.  One of Nottingham’s most decorated servicemen and flying ace of the First World War, he was just 20 years old when he was killed in action on May 7th 1917.  The exhibition explores his life from start to finish though the objects that he owned.  The exhibition seeks to commemorate the Centenary of Albert’s death and pay homage to him and examine the legacy which he left behind.  Open until 17th July at Nottingham Castle.

Cave Tours
Take a tour to experience the caves at Nottingham Castle for yourself, learning on the way the gruesome tales of Roger Mortimer, King David II of Scotland, or you may be able to take a tour with Robin Hood himself…With some of the caves dating back to medieval times, the tour is strenuous with LOTS of steep steps.  However, for those who wish to descend through hundreds of years the tour is a must.  Tours last approximately 30-40 minutes.  Costs £5 per person plus normal castle entry.  Tours run all year round.


Boodles Ladies Day
Chester is renowned for being a glamorous venue where style and fashion go hand in hand.  Bringing style and elegance to the May Festival, the fashion stakes are raised at Chester Racecourse for Boodles Ladies Day, the pinnacle of the social calendar.  Spot a celebrity or two while enjoying another afternoon of top class racing action with the highlights – The Huxley Stakes and the Chester Vase.  May 11th 2017.

The Lost Boy
A brand new play for Chester.  The Lost Boy, showing at St Mary’s Creative Space, CH1 2DW from now until 7th May, is a beautiful and compelling journey of change, told through the eyes of a little boy who one night appears in a British seaside town.  A boy who sees beauty and magic all around him and by doing so changes a town forever.

The French Connection
Chester Music Society Choir presents The French Connection at Chester Cathedral on Saturday 20th May at 7.30pm featuring Gounod St Cecilia Mass, Franck Panis Angelicus, Graham Eccles organ and more.


The American Dream Pop to the Present
Trace the creative momentum of a superpower in this major new exhibition.  The past six decades have been among the most dynamic and turbulent in US history, from JFK’s assassination, Apollo 11 and Vietnam, to the AIDS crisis, racism and gender politics.  Responding to the changing times, American artists produced prints unprecedented in their scale and ambition.  Starting with the explosion of pop art in the 1960s, the exhibition includes works by the most celebrated American artists.  From Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns to Ed Ruscha, Kara Walker and Julie Mrehretu – all boldly experimented with printmaking.  Experience this extraordinary history through their eyes.  This exhibition, at The British Museum from now until June 18th, presents the Museum’s outstanding collection of modern and contemporary American prints for the first time.

Quentin Blake:  The Roald Dahl Centenary Portraits Happy 100th Birthday Roald Dahl! 
To mark this phizz-whizzing anniversary, Sir Quentin Blake has drawn special portraits of some of the most celebrated characters from Dahl’s stories including Matilda, Charlie Bucket and the BFG.  Find our which filthsome couple declined to appear together and which character quietly disapproved of the whole business as the British Library showcases the portraits.  Visit now until 21st May at the British Library.

David Hockney at The Tate
In the footfall of his 80th Birthday, Britain’s most stylish man and our finest living art export, David Hockney, is getting the no-holds-barred greatest hits treatment, says  His retrospective is an all killer, no filler, a circumspect summation of his genius with painting, photography, film and print.  For beginners, this is entry-level materials for the story of modern art.  For diehards, it’ll be just amazing to see it all in one place.  At Tate Britain from now until 29th May.


Dog Show
Take part in a barkingly good dog show in Grosvenor and Hilbert Park on May 20th from 10am-noon on the upper football pitch.  The event is run by FOGH and more information will be available nearer the time at

Guided Walking Tour
Meet every Saturday and Thursday from April to September 2017 at the Tourist Information Centre in the Corn Exchange and learn all about the historic spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells in a one hour guided stroll through the Pantiles and the historic heart of the town.  Visit King Charles and the Martyr Church, paid for by public subscription, and see the original lodging houses in the village area of the town.  Discover the town’s 400 year history and hear about the famous visitors – from Queen Anne to Samuel Pepys – who made Tunbridge Wells the place in which to see and be seen.

Capturing on Collodian
Photographer Sean Hawkey has worked across the world documenting lives and diverse communities.  His work as a photojournalist has led him to evaluate the impact of the photograph on the story of people’s lives.  For his exhibition at Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery, open from now until 20th May, Hawkey has chosen to work with the Victorian wet plate collodian process to make his images.  Using original camera and lens from the 1870s, he captures portraits of people which have an intense, ethereal beauty to them.  Free admission.


Plymouth Pirate Weekend
The award-winning Plymouth Pirate Weekend returns to our shores on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th May for two days packed full of family fun.  Taking place in The Barbican and Sutton Harbour this promises to be a cracking year for budding young pirates.  Say “Ahoy!” to Jonty Depp, Plymouth’s very own Captain Sparrow lookalike as he pits his wits against old foe Captain Barbosa, board a real Pirate ship and enjoy some family entertainment.  Budding pirates can go aboard a real Pirate Ship with its scurvy crew, complete with love canon and musket firing; if that’s not your thing you can enrol in the Mermaid School where you can meet a real life Mermaid; take in some shanty singing or watch a pirate themed puppet show.  New for this year you can get the most out of your day and hop aboard the Plymouth Land Train for free to visit the children’s activity area and Pirate themed Fun Park at West Hoe.  All this and much, much more…

Britain in the Fifties:  Design and Aspiration
Come along and see a vision of the country from 60 years ago as The Council House, Armada Way explores the history of post-war design in this nationally touring exhibition organised by Compton Verney.  The 1950s was a time when Britain emerged from a period of austerity and rationing after the Second World War.  Following the ground-breaking Festival of Britain 1951, design played a crucial role in shaping our ‘Brave New World.’  As Britain began to modernise itself and became more prosperous, it led the world with the equality and innovation of its decorative and applied arts.  Leading artists became household names and good design became affordable.  Runs until 3rd June 2017.


Ballet Central
Ballet Central’s diverse range of dance and theatre returns under the auspices of its new artistic director Christopher Marney.  See the company’s young and dynamic dancers on the cusp of their professional careers showcasing newly commissioned works and celebrates masterpieces.  The repertoire for this year’s tour features work by Sir Matthew Bourne, Indigo Children by Royal Ballet artist in residence Liam Scarlett, and a new version of the ballroom scene from Romeo & Juliet by former English National Ballet’s Jenna Lee.  Tuesday 16th May at Civic and Cramphorn Theatres.

International Garden Photographer of the Year
The International Garden Photographer of the Year is the world’s most prestigious competition for garden, plant and botanical photography.  Set in the glorious surroundings of Hyde Hall you will be able to view winning entries from the current competition in an innovative outdoor display.  Open now until 4th June.

Farmers & Crafts Market
Set in the beautiful surroundings of the Stables Visitor Centre at Hylands House, the wonderful Farmers & Crafts Market features a growing number of craft stalls and local farmers who are passionate about food.  They sell a range of specialist foods including organic, locally grown seasonal vegetables, fine sausages and bacon, homemade cakes, fudge and pastries, pies and fantastic cheeses, homemade Indian foods and spices, locally grown plants and sweets and candyfloss for children.  Held the first Sunday of every month from now until December, from 10am-4pm.


Transformation:  An Exhibition by Annie Cattrell
Artist Annie Cattrell has long explored the connections between the scientific, the technological and the poetic.  This exhibition includes new work that explores the idea of transformation, made in collaboration with dancers Charlie Morrissey and Andrea Buckley, artists Frances Scott, and curator Marius Kwint.  It precedes the completion of her permanent public artwork for the exterior of Anglia Ruskin University’s forthcoming science building next September.  A free symposium relating to the exhibition and Annie Cattrell’s work entitled Transformation:  Body, Mind and Society will be held on Friday 12th May.  Exhibition open now until 12th May.

Paul Bunyan
Owing more to Oklahoma than Peter Grimes, composer Benjamin Britten’s first musical theatre work, the operetta Paul Bunyan, was written during the early years of his self-imposed exile to America in 1941.  In the operetta, the story of the mythical Paul Bunyan is presented as a metaphor for the human struggles of the emerging New World and the personal struggles of the central character Johnny Inkslinger.  In this sense, the opera foreshadows many of the themes of Britten’s later works concerned with a search for identity.  26th and 27th May at Mumford Theatre, Anglia Ruskin University.

Faces of Cambridge 2017
When Cambridge was chosen to be the permanent site of the only World War II American Cemetery in Britain the location played an important role.  The hillside position looks north, a beautiful setting in which to come and reflect on the loves of those young soliders, airmen and sailors – some barely 18 years old.  East Anglia was used extensively to build the huge network of USAAF airfields from where so many crews set off for the air war over Europe.  Faces of Cambridge tells the stories of the men and women who gave their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic.  Pictures are displayed at the headstone, enabling us to understand the story of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Open weekend 27th and 28th May.


Small Stories:  At Home in a Doll’s House
Take a peak behind closed doors and discover the small stories of the tiny inhabitants of the V&A Museum of Childhood’s most treasured doll’s houses.  At Norwich Castle from now until 25th June.

Wymondham Abbey Craft Fair
Traditional craft fair with East Anglian designers and makers.  Explore a mix of stalls spread throughout our churchyard and in the Abbey itself.  Watch demonstrations, buy unique products and celebrate all things East Anglian on Saturday 6th May from 4pm.  The Abbey Pop Up Cafe will be open too.

UK Green Film Festival
Presenting free screenings and events that draw upon and bring together intersecting interests in environmental issues and film.  Organised by members of the UAE School of Art, Media & American Studies, local action group CHAIN and Norwich Greenpeace, the programme of events supports UAE’s internationally renowned environmental research and ethos.  From 3rd-6th May.  Films include Bugs:  The Film, Daughter of the Lake, Ponyo, Climate Cafe and Stand Up For the Earth and The Age of Consequences.


Shaping the Body
This major exhibition looks at how body shape has changed over the past 500 years through diet, culture, fashion and lifestyle.  From 18th century bum rolls, through to the Victorian hour glass figure, the punks of the 70s and the perms of the 80s, see how our bodies have been shaped and designed through choices we make and the consequences of our lifestyle.  York Castle Museum’s extensive collection of costume, social history, archaeology and art will highlight how the perfect height and weight have fluctuated in different periods, and how economic circumstances and cultural ideas impact on fashion.  Meet the people who have pushed their bodies to the limits to gain the look they crave and find out about the dangerous fashions such as extra tight corsets, high heels and even poisonous dresses!  This thought-provoking and fascinating exhibition will challenge the notion of the perfect body.  From now until 25th January 2018.

National Railway Museum
A new exhibition trail by Geraldine Pilgrim Performance.  From Agatha Christie’s The Girl on the Train, the railways have provided us with the perfect setting for a thrilling crime story.  Come along for a brand new Mystery on the Rails Season between now and 3rd September to uncover the special place railways have in mystery and detective fiction, solve the mystery of The Missing Passenger and discover a wealth of real-life tales of audacious robberies, petty thefts and notorious criminals.

York Famers Market
York’s monthly Famers Market celebrates the best of local produce, including meat, eggs, bread and oils as well as selling non-food gifts including pottery and woollen goodies.  The Farmers Market joins the city’s regular market at the Shambles on the last Friday of every month.  Fresh goods sold here are grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled, baked, smoked or processed by the stallholders within a 40-mile radius of York.


Vanessa Bell
Vanessa Bell was at the centre of that compelling group of writers, artists and creative thinkers known as the Bloomsbury Set.  She was the sister of novelist Virginia Woolf, and her lovers and children have created a small biographical industry around their lives and affairs, telling of Bell’s open marriage and the various relationships she and her husband enjoyed.  She was also a painter and one who was unusually interested in the new art being produced on the Continent in the early 20th century.  Her work shows awareness of post-Impressionism, Matisse, Picasso and even abstract painting.  The exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery running from now until June 4th focuses on the years before the 1920s.  Bell’s work, as represented here, says critic Philip Hensher, focuses on still lives and landscapes.

Robots Exhibition
The Science Museum’s new Robots exhibition tells the evolution of our little metal friends, from 16th century mechanical monks to R2-D2 and beyond.  1010020101212 (says ES Magazine 3rd March) – apparently that’s robot for “come down”…Tickets £15.  From now until 3rd September.

Diana:  Her Fashion Story
The cultural tributes to Princess Diana have often felt overshadowed by the sound of the queen of our hearts turning in her grave (let us run swiftly past the paddling pool in Hyde Park and fast forward through the ghastly Naomi Watts biopic, says  So respect, as they say, is due, and that respect is forthcoming this spring with an exhibition at Kensington Palace.  Twenty years on from her death, Diana: Her Fashion Story, will walk through her wardrobe as a starting point for analysing the arresting grip the princess held on popular culture.  Few knew so instinctively how to harness the power of visual image.  Diana made stars of her wedding dress designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel, then her favourite portraitist, Mario Testino, and hairdresser Sam Knight.  No one has used power dressing as quite the armour Diana did.  So an exhibition of her clothes is not really about fashion at all.  It’s about a very specific female energy and power to connect on every level, channelled through one woman.  The Exhibition is open now at Kensington Palace until 24th February 2019.


Brighton Fringe
Brighton Fringe is England’s biggest arts festival and one of the largest fringe festivals in the world.  We set out to stimulate, educate and entertain a diverse range of people through a wide range of art forms.  And all this in an iconic city with a unique cultural heritage.  Taking place from 5th May-4th June, this is a great place to spend the May Bank Holiday weekends and half term.  This vast celebration of all things creative has grown out of, and is inspired by, home-grown talent.  More than 50% of participants are based in Brighton & Hove. Brighton Tattoo Convention The 10th edition of the Brighton Tattoo Convention will be held on May 13th-14th.  One of the world’s most prestigious tattoo gatherings, the convention attracts over 300 British and International artists to the iconic seaside city.  This year will be the biggest to date attracting a plethora of independent retailers, exclusive exhibitions, live music and more.

Disco Yoga
Disco Yoga is excited to bring a ‘Buffet Lunch’ to Brighton Harbour Hotel.  Nourish your mind, tummy and soul with a generous helping of Disco Yoga and get your Jackson 5 a day at this super healthy, yet super yummy brunch.  14th May.


The Story of Guitar Heroes
“If you like music you’ll love this show!”  Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Hank Marvin, Brian May and Slash are just some of the outstanding guitar heroes you’ll have the chance to experience in an amazing show.  This phenomenal live concert style rockumentary is performed by the extraordinarily talented renowned musician Phil Walker and his exceptional band at GLive Guildford on Friday 19th May.

Romeo & Juliet and Twelfth Night
The Watermill Theatre presents two of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays in repertoire:  a powerful and explosive staging of the immortal tale of an all-consuming love in Romeo & Juliet which features Mumford and Sons, The Vaccines, Hozier and Johnny Flynn, while Twelfth Night is reimagined in the 90s.  23rd-27th May.

Guildford Farmers Market
Held on the first Tuesday of every month.  While the High Street Setts are being repaired, the Farmers Market will relocate to the Leapale Road Surface Car Park.  Buy high quality, fresh, local produce directly from over 50 local farmers and producers.  Try the best seasonal produce and ask questions about growing, rearing, manufacture and cooking methods.  Enjoy the freshest meat, fish, cheese, eggs, fruit and vegetables and breads.


Pools of Colour
Visitors are invited to explore an alternative map of Exeter City seen through the eyes of its ponds, pools and puddles.  This installation features the latest paintings, photographs and light sculptures of Lucy Patrick, an artist living on Dartmoor.  These brightly coloured works weave a watery narrative of Exeter and hopefully will inspire the visitors to view the temporary appearance of puddles after rain in a new light.  Lucy will give a short guided tour of some of the sites of pools and puddles in her performance review at 11am on 13th May. The Glorious Art House in Exeter from 12th-23rd May.

Hijacked Festival
When you combine heavyweight programming with slick production, an up-for-it crowd and some of Devon’s surreally beautiful location then you have the recipe for an almighty event – and Hijacked is exactly that.  Expect a line-up that ticks all the boxes and an experience to match, encompassing everything from legendary headliners to some of the best selectors from the underground.  Thursday 25th May 12.30pm-11pm.

Ridiculousmus:  Give me Your Love
Welcome to the world of war veteran Zach.  As the last man standing, Zach has retreated into a tiny dugout under a barrage of hostile fire.  His enemies are cunning, using every trick in the book to mess with his mind.  Even the landscape is weird:  it’s a cardboard box in Zach’s kitchen, in Port Talbot.  His wife whispers, kindly, that it’s safe to come out.  But is it a trap?  For if the real enemy is Zach himself then who will win if he loses?  Showing at the Bikeshed Theatre 13th May.


The Kooks
To celebrate a decade together as a band, The Kooks are currently on their Best of UK Tour, concluding at Alexandra Palace on 13th May 2017.

IACF Antiques & Collectors Fair
Enjoy the Antiques and Vintage pop up fair at Ally Pally with lots of hidden gems to be found!  The fair is full of handpicked, quality vintage traders who offer a wide range of genuine vintage and antique goods.  21st May.

The Great British Tattoo Show
Over 300 of the world’s greatest tattoo artists will be flocking to Alexandra Palace on 27th and 28th May dominating the Great Hall with some serious tattoo talent.  If you’re serious about tattoos, alternative fashion, great music and some pretty cool people, you’re in the right place.


The Best of Barmy Britain
We all want to meet people from history.  The trouble is everyone is dead!  So it’s time to prepare yourselves for this special one hour production of Horrible Histories live on stage at Hampton Court Palace.  Could you beat battling Boudicca?  Will you lose your heart or your head with Henry VIII?  Can Parliament survive gunpowder Guy?  Would you stand and deliver to dastardly Dick Turpin?  Escape the clutches of Burke and Hare and move to the groove with Queen Victoria.  27th May-3rd June.

Encounters with the Tudors
Immerse yourself in the stories of Henry VIII’s magnificent Hampton Court Palace through a series of up-close encounters with the people who created history.  You may even see the King himself!  Thursdays-Mondays from now until 28th August.

Jazz at The Rose
Kingston University free lunchtime jazz continues with talented jazz pianist Meredith White, who brings a wide range of repertoire and styles to the classic jazz piano trio format delivered with a depth of expression and creativity.  Meredith is joined by drummer Paul Cavaciuti and bassist Dave Jones, each bandleaders in their own right, who complement and support while bringing a unique voice to their roles.  Held at the Rose Cafe until June 2017.