May in London: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

London skyline

  Vladimir Zakharov / Getty Images

London, England, is somewhat notorious for its fickle weather, but the month of May is actually pretty consistent. Days are longer and the sun is inching its way toward warm. It's a great time to visit and you'll find plenty to do in relative peace and quiet because the biggest sightseeing crowds won't begin descending on the area for another month or so. However, since its a popular tourist season, prices are usually higher for accommodations and flights. Visitors are entertained by a variety of events for all ages, such as Punch and Judy wooden puppet shows featuring a brass band procession, soccer cup finals, wine events, and famous flower shows.

London Weather in May

The spring weather in London is unpredictable. You can expect anything from frosty or damp to warm. Days start to get longer in May, when average daily sunshine increases to more than six hours.

  • Average high: 62 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius)
  • Average low: 46 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius)

Brief showers may also appear, with rainfall averaging around 2.5 inches per month during the spring and an average of about eight wet days. May is usually the month with the least humidity.

What to Pack

To be prepared for London's changeable weather in May, packing layers is the best bet. Keep a lightweight waterproof jacket and umbrella with you on days you venture out. It rarely snows in London at this time of year, but you'll need coverage in the event of rain. Comfortable shoes are helpful for walking around the city and bringing hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses will protect you from the sun.

May Events in London

Spring is on full display in London by the end of May, and with the warmer temperatures and less rain, plenty of fun outdoors is available, punctuated by a holiday to reflect on the city's history.

  • The RHS Chelsea Flower Show: Florists and breeders debut their new plants each May on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. RHS, which stands for the Royal Horticultural Society, features the Great Pavilion with more than 100 nurseries. A variety of restaurants, as well as trade stands selling products and accessories, are also onsite.
  • Football's FA Cup Final: In the U.K., football means soccer, and sports fans love this event which takes place on a Saturday in mid-May each year. Brits love American football, too, but they consider it a different game altogether and you'll have a hard time finding a Londoner who calls this game soccer. The FA Cup Final showcases the best in English football.
  • The May Fayre & Puppet Festival: Hosted by Alternative Arts at the garden of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Covent Garden in mid-May, this free event typically includes numerous performances with the famous Punch and Judy and other wooden puppets, along with a brass band procession, clowns, folk music, workshops, and refreshments.
  • London Wine Fair: Once a year wine lovers ages 18 and up come together at Olympia Exhibition Centre to have fun tasting more than 14,000 wines from around the globe, participating in over 80 masterclasses, and buying wines.
  • The Kensington Dollshouse Festival: Held in the middle of May, this annual festival has been happening since 1985 and hosts over 170 artists from all over the globe memorializing every literally tiny aspect of life in miniature. Materials and tools are available for purchase if you're tempted to take up the craft yourself.
  • London Craft Week: This yearly event in May highlights British and international "beyond luxury" crafts through workshops, galleries, and shops, demonstrations, product launches, and more.
  • London History Day: Each May 31, the city's past is celebrated as locals reflect on London's historic people and places such as bridges, ships, shops, and other buildings, plus sites such as Watling Street—an ancient Roman road.

May Travel Tips

  • Two public bank holidays take place in May when banks and many other businesses shut their doors for the day, although shops and attractions often remain open. Londoners celebrate May Day on the first Monday of the month. The last Monday in May is Spring Bank Holiday or Whitsun, the British name for Pentecost, a Christian festival celebrated 49 days after Easter. Many locals enjoy various events on their days off, so expect more than the usual May crowds.
  • At this time of year, the parks in London are blooming and a nice place to take a stroll and soak in some natural scenery. Victoria Park, the city's oldest, offers a boating pond and playgrounds for kids, or you may prefer checking out hundreds of deer roaming at Richmond Park.
  • Spring is a popular tourist season, so accommodations and flight prices will be higher; book in advance for the best deals.
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