It’s May and we are literally singing from the towers about it. Head to Oxford and hear a dawn hymn sung from a college tower to celebrate the arrival of spring. Don’t forget your floral garland as you’ll need to hang on to it for the world’s most famous flower show later this month. There are also celebrations taking place for International Dylan Thomas Day and London History Day takes place on 31 May – the day that Big Ben first started ticking.
If all these festivities are making you hungry, then we can recommend another festival where you can enjoy some fresh local crab. Let’s hope you don’t have to catch it first.
1 May Morning in Oxford – 1 May
May Morning in Oxford is a historical Oxford tradition that celebrates the arrival of spring. The festivities begin at 6am when thousands gather to hear a Latin hymn sung from the top of Magdalen College tower. This is followed by other festivities across the city with singing, dancing and flower garlands to celebrate spring.
After you’ve finished singing and dancing take our guided tour of Oxford. Oxford is the ‘city of dreaming spires’ and is home to the oldest English-language university in the world. Its 38 individual colleges with their chapels, halls, gardens and ‘quads’ (squares) form one of the most stunning architectural set-pieces in the world.
2 Salcombe Crab Festival – or Crabfest! 5 May
If you’re a seafood lover then you must head down to Salcombe in South Devon this month for the annual Crab Festival. The local brown crab called the Cancer Pagurus is supposedly the best in the world – which is why the festival started. As well as celebrating crabs you’ll be able to learn about the local fishing and food and see cookery demonstrations including learning how to crack open and cook crabs!
After the Crabfest why not head up to North Devon and take our private guided tour of the beautiful coastline and landscape. Let us show you some of the country’s most charming fishing villages: discover the timeless Clovelly, where the steep cobbled street tumbles down past gleaming white cottages to the tiny, deep-blue harbour.
3. International Dylan Thomas Day – 14 May
An international day to celebrate the life and work of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, held each year on 14th May, the anniversary of the date when Under Milk Wood was first read on stage at 92Y The Poetry Center, New York in 1953.
There are events happening all around the country. In particular, there are readings at his birthplace in Swansea and in the sea village of Laugharne. Laugharne could be the one place which captures the soul of Dylan. Thomas remarked that he got off the bus here, and forgot to get back on. It’s not difficult to see why: a writer could not wish for a more romantic setting, with the ragged remains of a castle standing watch over the green marshes and ‘heron-priested shore’ of the Taff estuary.
Read more about the life of Dylan Thomas.
4 The RHS Chelsea Flower Show – 21 – 25 May
Showcasing the very best of all things to do with gardening is the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show. Garden design, nurseries, specialist growers, shopping and plants from all around the world as well as the famous Great Pavilion. All green-fingered enthusiasts will want to join in with the thrill of this event.
Have you ever wondered about the history of our gardens and how they started? We take a look at the story of British horticulture, from the Romans to the Olympics. It was the Romans who were Britain’s first pleasure gardeners. They settled on this island of fertile soil and ample rain and filled it with exotic new species from across their empire: juniper and box for hedges; roses, rosemary and lavender to make perfumes and colourful flowers such as crocus and pansy.
5 London History Day – 31 May
Celebrate London’s unique identity on London History Day. This annual celebration takes place on the 31 May, the day that Big Ben first began to tick. There will be special events, tours, exhibits, film screenings and displays in London’s galleries, museums and open spaces – the theme for this year is courage.
Whilst you’re in London, we offer a range of private guided tours so you can make the most of your time in the capital. If you don’t have much time then take our London tour where we’ll show you the most important attractions. See our full range of London tours.