The UK’s top things to do with kids this May
Raves, snot, sick and scabs with some mud, festivals, sheep and boat puppets thrown in.
We’ve combed the UK for the best family events to see you through the bank holidays, half term and everything between this May.
Big Fish, Little Fish
Remind yourself that you were once fun and reach for the lasers… while holding your kid’s half-chewed banana at mini rave giants, Big Fish, Little Fish’s May shindigs.
The first kicks off on 21 May at Hackney Colour Factory’s double height warehouse, with dancefloor anthems, bubbles, snow, giant balloons and parachute dance finale. Nifty Natty Craft provide tables with giant mural, crafts and play-doh. Plus play area with tents and tunnels and Villa Pia baby chill-out space with mats and soft-play ball pool.
Or embrace your mini-hippies on 15 May at the Flower Power party at Ealing’s West Five Bar, with Sixties dress, face painting, club classics and all of the above.
Big Fish, Little Fish 21 May ay Hackney Colour Factory, London, E9 5EN and 15 May at West Five Bar, London, W5 4NT
Tales from the Shed
Performers and kids share the same, vibrant space in these brilliantly inclusive theatre shows for young children.
Each show incorporates educational songs, movement and language games, which help promote brain development and early learning.
Having worked in partnership with early years experts more than three decades, their diverse team present educational stories featuring Chickenshed's popular characters - from Can-Can the bird to laid-back Lion Down and The Thing That Goes Bleurgh!
Chickenshed, 23 Apr - 16 Jul, 290 Chase Side, London N14 4PE
Snot, Sick and Scabs at the Centre of the Cell
Deliciously disgusting and sneakily educational centre in a futuristic, light-studded pod suspended above the laboratories of the Blizard Institute in Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Children can learn about the heart, teeth or senses, see scientists at work and enjoy their delightfully vile ‘Snot, Sick and Scabs’ session.
Centre of the Cell, 4 Newark St, London E1 2AT
Free Bagel Breakfast Block Party
If the words “free" and “party" don’t tempt you, then perhaps the word “BAGELS” will?
The New York Bakery Co. is bringing this free event for all ages to Shoreditch on 7 May, including complimentary, fully-loaded bagels for all visitors plus an immersive, family experience which allows you to enjoy a slice of the Big Apple in the heart of London.
Bagel Breakfast Block Party, 7 May, 10.30am - 4.30pm, Ely’s Yard, Shoreditch, London
Draw With Rob at Discover Children's Story Centre
Join Rob Biddulph, award-winning author-illustrator and Discover's creative partner for new immersive exhibition The 100 Story Hotel, in a session for all the family.
Rob helped everybody get through lockdown with his brilliant #DrawwithRob videos and now you can join in live with one of his famous draw-alongs.
Learn about Rob’s journey from budding artist to award-winning picture book creator, Guinness World Record holder and now middle grade author. Pens and paper provided.
While you’re there, you can check out the three floors of immersive, story-telling deliciousness, including Biddulph’s 100 Story Hotel experience - check out our review HERE
Discover Children's Story Centre, 7 May, 383-387 High St, London E15 4QZ
Pinocchio at Little Angel Theatre
Step inside Geppetto’s workshop and watch as Pinocchio is carved on stage, paint brushes come to life as foxes and the shadow of two saws transforms into a giant fish in this gorgeously creative show, combining puppetry, shadows, illusion and original music.
Littler Angel Theatre, 29 April - 26 June, Little Angel Theatre 14 Dagmar Passage London N1 2DN
The Puppet Theatre Barge’s Three Little Pigs
Kids will love this charmingly low-fi magic aboard the UK’s only floating puppet theatre.
Moored at Little Venice, the tiny foyer provides wonderfully imaginative, intimate and clever shows.
And this May, they can enjoy The Three Little Pigs plus Captain Grimey puppet storytelling on 26 March - 24 Apil plus My Shadow and Me, a multi-award-winning blend of skill, simplicity, humour and shadow magic from 30 April - 15 May.
The Puppet Theatre Barge, opposite, 35 Blomfield Rd, London W9 2PF
OAE TOTS: The King of the Sea
Plunge your sprogs into Southbank Centre's Poseidon underwater world in an interactive Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment concert for ages two to five, featuring music from Baroque greats.
Southbank Centre, 29 May, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road; London, SE1
Plastic Drastic Fantastic
Get yourselves down to southwest London’s kiddie gem, Polka Theatre and wrap your eyes and children around its £8.5 MILLION makeover, including theatre for babies, toddlers, indoor playspace, playground with treehouse, sensory room, a large café and more.
Its new dance show has been created with award-winning South Asian dance company Akademi, exploring our complex relationship - from the molecular to the planetary - with all things plastic for everybody from 7 years and above.
Through dance, intricate movements, play and lots of audience interaction, Plastic Drastic Fantastic draws on stories and ideas from children and young people, disentangling the fantastic possibilities of plastic from the drastic consequences of their misuse.
Polka Theatre, 7 April - 8 May, 240 The Broadway, London SW19 1SB
Free Art Sundays at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Kicking off on 29 May, these brilliant, free sessions encourage families to experiment with colour and make different artworks inspired the gallery’s Reframed Woman in the Window exhibition or their collection.
The activities are aimed at 7–12 year olds and their families, but siblings and families of all ages are welcome.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, 29 May, Gallery Rd, London SE21 7AD
THE REST OF THE UK
Big Family Day Out at Highest Point Festival
The Big Family Day Out is back for its fourth year at the Lancaster-based event on 15 May, with festival-themed activities for all ages, including Live music, Interactive Theatre, Storytelling, Arts and crafts, Entry to the Butterfly House and Mini Zoo, Drumming workshops, Science Shows and more.
Expect disco dancing in the woods; making instruments out of recycled rubbish and learning to drum with samba specialists, Batala.
Highest Point Festival,15 May, Williamson Park, Quernmore Rd, Lancaster LA1 1UX
The Little Welly Goes Wild in Kent.
Mud is the great uniter of kids and The Little Welly experience (literally) has it in spades.
This event encourages them to run, jump, climb and cover every fibre of their being in the brown stuff.
This year will see an even bigger course with new obstacles, on top of the 30 favourites, as well as unusual and traditional activities, plus live entertainment, food and drink in its Festival Village.
The Little Welly, 15 May, Wings of the Morning Field, St Clere Estate, Sevenoaks
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World
The brilliantly inspiring, new musical Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World tours the UK in May, including runs in Cornwall, Exeter, Cheltenham, Oxford and Sheffield.
Based on the popular children’s books by author and illustrator Kate Pankhurst and created by the producers of SIX, the show follows young heroine Jade as she meets remarkable women from history on a school trip to the Gallery of Greatness, including Rosa Parks, Jane Austen, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart and Mary Seacole, as well as women whose incredible impact has been forgotten, such as Gertrude Ederle, Sacagawea and Mary Anning.
The musical - with its catchy pop soundtrack from songwriters for Miley Cyrus, Girls Aloud and Demi Lovato - is touring the UK until late August, including a summer run at London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East.
Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World, Multiple UK tour dates
Thorpe Park Mardi Gras Event
Thorpe Park launches its brand new Mardi Gras family event on 19 May in an explosion of beads, feathers and sequins.
Expect authentic Louisiana street-food and live entertainment, alongside adrenaline-charged rides like Nemesis Inferno, as your legs dangle beneath 750 meters of twisted track.
For more info on Thorpe’s thrill-seeking island’s plans, check out our piece HERE
Thorpe Park, 19 May - 19 June, Thorpe Park, Staines Rd, Chertsey KT16 8PN
Sheep Show At Kent Life
This May, you can check out a Sheep Show at the 28 acre farm - shearing and wool crafts, rather than breakdancing sheep.
There are also farm animals, a cuddle corner, an entire, Vintage Village from World War II, a pot painting studio, three-floor softplay barn, outdoor play area and land trains and tractors.
Kent Life, 28 May - 1 June, Lock Ln, Maidstone ME14 3AU
Check out the stonking £1.6billion transformation of the Dundee Waterfront, which has seen the installation of a stunning new Urban Beach, a cycle hub, new Tay Whale sculpture which sits above a new digital playpark. The area leads to the fabulous V&A Dundee, which has a number of free to enjoy exhibitions for the whole family.
Dundee Waterfront, Dock St, Dundee DD1 3AZ
Comedy Club 4 Kids
Since 2005 they’ve enlisted stand-ups and sketch acts - including Phil Jupitus and Adam Buxton - to perform for family audiences, providing the fun, rowdy feel of a real comedy club, but softened and sweetened for smaller funny bones. This show features Eleanor Morton, Ben Van Der Velde and El Baldiniho.
Comedy Club 4 Kids, 21 May, Komedia Brighton