Choosing the best time to visit the United Kingdom can be… difficult. You’ve probably heard by now, the weather in the United Kingdom is notoriously unpredictable. Not only that, but prices and tourism can soar during high seasons, so if you’re looking for a low-key trip with short wait times and diminished prices, you need to know when the low seasons are!
Then, once you’ve nailed down the best time to visit the United Kingdom, you’ll need to get started on booking flights and preparing for travel. But you won’t know what to pack or what to book until you’ve chosen dates!
That’s why I’ve put together this comprehensive guide on the best time to visit the United Kingdom!
In all honesty, the “best time” to visit the UK is totally subjective and based on your personal preferences. Obviously, tourism is high in the summer and prices tend to soar. Meanwhile, the winter months are colder and therefore cheaper. However, you’re less likely to enjoy outdoor hikes and some attractions may be closed. in this guide I’ll outline the pros and cons of each season, and what each offers. This way, you can make your best informed decision about the ideal time to visit.
Visiting in the Spring
Spring in the UK is March through May. The flowers are blooming, the weather is mild, and the countryside is bursting with life. One of the best things about visiting the UK in the spring is the abundance of festivals and events that take place during this time.
The downside to visiting the UK in the spring is that the weather can be unpredictable. It’s not uncommon to experience rain or even snow during this time. because it’s a popular time to visit, prices for flights and accommodation may be higher than other times of the year.
Spring is the best times to visit the United Kingdom for those interested in flowers, cooler weather, and lessened crowds.
Springtime Festivals and Events
- Chelsea Flower Show: This world-renowned flower show takes place annually in May in London. It features stunning displays of flowers and gardens, as well as exhibits and competitions.
- St. Patrick’s Day Festival: Held annually on March 17th, this festival celebrates Irish culture and heritage with parades, music, and dance.
- The Boat Race: This historic rowing race between Oxford and Cambridge takes place in April on the River Thames in London.
- Oxford Literary Festival: Held in March, this festival celebrates literature and features readings, book signings, and talks by famous authors.
- Bath Comedy Festival: This festival takes place in April and features stand-up comedy, improv shows, and other comedy events.
- London Marathon: This popular marathon takes place in April and attracts runners from all over the world.
- RHS Flower Show Cardiff: Held in April, this flower show in Cardiff showcases beautiful gardens and flowers.
- Hay Festival: This festival of literature and the arts takes place in May in the town of Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border.
- Bristol International Balloon Fiesta: This event takes place in August and features hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes filling the skies over Bristol.
- National Trust Properties: Spring is a great time to visit the many National Trust properties around the UK, as the gardens and countryside are in full bloom. From historic houses to beautiful gardens, the National Trust offers a wide range of properties to explore.
Visiting in the Summer
Summertime in the UK is June through August. Summer is peak tourist season in the UK. The weather is warm and sunny, and there’s an almost endless list of outdoor activities to enjoy. From hiking in the Lake District to lounging on the beaches of Cornwall, summer is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors.
The downside to visiting the UK in the summer is that it can get crowded. Popular tourist destinations like London, Edinburgh, and Bath can be overrun with tourists, making it difficult to find accommodation or book tickets to attractions. Additionally, prices for flights and accommodation tend to be higher during the summer months.
Summer is the best times to visit the United Kingdom for those looking for an authentic tourist experience. Revel in the crowds and enjoy the UK pulling out all the stops for you.
Summertime Festivals and Events
- Glastonbury Festival: One of the world’s largest music festivals, held annually in June in Somerset. It features a lineup of famous musicians, as well as other entertainment and activities.
- Wimbledon Tennis Championships: This iconic tennis tournament takes place in July in London and is the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.
- Edinburgh Fringe Festival: This festival takes place in August and features comedy, theatre, dance, music, and other performances.
- Notting Hill Carnival: This vibrant carnival takes place annually in August in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood and celebrates Caribbean culture with music, dance, and food.
- Royal Ascot: This historic horse racing event takes place annually in June in Berkshire and is famous for its elegant dress code.
- RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival: Held in July, this flower show in Surrey showcases beautiful gardens and flowers.
- Henley Royal Regatta: This famous rowing regatta takes place in July in Oxfordshire and attracts rowing teams from around the world.
- Goodwood Festival of Speed: This festival takes place in July in West Sussex and features vintage and modern cars, as well as other entertainment and activities.
- Brighton Fringe Festival: This festival takes place in May and features a wide range of performances and events, including theatre, comedy, and music.
- The Great British Beer Festival: This annual festival takes place in August in London and features over 900 different types of beer from around the world.
Visiting in Autumn
Autumn in the UK spans September through November, and is a magical time to visit the UK. The leaves are changing colors, the weather is crisp, and there’s excitement in the air as the country prepares for the holiday season. One of the best things about visiting the UK in the autumn is the abundance of seasonal activities and events. From apple picking to pumpkin carving, there’s always something fun to do.
The downside to visiting the UK in the autumn is that the weather can fluctuate between warmer temperatures and colder ones on the daily. And like with spring, the prices can waver a bit higher closer to peak season (summer).
- Personal Experience: When I spent 5 weeks in the UK, I was there the last week of August through the end of September! While the flight was a little pricy because I came in at the end of peak summer, the crowds had really died off. Now, I was over there during the death of Queen Elizabeth II, so the crowds got huge at the end of the month during the funeral processions. But otherwise, attractions were easy to get into with little to no wait times, the weather was absolutely perfect for either jeans or shorts! There was also rarely any rain during those 5 weeks. This, to me, is the ideal season to go to the UK!
Autumnal Festivals and Events
- Halloween events: Many attractions throughout the UK offer Halloween-themed events, such as haunted houses, spooky tours, and pumpkin festivals.
- Bonfire Night: Also known as Guy Fawkes Night, this event takes place annually on November 5th and features fireworks and bonfires to commemorate the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
- Manchester Literature Festival: This festival takes place in October and features readings, book signings, and talks by famous authors.
- The Great Bath Feast: This food festival takes place annually in October in the city of Bath and features local food and drink, as well as cooking demonstrations and other events.
- The British Film Festival: Held annually in October in London, this festival showcases the best of British cinema.
- The Knitting and Stitching Show: This event takes place annually in October and November in several locations across the UK. It features exhibitions and workshops for knitting and stitching enthusiasts.
- The Oxford Lieder Festival: This festival takes place annually in October. It celebrates the art of song, featuring performances by world-renowned singers and musicians.
- The National Fruit Show: This festival takes place annually in October in Kent. It celebrates the best of British fruit, including apples, pears, and cherries.
- The London Jazz Festival: Held annually in November, this festival features jazz performances by musicians from around the world.
- The York Food and Drink Festival: This festival takes place annually in September and October in the city of York. It features local food and drink, cooking demonstrations, and other events.
Visiting in the Winter
Winter in the UK is December through February. The country transforms into a winter wonderland with Christmas lights and decorations adorning the streets. There are plenty of seasonal activities to enjoy, from ice skating to Christmas markets. Make sure to check out this guide to Christmas in London if you’re looking for a holiday in the city!
The downside to visiting the UK in the winter is that the weather can be quite cold and rainy. Additionally, many tourist attractions and restaurants may be closed or have reduced hours during the winter months. Prices tend to be lower during the winter, so it can be a good time to visit on a budget.
Winter is the best times to visit the United Kingdom for those looking for an epic winter getaway! It’s also the best time to budget travel!
Wintertime Festivals and Events
- Winter Wonderland: This annual event takes place in Hyde Park, London, from November to January. It features an ice rink, Christmas markets, and fairground rides.
- Bath Christmas Market: This festive market takes place annually in the city of Bath. It features over 150 stalls selling unique gifts and local food and drink.
- Hogmanay: This Scottish celebration of New Year’s Eve takes place annually in Edinburgh. It features fireworks, live music, and a torchlight procession.
- The Nutcracker Ballet: This classic ballet is often performed during the Christmas season in theaters across the UK.
- Winter Lights Festival: This festival takes place annually in Canary Wharf, London, and features spectacular light installations and immersive experiences.
- Edinburgh’s Christmas: This festive event takes place annually in Edinburgh and features Christmas markets, ice skating, and other attractions.
- Kew Gardens Christmas Lights: This annual event takes place in Kew Gardens, London. It features a trail of festive lights and installations throughout the gardens.
- Ice Skating: Many cities in the UK offer outdoor ice skating rinks during the winter season. This includes the Somerset House Ice Rink in London and the Ice Factor in Glasgow.
- Christmas Pantomimes: These traditional family-friendly shows are often performed in theaters across the UK during the Christmas season.
- The London New Year’s Day Parade: This parade takes place annually on January 1st. It features marching bands, floats, and performers from around the world.
In conclusion, the UK offers a range of events, festivals, and offerings throughout the year. From the vibrant energy of summer festivals to the cozy charm of winter markets, each season has something unique to offer.
So, what is the best time to travel to the UK? It really depends on your interests, budget, and travel preferences. Are you looking for warm weather and outdoor activities? Or do you prefer the festive atmosphere of Christmas markets and winter events? Whatever your choice, the UK is sure to offer a memorable experience.
Have you visited the UK before? If so, what was your favorite time of year to visit? And if you haven’t yet visited, which season are you most interested in experiencing?
Let’s chat and plan your next adventure to this beautiful country!