UK Student Life homepage
Study, work or travel in the UK. British culture and life.
A-Z index
Message Board
Contact us
Cheap West End theatre tickets for London musicals and plays
< Up
Ideas / Events / May
Things to do in the UK in May 2015

MAY 2015

May is a time when many students at schools, colleges and universities are preparing for exams at the end of the academic year. If you are planning to take an English language exam, check the English/Exams section of this website. If you are and international student and are returning to your home country in June, it is a good time to start making preparations (see: Prepare/Return). This is springtime: trees are getting greener and gardens are becoming colourful. If you like flowers you will enjoy the Chelsea Flower show in London (early booking is required). There are celebrations of spring, especially in towns in farming areas: traditional events include May fayres, Morris dancing and Maypole dancing. There are public holidays on Mondays both at the beginning and end of May. One of the most popular sporting events is the FA Cup Final (there are separate competitions in England & Wales and in Scotland): this is the end of the main football season.

Rapeseed field (farmed for its oil)

Fri 1 May 2015 May Day: International Workers' Day, UK
May Day is traditionally a day for demonstrations by workers and by people who are protesting against the current social system (similar events occur in many countries). This choice of date is related to an event in the US on May 1st 1886: there was a general strike in Chicago on this day which ended in rioting, after which six people were executed. This day is not a public holiday in the UK - there is a "May Day" holiday on the following Monday. An organised march will take place in central London, including a mixture of trade unions and various groups protesting about issues such as the environment, war / the arms trade, and capitalism.

Sat 2 May -
Sun 24 May 2015
Brighton Festival, Brighton
A 3-week international festival of music, theatre, dance, literature and arts events in Brighton. This is one of the largest events of this kind in England. See:
At the same time there is a lively "fringe" festival. See:
* Photos from this event: Ideas/Album/Brighton-Festival

Brighton Festival: one of the temporary venues

Brighton Festival: children's parade

Sat 2 May 2015 2,000 Guineas, Newmarket
The first "classic" race of this year's flat horse racing season. The race is in Newmarket (near Cambridge). The 2,000 Guineas is for 3-year old colts (male horses) and is shown on television on Channel 4 in the late afternoon. See:
* Horse racing in the UK: Life/Sport/Horse

Sun 3 May 2015 1,000 Guineas, Newmarket
The second "classic" race of this year's flat horse racing season. The race is in Newmarket (near Cambridge). The 1,000 Guineas is for 3-year old fillies (female horses). The race is shown on television on Channel 4 in the late afternoon. See:
* Information about horse racing in the UK: Life/Sport/Horse

Mon 4 May 2015 May Day bank holiday, UK
A public holiday in the UK. In some towns and villages across England there will be traditional celebration in a park, with Morris dancing or children dancing around a Maypole.

Mon 4 May 2015 May Morning, Oxford
There are traditional celebrations in the morning in Oxford. This starts at 6 o'clock in the morning with choir-singing in Magdalen Tower - large crowds gather from about 5 o'clock to watch from the area around Magdalen Bridge (some university students enjoy an all-night ball before then). There is Morris dancing and music during the rest of the morning in the streets around Radcliffe Square. See:
* Pictures of Oxford: Travel/Tours/England/Oxford

Mon 4 May 2015 Sweeps Festival, Rochester
May Day is celebrated in Rochester (in Kent). Festivities include Morris dancing in the streets, storytelling in the Charles Dickens Centre, and a funfair in the castle grounds. There is a procession through the streets, including people dressed as chimney sweeps (the start of summer was always the busiest time for people to clean their chimneys). See:
* Photos of Rochester: Travel/Tours/England/Rochester

Mon 4 May 2015 Jack-in-the-Green, Hastings
Traditional May Day celebrations in Hastings. The Jack is released from the Fishermen's Museum, from where there is a procession through the streets to Hastings Castle. Following Jack are Morris dancers, Giants and Bogies. Later in the afternoon Jack is killed, and the Spirit of Summer is released. For further information, see:
* Photos of this event: Ideas/Album/JackInTheGreen

Jack-in-the-Green: local giants outside the fishing huts

Jack-in-the-Green celebrations

Tue 5 May -
Wed 6 May 2015
Champions League Football
First leg semi-final matches from the Champions League
For further information, see: or
* Football: Life/Sport/Football

Thu 7 May -
Sun 10 May 2015
Living Crafts Fair, Hatfield
The largest crafts fair in Europe, organised by Living Crafts. Hundreds of Britain's top designers and craftspeople sell their products, and many also give demonstrations. It takes place at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire (see: ; map): the house is a short walk from Hatfield train station, which is about a 20 minute journey from London King's Cross train station. There is an entry charge. It is also possible to pay to see the house, which is where Queen Elizabeth the First spent much of her life, and to walk around the extensive gardens. For further information, see:

Living Crafts Fair: spinner ...

... glassblower ...

... and blacksmith

Thu 7 May 2015 General Election, UK
Every four years there is a general election, in which people across the UK elect Members of Parliament (MPs) to seats in the House of Commons (the lower house of the Parliament). In some areas there are also local elections on the same day.
* Houses of Parliament: Travel/Tours/London/Parliament

Fri 8 May -
Sun 10 May 2015
VE Day 70th Anniversary Events, UK
Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day, was the public holiday celebrated on 8 May 1945 (7 May in Commonwealth realms) to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces. Following Hitler's suicide in Berlin on 30 April, the act of military surrender was signed on 7 May in Reims, France and on 8 May in Berlin, Germany.
This is the 70th anniversary of VE Day, so on Friday, Saturday and Sunday there will be celebrations throughout the UK, including parades, street parties, concerts and the lighting of beacons. For a map of events, see:
* British history: Britain/History

Sat 9 May 2015 Westminster Day of Dance, London
(second Saturday in May)
Traditional Morris dancing during the afternoon in the Westminster area. See:
* Photos of Morris dancing: Ideas/Album/MorrisDancing

Day of Dance:
Morris dancing in Westminster

Sun 10 May 2015 Covent Garden May Fayre, London
There will be a free traditional May Fayre in the gardens of St Paul's Church in Covent Garden (see: See:
* Photos from the event: Ideas/Album/MayFayre

Sun 10 May 2015 VE Day Services, London
There will be a national service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey. This is followed by a service of remembrance at The Cenotaph (on Whitehall), including a national 2 minute silence at 3pm, marking the moment Winston Churchill broadcast his historic speech formally announcing the end of the Second World War.
* British history: Britain/History

Covent Garden May Fayre and
Puppet Festival: Punch & Judy show

Tue 12 May -
Wed 13 May 2015
Champions League Football
Second leg semi-final matches from the Champions League
For further information, see: or
* Football: Life/Sport/Football

Wed 13 May -
Sun 17 May 2015
Royal Windsor Horse Show, Windsor
International equestrian competitions in the grounds of Windsor Castle, including jumping, dressage, driving, endurance and showing classes.
* Information about horse-related sports in the UK: Life/Sport/Horse
* Visitor guide to Windsor: Travel/Tours/England/Windsor

FA Cup Final: Fans make their way
to Wembley Stadium

FA Cup Final: The Royal Standard flies
if a member of the royal family attends

Tue 19 May -
Sat 23 May 2015
Chelsea Flower Show, London
A famous flower show in London. There are TV programmes about the show on BBC television each day this week. Entry on Monday is only by special invitation, and Tuesday/Wednesady are only for RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) members. The entrance is on Eastern Avenue, which is close to the northern end of Royal Hospital Road (near Sloane Square underground station, not far from London Victoria station; see map). Exhibited plants are sold on the last day.
For further details of the show, see: or
* Photographs from the event: Ideas/Album/ChelseaFlowerShow

Chelsea Flower Show: Flowers ...

... and show gardens

Thu 21 May –
Mon 25 May 2015
Cricket: 1st Test, England v New Zealand, Headingley (Leeds)
The first of two test matches between England and New Zealand. This game is played at the Headingley cricket ground in Leeds.
* Cricket: Life/Sport/Cricket

Sat 23 May -
Sun 24 May 2015
Radio 1's Big Weekend, Norwich
BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend is a pop music festival that takes place in different locations each year. In 2015 it will be held in Norwich. See:

Sat 23 May 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, Copenhagen (Denmark)
An annual European song competition. The contest is shown on BBC1 in the evening. The official website for the event is:
The UK entry is "Still In Love With You" by Electro Velvet. To see videos of the entries, see:
* Information about pop music in the UK: Britain/Music/Pop

Sun 24 May 2015 Pentecost (Whit Sunday)
Seven weeks after Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the time when, according to the Bible, the Holy Spirit came down to the apostles: this represents the beginning of the Christian church. Wind, flames and a dove are symbols of the Holy Spirit. Special hymns are sung during services, and church ministers often wear robes containing red (the colour of flames)

Mon 25 May 2015 Spring Bank Holiday
There is a public holiday on the last Monday of May, known as the spring bank holiday or the late May bank holiday. In the past this was a celebration of Whit Sunday (the date of which varies each year because it falls 7 weeks after Easter Sunday), but now it is always in the last week of May and the link to this religious event has therefore been lost (some older people may still refer to it as the Whitsun Bank Holiday).

Mon 25 May 2015 London 10K run, London
10km road race, starting on Birdcage Walk and ending in The Mall (nearest Tube: St James's Park). See:

Wed 27 May 2015 UEFA Europa League Final, Warsaw (Poland)
The final of the UEFA Europa League (a European soccer competition).
For further information, see:
* Information about football in the UK: Life/Sport/Football

Wed 27 May 2015 State Opening of Parliament, London
The Queen travels from Buckingham Palace to Westminster to open a new year's programme for Parliament. The British Parliament has two main chambers: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The House of Commons has most of the power these days: its representatives (known as MPs: "Members of Parliament) are elected directly by the people in a general election. The main role of the House of Lords is to review the decisions taken by the House of Commons, and to recommend changes. Before the State Opening ceremony starts, the cellars of the Palace of Westminster are searched by the Yeomen of the Guard - a precaution dating back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when Guy Fawkes and others planned to blow up Parliament.

The Queen enters the House of Lords and sits on a throne. An official known as "Black Rod" walks to the House of Commons, but the door is closed in front of him (this represents the occasion when King Charles the First was refused entry, at the time of the English Civil War). Black Rod uses his ornamental mace (a heavy stick) to knock on the door, after which he is allowed into the House of Commons. He asks the MPs (Members of Parliament, who are chosen in a general election) to move into the House of Lords to listen to the "Queen's Speech". The Queen reads out details of planned changes to the law over the coming year (this is written by politicians from the government). The ceremony, which is a tradition which started over 500 years ago, is shown on television (usually on BBC1: 10.45am - 12.30pm). You can watch the Queen arriving or leaving in her coach: it leaves Buckingham Palace at 11am, follows The Mall to Horse Guards, passes through to Whitehall and then travels past the Cenotaph to Parliament Square. At 11.08am a cannon is fired in Green Park. Possible places to watch include the northern and north-eastern edges of St James's Park and in front of the Houses of Parliament (map; near Westminster Abbey).

For further information, see: or
* Photos of this event: Ideas/Album/StateOpeningOfParliament.
* A brief guide to Parliament: Travel/Tours/London/Parliament

Fri 29 May –
Tue 2 June 2015
Cricket: 2nd Test, England v New Zealand, Lord's (London)
The second of two test matches between England and New Zealand. This game is played at Lord's cricket ground in London
* Cricket: Life/Sport/Cricket

Sat 30 May 2015 Major General's Review of Trooping the Colour, London
The first of two rehearsals for the Trooping the Colour ceremony (which is 2 weeks later). For details of how to apply for a ticket earlier in the year, see: Ideas/Events/January. If you don't have tickets, you can still go and stand in front of Buckingham Palace or along The Mall to watch the Household Guards as they arrive (between 10am and 11am) and as they leave (between 12 noon and 12:30pm), and you may be able to see and hear the main ceremony from the parts of St James's Park on either side of the Guards Memorial (close to Horseguards Parade) between 11am and 12 noon. Unlike the full Trooping the Colour ceremony, the Queen does not attend the rehearsal, and there is no flypast or balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace.
* Photos from Trooping the Colour: Ideas/Album/TroopingTheColour.

The Major General's Review

Sat 30 May 2015 FA Cup Final, London
The FA Cup Final is the last game of a knockout competition between football clubs in England and Wales. You can watch the game live on television (on ITV). Note that it is very difficult to obtain tickets for this event. The game will be played in Wembley Stadium in London.
For details see: or:
* Information about football in the UK: Life/Sport/Football

Sat 30 May 2015 Scottish Cup Final, Glasgow
The final of this year's knock-out competition between Scottish football clubs, organised by the Scottish FA. The game is played at Hampden Park.
For details see:
* Information about football in the UK: Life/Sport/Football

Events for which dates have not been confirmed (or which may not be taking place this year) - check the links for the latest details:

- Spalding Flower Parade, Spalding (Lincolnshire)
The annual flower parade in Spalding (the main tulip-growing area in the UK) will not take place in 2015. See:

- Big Dance Pledge, UK
The Big Dance Pledge is a chance to learn, make and perform dance with the rest of the world. Big Dance is every 2 years, and will not take place in 2015.
* Dance in the UK: Life/Entertainment/Dance

Back to top


Tours in May: Travel/Tours/Dates/May
Events in June: Ideas/Events/June
Print a free calendar: Ideas/Calendar
Sports events: Life/Sport
Entertainment: Life/Entertainment

Home page: Home

Back to top

© UK Student Life 2002-2015

* Search this website ( or the web: