On 18 May, Paris will take part in the annual Night of Museums, with more than 150 museums and cultural spaces opening their doors at sunset for a free, fresh look at the capital’s cultural heritage.

Started in 2005 to attract a younger public to the city’s museums, the successful event has since expanded throughout Europe. From early evening to around 1 am, drink in the festive vibe as establishments put on special events and activities, including concerts, performances, light installations and guided tours.

Highlights this year include story telling on the theme of transformation at the hunting museum, Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature; previously unseen fine artworks from the reserves at the grandiose Petit Palais; a dance performance underneath Monet’s iconic Waterlilies at the Musée National de l’Orangerie; and a performance by contemporary artist Michelangelo Pistoletto at the Louvre, which will move to the Monnaie de Paris museum over the course of the evening.

For the full programme of events, see the Nuit des Musées website and follow the Facebook and Twitter pages.

Kim Laidlaw is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.