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What's on in London this May 2017 near Kensington, London

London is glorious in springtime: brighter light and longer daylight hours, luscious green grass in the parks and an abundance of colourful flowers appearing. This month has two public holidays (on 1 and 29 May) so that means two long weekends to enjoy.

THE PINK FLOYD: THEIR MORTAL REMAINS

There was huge excitement when this V&A exhibition was announced last year and now the wait is over. The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains opens on 13 May and runs until 1 October 2017.

To mark 50 years since the band released their first single Arnold Layne, and over 200 million record sales later, this is the first major international retrospective of Pink Floyd. It's an immersive, multi-sensory and theatrical journey chronicling the music, iconic visuals and staging of the band, from the underground psychedelic scene in 1960s London to today.

Highlighting their ground-breaking use of special effects, sonic experimentation, powerful imagery and social commentary, this is the first collaboration in decades of Pink Floyd's remaining members.

Previously unseen artefacts are on display alongside works from the V&A's outstanding collections of art, design, architecture and performance. Visitors can see spectacular set and construction pieces from some of Pink Floyd's most innovative and legendary album covers and stage performances including The Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall and The Division Bell, instruments, music technology, original designs, architectural drawings, handwritten lyrics and psychedelic prints and posters.

SOHO

Crazy and unexpected, SOHO at The Peacock Theatre is a thrill ride of circus, street dance and theatre in this anything goes trip around the streets where glamour and sleaze rub shoulders. Soaring aerial acrobatics on moving trapezes take the energetic world-class performers on a rollercoaster ride.

SOHO is a fast-paced story of a young man's walk on the wild side, as the colourful characters he meets reveal an unexpected and darkly fantastical world. It's a recreation of the exciting, edgy and voyeuristic world of London’s world-famous Soho district created by rock'n'roll global powerhouse Stufish. Stufish design arena productions for Lady Gaga, Madonna, Robbie Williams and more, and have also created The Pink Floyd Exhibition – Their Mortal Remains exhibition at the V&A.

The show has an iconic soundtrack of familiar music and songs sets the scene for the many changing faces of SOHO through the decades; from the burlesque of the 50s to the Love and Peace Carnaby Street generation of the 60s, from the disco and street punk of the 70s to the Cool Britannia Pop of the 80s and 90s. SOHO is on from 6 to 20 May.

THE LAST SUPPER

At the Science Museum, within the Robots exhibition, you can see a 13 minute robotic performance of The Last Supper.

Created by kinetic artist and sculptor Giles Walker, it took over a year to create and build the twelve figures from an old CPR dummy, mannequins, bird skulls and electric motors. Giles Walker's atmospheric installation follows a long tradition of artworks that use life-like machines to explore human identity and morality.

The figures sit around a large table drinking and smoking. On the table bird-headed creatures join in the revelries and at the centre a child stands in front of a cross. The twelve figures discuss their views on sin, forgiveness, guilt and judgement as music plays and the 'last supper' requests of death-row inmates are read.

The Last Supper can be seen daily until 29 May at 11.15am, 1.30pm, 3.45pm and 4.30pm. There is a warning that this performance contains strong language (see this video for an idea of what to expect).

KENSINGTON DOLLSHOUSE FESTIVAL

For a much more wholesome suggestion this month, why not visit the Kensington Dollshouse Festival? The Festival has been happening since 1985 and this year it's on 12 and 13 May in Kensington Town Hall.

Miniature enthusiasts can meet over 170 artists from across the world who can perfectly replicate everyday life in a scaled-down size.

This is not just a day out for collectors but is also a fascinating event for art lovers of all ages. And if you want to give it a go, there are craft materials and tools on sale too.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HOUSE CANDLELIT TOUR

As part of the annual Museums at Night, there are Candlelit Architectural Tours of the Benjamin Franklin House on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 May at 6pm, 7pm and 8pm.

This is a rare after hours opportunity to visit the home of one of America's Founding Fathers. The atmospheric rooms of Benjamin Franklin's only remaining residence feature in this night-time architectural tour, highlighting the original features of the Grade I listed Georgian townhouse in evening light.

CANALETTO & THE ART OF VENICE

The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace has a wonderful exhibition opening this month. Canaletto & the Art of Venice opens on 19 May and runs until 12 November 2017. The Queen's Gallery displays the artworks in The Royal Collection, many of which rarely get seen by the public.

While The National Gallery (Room 38) has a wonderful display of Canaletto paintings, The Royal Collection is said to contain the world's finest group of paintings, drawings and prints by Venice's most famous view-painter, Canaletto (1697-1768).

Canaletto was favoured by English collectors. He visited England repeatedly between 1746-56. The works on display in The Queen's Gallery were bought by the young George III in 1762 from Canaletto's agent and dealer Joseph Smith, British Consul in Venice, along with the rest of Smith's huge collection.

Displays beside Canaletto's greatest works, visitors can see a wider selection of eighteenth-century Venetian paintings and works on paper by Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Francesco Zuccarelli, Rosalba Carriera, Pietro Longhi and Giovanni Battista Piazzetta.

MICHAEL PALIN

If you do decide to also see the Canaletto artworks at the National Gallery you could also enjoy this Michael Palin in Conversation event on Friday 5 May, 6.30-7.30pm. The gallery stays open to 9pm on Fridays so you'll have time to explore afterwards.

Michael Palin will be talking with Caroline Campbell, The Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department, to reveal his favourite paintings at the National Gallery, and discussing what they mean to him.

As he is someone who loves to travel I'm hoping Canaletto gets a mention.

DON CARLO

The third revival of Nicholas Hytner’s acclaimed production of Verdi's Don Carlo is at the Royal Opera House this month (12-29 May). It's an opera about love, betrayal, ambition, religion and intrigue in 16th-century Spain.

It is based on the 1787 dramatic poem by Friedrich Schiller and was first performed at the Paris Opera in 1867. Verdi made extensive revisions to the opera over the following 20 years. This production by Nicholas Hytner follows the five-act 1886 version – Verdi's final revision of the work. The Royal Opera's staging provides a powerful backdrop, and conjures up the Renaissance grandeur of 16th century France and Spain.

The show involves a complicated love story as Elizabeth of Valois is promised in marriage to Don Carlos of Spain, as part of a peace treaty between the two kingdoms. They declare their love and then the terms of the treaty change so Elizabeth has to marry Carlos's father Philip instead.

 

Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on Twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

 

Required image credits: Pink Floyd Exhibition: Hands over eyes © Pink Floyd Music Ltd photo by Storm Thorgerson/Aubrey 'Po' Powell 1971 Belsize Park  |  Canaletto, Venice: The Bacino di S. Marco on Ascension Day, c.1733-4: Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016  |  Don Carlo: Mariusz Kwiecien as Rodrigo and Anja Harteros as Elizabeth in Don Carlo © ROH / Catherine Ashmore 2013