London is one of those cities that has a charm to it no matter what time of the year you visit. Having said that, if you’re looking to avoid the tourist crowds in summer, it’s best to consider visiting in spring or fall.
To help you decide when to visit, I’ve put together all the exciting events that both seasons have to offer.
London’s temperatures rarely differ between spring or fall, and you can expect warm days in both seasons. Spring and fall are the rainiest seasons, so remember your umbrella! But don’t let the rain get you down – both seasons have plenty of events that’ll make your time in the capital memorable.
Keep reading to find out what’s on offer in both seasons.
What to do in London in the Spring
Spring in the UK comes early, with mild temperatures and blossoming trees appearing as early as late February. At the start of spring you’ll find cheaper accommodation deals, but keep in mind that prices usually increase in March and April as it hits the Easter holidays. The months between February and May are packed with events to suit everyone, from couples and families to nature lovers and sports fans.
February in London
For schools in the UK, the spring half term holidays take place during the middle of February. This means that there are more families and children out and about in the city compared to quieter months. However, it’s still a good time to visit, especially if you’re travelling without children.
Imagine Children’s Festival
Having said that, if you are travelling with kids then you should definitely check out the Imagine Children’s Festival at the Southbank Centre. This is a 12 day arts festival that happens in February each year, dedicated to families experiencing all sorts of art and culture together. Expect to see performances, music, literature, comedy, creativity and parties for children aged 0 – 11.
If you’re travelling with your significant other, then why not celebrate Valentine’s Day while you’re in London? Whether you like to keep it casual or go all out, the city isn’t short of romantic spots. Try something different with a dinner cruise on the Thames. Or snuggle up next to the fire at one of London’s many pubs. Or try a quintessential English afternoon tea, with many places featuring themed menus for the occasion.
Don’t laugh just yet. In London, there’s a long tradition of Pancake Day races held to raise money for charity. Head to one of the city’s many markets to witness the fun-filled event, and cheer on contestants as they flip pancakes in a frying pan while they try to complete the race course. Don’t forget to treat yourself too – many cafes do special pancake menus to mark the occasion. Pancake Day usually takes place in February, but may sometimes fall in March, depending on the date for Easter.
London Fashion Week
London Fashion Week comes to the city every February and September. Showcasing over 250 designers, it is one of the ‘Big Four’ fashion weeks, along with New York, Milan and Paris. The February event showcases the fall/winter collections from the designers, sharing trends for the following season. Traditionally, Fashion Week was invite-only but is now open to the public. Purchase a ticket to the catwalk shows and you might just rub shoulders with A-list celebrities, reality TV stars, high profile fashion writers, bloggers and photographers.
March in London
While February might still be a bit cold, the weather begins to improve in March. You’ll see the beginning of a ‘proper’ spring, with temperatures averaging 10°C. Most of the city’s parks will be green and blooming by now, making it the perfect time to go out and explore.
St Patrick’s Day
Every 17 March, Ireland celebrates St Patrick’s Day. Although it isn’t a national holiday in England, London joins in the festivities with an annual parade and festival that showcases the best of Irish dance, music, food, culture and arts. The parade usually happens on the weekend closest to 17 March and sets of from Piccadilly along a 2.4km route through the city’s landmarks.
The Boat Race
Make your way to the riverbanks of the Thames and watch teams from Oxford and Cambridge universities race in one of London’s largest annual sporting events. First taking place is 1829, this free event is a must do. Both the women’s and men’s teams battle it out along the 6.8km route along Putney and Mortlake, and you can find great viewing spots either side of the river.
International Women’s Day
8 March is International Women’s Day, and London is not short of events to mark the occasion. Each year, the city celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. There are tons of interesting events to attend, including workshops, talks, performances and festivals.
April in London
April has quite similar weather to March, and may even be slightly rainier. Some days may be cloudy and chilly, and some may be mild and sunny. It’s a good idea to be prepared for different weather conditions, so make sure you pack a waterproof jacket as well as lighter layers.
Easter weekend is a great time to be in London. Although the dates vary each year between March and April, for the most part Easter weekend takes place in April. There are a ton of events going on in the city. Try locally made chocolate eggs, or join an Easter service at one of London’s churches, including Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral. Head to Trafalgar Square to witness The Passion of Jesus, an extraordinary open-air play featuring 100 performers.
Virgin Money London Marathon
First run in 1981, the London Marathon takes place in spring each year, usually in April. Since the first ever run, the marathon has raised over £450 million for charity, and is the largest annual fundraising event in the world. Join millions of people watching and cheering from the sidelines in London’s 42.3km street party!
Feast of St George
Saint George’s Day, also known as the Feast of St George, is England’s national day. All things English are celebrated, so this is a great chance to learn more about English culture. The free festival comes to Trafalgar Square each year, and is complete with live music, brass bands, medieval jousting tiltyard, comedy shows and family games. Since the Feast of St George is traditionally a day of feasting, there are a huge selection of food stalls to sample.
London is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, and over 200 languages are spoken throughout its neighbourhoods. London is known to celebrate diversity with different events and festivals. Each April, Londoners come together to celebrate Vaisakhi, a historical and religious festival in Hinduism and Sikhism. Head to Trafalgar Square to learn more about Sikh and Punjabi tradition, heritage and culture. Take part in fun activities, learn about Gatka – an ancient martial arts, and enjoy traditional food and Indian tea.
May in London
Although May is the start of the peak season, it is a great time to visit London. Average temperatures fall in the high teens and the days are longer, with the sun setting at about 9pm. There are two May bank holidays, which means plenty of events throughout the city.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Each May, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Since its very first show in 1912, it has become the most famous flower and landscape gardens show in the UK. Garden designers, plant specialists and florists come together to create beautiful garden exhibits, floral displays and plant sculptures. The show sees more than 150,000 visitors each year, including members of the British Royal Family.
Chelsea in Bloom
Chelsea in Bloom is a free event that happens alongside RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Chelsea’s best retailers, restaurants and hotels come up with creative flower designs. The designs are on King’s Road, Sloane Street and the little streets in between. They come up with some pretty impressive artwork! There is a different theme each year, in 2019 it was ‘Under the Sea’.
Catch an outdoor cinema event
If you’re a film buff, then you definitely shouldn’t miss rooftop film season. Each May, different venues hold outdoor cinema events in fantastic locations throughout the city. Whether you’d like to watch Jaws while floating on top of a pool, or catch a classic 80s film on a rooftop with 360° views over London, this is something unique to write home about.
London Wine Week
Each May, London celebrates all things vino at this week long festival, with over 100 venues across the city participate in discovering and appreciating wine. The programme includes tastings, showcases, pop-up prosecco gardens, dinners, masterclasses, meet the maker evenings and parties. So if you’re a serious oenophile, or simply just love a glass or two, make sure you don’t miss this event.
London History Day
First held in 2017, London History Day takes place on May 31 each year. The date marks the anniversary that Big Ben was completed in 1859. This is a perfect time to visit the city, as many museums, galleries and cultural spaces offer behind the scenes tours, rarely-seen exhibits and special events. Make the most of the warm May sunshine with historic walking tours of London, a great way to learn more about the city and take all the sights in.
What to do in London in the Fall (Autumn) in London
As the temperatures drop and fall approaches, the busy summer months wind down. It’s easier to find deals on accommodation and airfares around this time of year, and you’ll also find that there is more availability when booking theatre or event tickets. As the leaves turn red and the crisp mornings arrive, stay cosy with these events.
September in London
Schools are back and the tourist crowds start to thin out, which means that London’s sights aren’t as jam-packed. The weather in September starts to cool down, although there can still be warm, mild days. You won’t experience too much rain, although there may be some light showers rather than torrential downpours.
Totally Thames Festival
Every year since 1997, the whole month of September is dedicated to the Totally Thames Festival. There are over 100 events covering art installations, exhibitions, concerts, films, performances and workshops. For the more adventurous, you can join a river boat marathon, a Thames swimming event and night kayaking. Events are spread across the city, so find one you like and join in the fun!
London Design Festival
Every September for the past 17 years, the London Design Festival has promoted the city’s creativity. With over 400 events and exhibitions, the festival draws in an estimated 580,000 people from around the world. The Victoria and Albert Museum is the official hub for the festival, and offers an extensive programme of events, talks, keynotes, daily tours and workshops. However, you’ll also find installations dotted all around the city.
Open House London
One weekend in September each year, London opens the doors of over 800 of its biggest, most renowned buildings. With the aim of making architecture accessible to everyone, you can venture in some of London’s most secretive buildings to discover hidden histories and get interior inspiration. The best part is that this event is free, but as it’s so popular, you can expect to queue. The buildings are spread across 30 London boroughs, so you’ll need to plan in advance which locations to visit.
If you live in London you can also volunteer at the open house days.
Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival
Each September, London celebrates the harvest with the Pearly Kings and Queens decked out in their dazzling costumes. The tradition dates back to the 19th century when Henry Croft, a street sweeper who went out and collected money for charity wearing a dark suit covered in pearls to attract attention. Today, people gather at Guildhall Yard to celebrate the fall harvest with traditional entertainment including Morris dancing, maypole dancing, marching bands, and a street parade. Everyone is dressed in bright pearl buttons, and it is truly an unforgettable sight.
October in London
In October, heavy rains and mist return to the capital. Having said that, there is only an average of 15 days of rainfall, so you’ll still see some dry and sunny days. Trees start to change colours around this time of year, and transform London into a vibrant red and orange palette.
London Restaurant Festival
What’s a better way to explore a city than through its food? Every October, the London Restaurant Festival returns to the city. Now in its 11th year, the festival celebrates the diverse range of restaurants that London has to offer. You can enjoy a collection of food and drink events across the city, and try out curated menus, restaurant hopping tours, movie nights and masterclasses in various cuisines. With events in over 250 bars and restaurants, you won’t run out of options for sampling the best of London’s cuisine.
BFI London Film Festival
This annual film festival runs every October for two weeks. Founded in 1957, the festival screens more than 300 films, documentaries and shorts from approximately 50 different countries. While many film professionals and actors attend the festival, it’s still a public festival, and offers opportunities for people to see films that don’t have a UK screening, or exclusive access to films that haven’t been released yet. You may have to get tickets for talks by actors, directors and filmmakers, but there are tons of free events like quiz nights, performances and documentary screenings.
While Halloween in the UK isn’t as big as it is in the US, it’s definitely growing in popularity and in cities like London, there are plenty of spooky things to do. London has quite a gory past, including Jack the Ripper, the Black Death, the Bloody Tower at the Tower of London and the London Dungeons all making the city the perfect place to spend Halloween. There are many tours and experiences you can take to discover the bloody history of the city. If you prefer a more cheerful, less scary Halloween experience then head to one of London’s many parties. The city’s pubs, bars and clubs are alive with different parties, so grab your best costume and get spooky.
November in London
November is pretty much the end of fall and you can expect cold, wet and windy weather throughout the month. If you love the festive season then good news – Christmas tends to start early in the UK, with many streets, shops and restaurants putting up lights and decorations in November. But if you’re the type of person who thinks Christmas should start in December, then don’t worry – there are still a few festivities in November to get through first.
Remember, remember the fifth of November. Each year, London commemorates the day that Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605. Huge bonfires are lit in various locations around the city, and the London sky becomes a colourful display of fireworks. You can also experience other activities like funfairs and music, plus heaps of seasonal food and drink.
Each November, London remembers the people who lost their lives in the war with various commemorative events such as concerts and church services. Remembrance Sunday is held on the second Sunday of November, where a service and parade attended by the Queen takes place. There are also events at the Imperial War Museum, where you can learn more about wars through exhibitions and collections.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
This is London’s must-visit Christmas destination. Opening in mid November, there’s no harm in getting the holiday season started early with a huge selection of festive entertainment and activities. You can skate to live music at the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, or sit back and admire the acrobatic performances at Zippos Christmas Circus. Catch spectacular views over the city from the top of the Giant Observation Wheel, or create your own ice sculpture at the Ice Sculpting workshops. For some hot food, head to the German style Bavarian village full of bratwurst, roasted nuts, waffles, Berliners and tons of other Christmas treats.
London Jazz Festival
Every November, one of the UK’s landmark music events comes to the capital. The festival brings together emerging talent with established musicians from the jazz world. Experience a mix of concerts, events and performances, from headline shows to intimate recitals. You can find events at various venues across London, from large, well-known concert halls such as the Royal Festival Hall, to smaller spaces such as the Purcell Room.
Is London Better In Spring Or In Fall? It’s hard to choose between spring or fall. London is such an amazing city with plenty of events throughout the year. Overall, the spring months are filled with a lot more outdoor events, so if you’re looking to spend time exploring the city by foot and soaking up the warm weather, then I’d recommend visiting between February and May. If you don’t mind chillier temperatures and less daylight, then fall can be a great time to visit. There are many events between September and November that’ll give you a taste of traditional British food, art and culture. Whichever season you decide to visit, you’ll be sure to find a huge selection of things to do – just remember to pack your umbrella!
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