What is the best time of year to visit London?
The best time to travel to London is during the mild weather of spring (March through April) and fall (Mid-September through November). Though there will be plenty of tourists, the city tends not to be quite as cramped as in the summer, when weather is ideal. During this time, it’s easier to get hotel and theatre reservations, and airfares might be lower, as well.
- Best Time to Book London Hotels: London is a busy year-round destination. Try to book the Best London Hotels and the Best London Hotels for Families 4 to 6 months in advance.
- Best Time to See the Royal Sites: Summer is your best bet for a chance to see all things royal in London, as many residences only open to the public while the occupants are away on holiday. The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are available to tour in late July through September, Kew Palace is closed during the winter months, and Clarence House (home to the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall) only opens to the public in August — the sole month of the year in which all sites are tourable. Buckingham Palace’s Changing of the Guard happens daily from April through July, and on alternate days for the remainder of the year, if weather allows. June brings the pomp and pageantry of Trooping the Colour – the Queen’s birthday parade and annual regimental review – as well as the chance to hobnob with the aristocratic crowd at Royal Ascot.
- Best Time for Shopping: All the best sales in London, including Harrods’s ultra-popular summer sale, happen in late June and early July. Shops are busiest and generate most of their revenue during December – expect much in the way of festive atmosphere during this month, but not many bargains. The post-Christmas January sales combined with that month’s lull in tourism can generate savings across the board in shopping, airfare, and hotel rates. Those looking for great deals year-round can head just north of London to Bicester Village, the luxury outlet center where Kate Middleton has been rumored to shop.
- Best Time for Shows & Theatre: Tickets to West End shows are easiest to come by during the January/February tourism lull, and many can be found at deep discount during this time through the annual GILT (Get Into London Theatre) promotion. August is a bit of a mixed bag: theatre-going families can score free children’s tickets during London Theatre’s Kids Week, but many smaller shows and comedy acts have packed up and headed north this month for Edinburgh’s annual Fringe Festival. These shows will be back, along with new acts straight from The Fringe, to usher in the new theatre season in September.
- Best Time for Kids and Families: London is a great city to visit with kids, and it can be surprisingly affordable given that there are loads of free museums and galleries and getting around is easy and inexpensive – kids under 11 travel free on buses and the Tube. Every August, London Theatre’s Kids Week offers one free child’s ticket for every adult ticket purchased for many of the West End’s top shows – along with backstage tours, workshops, and actor Q&A’s to amuse and enlighten budding thespians. (Kids Week tickets go on sale in June, and the popular shows sell out quickly, so plan in advance.) Summer’s warm weather is perfect for burning off excess energy in London’s parks and playgrounds, but expect family-friendly attractions to be busiest when school’s out – not only during summer, but around Christmas and Easter as well, and at the half-term breaks that happen in February, May, and October. If your family can travel in the spring or the fall, you’ll hit the sweet spot where the weather is pleasant and prices aren’t sky-high. The charm of Christmas in London can be magical for a child, but the seasonal crowds can be tough to manage with small ones and strollers.
- Best Time for Museums and Galleries: London’s museums and galleries are quietest during the January and February dip in tourism – they won’t be empty, but you’re likely to avoid lines and large crowds. The week between Christmas and New Years can be surprisingly sleepy as well. Expect family-friendly attractions (Natural History Museum, Science Museum, London Transport Museum, etc.) to be at their busiest when kids are out of school for summer, around major holidays, and during February, May, and October’s half-term breaks. It’s worth noting that many museums and galleries offer later visiting hours at least once a week, giving night owls a chance for a (relatively) quiet visit once the daytime crowds have gone.
- Best Time for Christmas Activities: Christmas comes early to London, providing ample opportunity to enjoy the seasonal festivities. Most store displays, holiday markets, and skating rinks are up and open for business by mid-November. The grand tree in Trafalgar Square is lit during the first week of December, and Christmas plays and pantomimes are performed throughout that month into early January. Many museums and attractions are closed from 24-26 December (and everything, including public transportation, shuts down on Christmas Day), so sightseers would do best to plan trips before or after this time. Boxing Day sales bring massive crowds out to the shops during the week between Christmas and New Years, but museums and galleries remain relatively quiet. Expect lights, displays, and markets to stay up through early January.
London Travel Seasons
- High Season (May to Mid-September, December): London is most heavily touristed in the late spring and summer months, when the weather is warm and kids are off school, and during the December rush of shopping and seasonal activities. Expect long lines, booked hotels, and peak airline prices during these times. Book flights, show tickets, and hotel and dinner reservations well in advance.
- Shoulder Season (Mid-September through November, March through April): London’s mild spring and fall weather brings plenty of tourists, though the city tends not to be as overrun as it is in the summer. It’s easier to get hotel and theatre reservations, and airfares fall into the reasonable range. Weather can be extremely variable around these times, so layering clothing and an umbrella are a good idea.
- Low Season (January and February): Expect cool temperatures and heavy rains during these months, along with a substantial decrease in tourism. Those who don’t mind the damp and chill can find great deals on airfare and hotel rates in the off-season months, and will be rewarded with smaller crowds and queues. Pack warm clothes and an umbrella.
London Weather by Month
London Temperature by Month (high in Celsius)
London Rain by Month (mm)
- London Weather in January: January is London’s coldest month, with an average daily high of 9°C. It’s rarely cold enough for snow, though if a cold snap is going to happen, this’ll be the month for it. Generally expect consistent rain and damp, cold winds. One would do well to plan for warm clothes, waterproof boots, and inside activities. (Average Max Temperature: 9°C. Average Precipitation: 52mm.)
- London Weather in February: Temperatures remain cold throughout this month, though the rain eases into showers and there’s good possibility for a sunny day here and there. By the end of this month, the earliest spring flowers will be up and beginning to bloom. (Average Max Temperature: 9°C. Average Precipitation: 39mm.)
- London Weather in March: London’s March weather is notoriously difficult to predict. Depending on the year, mid-March in London could be 18°C and sunny, or just above freezing with snow showers. The daily average high creeps up throughout the month, however, along with springtime flowers and the possibility of seeing the sun. (Average Max Temperature: 12°C. Average Precipitation: 35mm.)
- London Weather in April: Like March, April in London is a mixed bag of chilly weather and warm, spring-like days. You’ll want to pack light layers and a good coat to be prepared for any possibility. Generally, temperatures hover in the teens Celsius, spring is in full bloom, and the warming trend continues. (Average Max Temperature: 15°C. Average Precipitation: 43mm.)
- London Weather in May: May can be a glorious month to visit London. Temps average in the high teens, parks are green and blooming, and late sunsets stretch daylight hours until about 9pm. As in any London month, however, cloudy days can be damp and chilly, and it’s best to be prepared for the possibility of rain. (Average Max Temperature: 18°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
- London Weather in June: London’s long June days average eight hours of sunlight, and temperatures increase while cloud cover decreases throughout the month. Rain showers are possible, though June is one of the city’s driest months. (Average Max Temperature: 21°C. Average Precipitation: 43mm.)
- London Weather in July: July is London’s warmest and driest month, seeing 7-10 wet days and temps averaging in the low 20s Celsius. Humidity ranges from 46-85%, and nights can be cool. The un-air-conditioned Underground can be particularly sticky around this time – it’s a good idea to dress in light layers and carry a bottle of water. (Average Max Temperature: 23°C. Average Precipitation: 41mm.)
- London Weather in August: Summer’s warm weather continues through August, with temperatures beginning to fall slightly toward the end of the month. Expect high temps in the low 20s, and lows in the mid-teens, but be prepared (as always in London) for the possibility of rain. (Average Max Temperature: 23°C. Average Precipitation: 48mm.)
- London Weather in September: September sees a bit of cooling as London heads toward autumn. The daily high temperature averages around 20°C, and days are shortening – sunset will be around 7:30pm. The possibility of rain still looms, but it’ll likely fall in showers, not downpours. (Average Max Temperature: 20°C. Average Precipitation: 49mm.)
- London Weather in October: Heavy rains and mist return to London in October, the wettest month of the city’s year. With an average of only 15 rainy days, however, you’re as likely to see sun as get drenched. Trees are changing colors and dropping their leaves, and days that aren’t wet and windy can be delightful for walking around, with high temps in the upper teens. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 71mm.)
- London Weather in November: London temperatures continue to drop throughout November, with highs averaging in the low teens, and rain becoming steadier. Expect and plan for cold, wet, and windy, though you may be surprised by a day or two of pleasant sunshine. (Average Max Temperature: 12°C. Average Rainfall: 63mm.)
- London Weather in December: Cold, wet, and dark. Temperatures generally stay below 10°C, and most days are rainy, though snow is uncommon. Days average one hour of sunlight, with the sun setting by 4pm – all the better to enjoy the festive seasonal lights and displays. (Average Max Temperature: 9°C. Average Precipitation: 53mm.)
London Events and Festivals by Month
London Events in January
- London’s New Year’s Day Parade – Huge American-style street parade from Piccadilly to Parliament Square, noon on January 1st.
- London International Mime Festival – Much more than mimes, a celebration of circus and performance art, puppetry, and shadow plays at various venues across central London.
- London Theatre New Year Sale – Deeply discounted tickets for more than 65 top London shows for performances throughout January and February. Tickets typically go on sale in December.
London Events in February
- Chinese New Year Celebration – The largest outside of Asia, with lion dances, a parade through the West End, and cultural entertainment in Trafalgar Square, Chinatown, and Shaftesbury Avenue.
- London Fashion Week – The fashion industry converges on Somerset House in central London, where the best designers in the world show off their fall collections in a week of invitation-only exhibitions and parties.
London Events in March
- BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival – The British Film Institute’s celebration of queer cinema, showcasing over 50 critically acclaimed international films at BFI Southbank.
- The University Boat Race – 250,000 spectators line the banks of the Thames from Putney to the Chiswick Bridge to view the annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Takes place in late March or early April.
London Events in April
- London Marathon – Traffic snarls and onlookers cheer as 36,000 runners make the trek along the Thames from Blackheath/Greenwich to the Mall in St. James Park.
London Events in May
- Chelsea Flower Show – The horticultural equivalent of London Fashion Week. Display gardens, botanical exhibits, and 157,000 visitors on the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.
London Events in June
- Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – Artwork from honored and emerging artists alike is showcased at Burlington House in Piccadilly during the world’s largest open submission art exhibition. (June – August)
- Trooping the Colour – It’s pageantry galore as the Queen inspects her troops and leads them down The Mall from Horse Guard’s Parade to Buckingham Palace in her annual birthday march.
- Royal Ascot – Royals and riffraff alike dress up, drink champagne, and play the ponies at this crème de la crème of British horseracing events.
- Taste of London – Sample the wares from some of London’s best restaurants and watch cooking demonstrations at this popular food and wine festival in Regents Park.
- Open Garden Squares Weekend – Over 300 of London’s most secret and spectacular gardens open to the public for one weekend only.
- The Wimbledon Championships – Two-week-long international grand slam tennis tournament in late June and early July. Takes place at the All England Club in Wimbledon (40 minutes by train from central London).
London Events in July
- Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – See June.
- The Wimbledon Championships – See June.
- Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – Display gardens and horticultural workshops abound at the world’s largest annual flower show in southwest London.
- BBC Proms – Classical music fans pack Royal Albert Hall during this eight week festival of orchestral music, featuring daily concerts and £5 tickets for those “prommers” who are willing to forgo a seat. (July — September)
- Pride in London – Weeklong celebration of all things GLBT, culminating in a massive parade through central London, from Baker Street to Trafalgar Square. Party in the square, and after-party in Soho.
London Events in August
- Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – See June.
- BBC Proms – See July.
- Notting Hill Carnival – Europe’s biggest street festival is a two-day Caribbean party with live music, food, spectacular floats and costumes, and more than a million revelers. Taking place over August Bank Holiday weekend in W10, west London.
London Events in September
- BBC Proms – See July.
- Totally Thames (The Mayor’s Thames Festival) – A month-long arts and cultural celebration of, on, and around the River Thames, with colorful regattas, river-races, and community events.
- Open City London – An architecture and design event weekend, in which hundreds of usually off-limit historic buildings and architecturally important sites are opened to the public for touring. Free and taking place across London, with some sites requiring advanced registration.
- London Fashion Week – The fashion industry converges on Somerset House in central London, where the best designers in the world show off their spring collections in a week of invitation-only exhibitions and parties.
London Events in October
- Frieze Fair – Browse or buy works by renowned and emerging artists at two massive art fairs taking place in Regents Park: find contemporary pieces at Frieze London, and ancient through mid-century works at Frieze Masters.
- BFI London Film Festival – The British Film Institute’s annual fall celebration of cinema, showing hundreds of critically acclaimed international works and Hollywood premiers at BFI Southbank and IMAX theatres.
- Dance Umbrella – International two week-long dance festival, celebrating 21st-century choreography from across the world at various London venues.
- Diwali on the Square – Thousands pack Trafalgar square to celebrate the festival of lights with live music and dance, food and market stalls, and family-friendly activities.
London Events in November
- Guy Fawkes Night/Bonfire Night – Annual remembrance of the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605, with bonfires and fireworks across London. Alexandra Palace and Battersea Park have the grandest displays. Celebrated on and around 5 November, with the largest events occurring over the nearest weekend.
- The Lord Mayor’s Show – A flotilla down the Thames and a fireworks display over it bookend this grand street parade and carnival in honor of the year’s newly elected Lord Mayor of London. Takes place the 2nd Saturday in November.
- Remembrance Sunday – The heroes and victims of war are honored on the 2nd Sunday in November with a parade, memorial concerts, and a royal ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
- EFG London Jazz Festival – Ten-day celebration of vocal and instrumental jazz music, featuring hundreds of British and international acts at venues across London. Some events are free, and many are family-friendly.
- Taste of London Winter – Sample the wares from some of London’s best restaurants and watch cooking demonstrations at this popular food and wine festival at Tobacco Dock in Regents Park.
- Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park – Get into the Christmas spirit with festive food, drink, circus shows, ice skating, fairground rides, and of course, Santa Claus. Mid-November through New Years.
London Events in December
- Christmas Markets – Peruse foodie gifts and hand-crafted items at the seasonal markets that set up all around London from late November through the New Year, the most popular being at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and near the London Eye in South Bank.
- Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree – A massive 20 meter Norway spruce is an iconic backdrop for a month of caroling and Christmas festivities. The tree lighting ceremony is held on the first Thursday in November, and the tree remains up through 6 January.
- Ice Skating Rinks – Celebrate the season on skates! Rinks at the Natural History Museum and Hyde Park are the largest. Those at Somerset House, the Tower of London, Hampton Court, and Kew Gardens are your best bets for a seasonal skate in an iconic setting.
- New Year’s Eve Fireworks – Tens of thousands of spectators gather on the banks of the Thames to watch this spectacular display near the London Eye. Buy tickets in advance to secure a spot with the best views of this popular year-end celebration.
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