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What’s on in London – May 2018

The Royal Family will be a busy bunch this summer as they seem to be determined to kick-start family values for the whole nation. A string of birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and births are in the pipeline with the media set to cover every minute. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are first out of the gate with their third child arriving just in time for Uncle Harry’s wedding. But if following all things royal isn’t your bag, don’t worry as there are plenty of other things to do in the Capital throughout the month.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show – Chelsea

Queen Elizabeth’s favourite non-horse related event is a bucolic sweep through the gardens of Britain. With the weather finally getting it’s act together the scene is set for gardeners of all stripes and persuasions to let their imaginations transport us all to horticultural heaven (or SW3 even!).This year sees the Chelsea Flower Show continuing to focus on how gardens promote health and well being. The Lemon Tree Garden features clusters of aromatic plants that give of beneficial scents while the Urban Flow exhibit promotes the responsible use of design materials. As always with the RHS, beauty and function go hand in hand.

Photo London: Somerset House

Credit: Sebastian Bruno

Photo London seems to be evolving into photography’s version of The Affordable Art Fair. Now in its fourth year, the event is fittingly located in the wonderfully atmospheric Somerset House. London has an impressive heritage when it comes to photographic innovation and enthusiasts will find plenty to admire and inspire. Eighty exhibitors will gather to show their work and this year will feature the special talents of Edward Burtynsky.

Hailing from Canada, Burtynsky is known for pushing technical envelopes in order to document the impact that various cultures have on their natural surroundings. Using augmented reality (AR) techniques to enhance and clarify aerial footage together with super closeups, Burtynsky is the kind of maverick pioneer that is driving photography forward in the 21st Century.

London Craft Week – Various London Venues

The skill and craftsmanship that the Capital attracts is largely due to events like London Craft Week – an annual showcase dedicated to preserving the past in order to enhance the future. If your image of a dedicated artisan is that of an old man slaving over a lathe in a darkened cellar, then prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

A series of demonstrations, workshops and exhibitions spotlights many young up-and-coming engravers, weavers, watchmakers and jewellers as well as some big luxury names. There will be plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with the various creative processes involved in these timeless traditions.

State Opening of Parliament – Westminster

The British monarchy has always had a complex relationship with Parliament because although they both claim to serve the people; the two institutions were founded on two completely different ways to go about it. The start of the new legislative cycle is where members of the House of Commons get to meet the Queen on their own turf while still displaying loyalty, deference and respect.

It’s a finely tuned balancing act which has served this country well and has kept the peace for centuries. The ceremony is full of pomp and pageantry with a few arcane rituals thrown in for good measure as the Queen makes her annual visit to Parliament in order to read out what her government intends to do in the coming year. A typically British compromise is thus reached: she gets to wear her crown and receive homage while our MPs get to hear their “brilliant” plans laid out with perfect enunciation and characteristic good grace.

Peter Pan, Open Air Theatre – Regent’s Park.

A seasonal source of joy and wonder for people of all ages, the Open-Air Theatre continues to draw crowds every summer, no matter the weather. This May, they kick of their 2018 season with a brilliant production of Peter Pan and the outdoor format is ideal for all the swashbuckling stunts and high jinks that the story contains.

The show is enhanced by special effects and ingenious puppetry and the cast all play their roles perfectly. An added dimension to this play is the perspective of a group of WW1 soldiers who, in a sensitively handled subplot imagine themselves as members of Peter Pan’s merry band. This plot device came about because the original JM Barrie story was inspired by the youthful memories of a soldier who subsequently died on the Western Front.

Strictly Ballroom: The Musical – Piccadilly Theatre

The story of a maverick ballroom dancer who refuses to play by the rules was an unlikely source of movie drama, yet the resulting film was a surprise hit. A West End version of the tale – set in Australia and featuring plenty of fake tan and cheesy disco – is now set to have audiences once again reaching for their scorecards.

Strictly Ballroom will no doubt cash in on the success of the many televised dance shows that have followed on from the movie and it has the chance to even surpass them. Glamorous costumes and fantastic choreography ensure that the production puts its best foot forward as the hero struggles to overcome pettiness and prejudice with his sizzling samba moves.

Rita Ora – Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Rita Ora has to be the quintessential pop star for our times. Known equally for her fashion lines, celebrity contacts and activism-lite, you’d be forgiven if you struggled to put a name to any of her actual tunes. However, remembering song titles is so last century and Ora proves this point by delivering a live show that is funky, fresh and fierce.

Armed with a voice as big as her wardrobe, the West London pop-dance diva is backed by a formidable band of musicians and backup dancers. She’s also hit something of a hot streak recently with the smash hit “Anywhere” and will be using this intimate gig as a showcase for new material.

Museums at Night – Various London Venues

Say what you like about museums and their role in preserving culture, but you’ll have to admit that they possess major assets in the form of their buildings. These atmospheric, sometimes intimidating, spaces are worth seeing on their own merit and that’s what Museums at Night hopes to tap into in this citywide festival.

Walk into these venues after dark and each exhibit seems to take on a weightier meaning. Dinosaur skeletons look more threatening and Egyptian mummies seem to follow you with their eyes. Apart from the fun factor, this series of events will feature talks, demonstrations and even some interactive moments which would be hard to follow in the crowded daytime hours.

FA Cup Final, 19 May – Wembley Stadium

This year, the annual showpiece of English soccer will be between two of the giants of the modern game and steered by two managers with strong opinions and a flair for the controversial. Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte are in charge of multi-talented squads at Manchester United and Chelsea, respectively that will both be vying to put their relatively disappointing seasons behind them by clinching football’s oldest trophy.

There is also more beef between these two managers than a cut-price steakhouse which will add a bit of friction to proceedings and hopefully discourage the twenty-two multi-millionaires on the pitch from taking it easy. All eyes will be on talented midfielders Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard who are largely responsible for sparking the creativity in their teams. Expect a close one with plenty of post-match griping by the “Special One” even if he wins.

Royal Wedding – Windsor Castle

There’s nothing quite like a Royal Wedding for getting the public off an underperforming government’s back, which is probably why the press are so enthralled with Prince Harry’s upcoming marriage. Lots of ink has been spilled over Meghan Markle – her nationality, profession and “background” (politically correct codeword for racial origins).

It’s not that the Prince needs the publicity as he is genuinely liked by the public and seems to have convinced the Queen that his days of wild living are firmly behind him. Expect the event to be a fairly egalitarian affair with plenty of representation from ordinary brits as well as the usual celebrity guest list. Expect also a slew of cheesy headlines as tabloid imaginations go into overdrive. Our bets are on “Markle Sparkles!”. “Mega-Watt Smile!” or even “Meghan + Harry = Marry!

A Quiet Place – Cinemas Londonwide

How does a family learn to express themselves to each other when even the slightest noise can mean instant death? This intriguing premise is explored via the vehicle of a suspense filled horror flick that may have inadvertently kickstarted its own genre. In a dystopian near future (is there any other kind?), alien monsters have all but wiped out mankind. They can only hunt by sound so in order to survive the family must exist in almost total silence.

As they adapt and attempt to pass on these survival skills to their two kids, the two parents decide to do the unthinkable: have a baby. The moral questions thrown up by this decision form a brilliant subplot to an already tightly scripted and well acted movie. Real-life couple, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt play the parents with Krasinski also directing the action and sharing co-writing credits.

London Wine Week – Various London Venues

Credit: DrinkUp.London

A seven-day summer pleasure that comes guilt-free and packed with options, the London Wine Week is hosted by various venues citywide. Wine enthusiasts get a variety of daily choices with pop-up wine bars, outdoor events and posh dinners. If time is tight, you can attend guided tastings, complete with finger food and canapés.

In order to take full advantage of all the offers, participants can download a festival pass to enter the different events – no fumbling with wristbands or tickets during London Wine Week! It’s not been lost on the organisers that these events coincide with a certain ritzy wedding event a few miles along the M4, so there’ll be plenty of sparkle (pink champagne) flowing in honour of the soon-to-be former Ms Markle.


About the Author

Established in 1958, Benham and Reeves is one of London’s oldest, independently owned property lettings and sales agents.  With specialism in residential sales, corporate lettings and property management in prime areas of London, the company operates from 21 prominently located branches and 14 international offices.