London, a city of aspirations, is a place that is sure to find its way into everyone’s travel bucket list. This city has an abundance of impressive antiquity. The buildings in London such as Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the Tower of London are fantastic milestones of an intriguing biography. Innovation reaches a compelling height in this city, as is evident from the Shard, the Sky Garden, and the Tate Modern extension. However, London manages to retain its narrative belonging to centuries ago.
The splendour of architecture can be witnessed at every corner while enticing pubs dot the historic quarters, riverbanks, and suburbs. The art and culture of London bring forth ideas and imagination. The creative milieu of the city has been enhanced with a left-field attitude, irrespective of whether it is modern art, theatrical innovation, inspiring music, writing, architecture, design, or poetry. For every exciting activity, there is to do in the city, the best time to visit London must be taken into account. Here, we provide a detailed description of the most appropriate times to do so.
Did you know?
The first to make London home were the Romans.
Best time to visit London for activities
1. Best time to book hotels
As London is a year-round destination and is busy most of the time, booking hotels here can be a task. The best London hotels for you and your family tend to be packed for most of the year. It is highly recommended that you make your bookings for four to six months in advance.
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2. Best time to visit London for touring the royal sites
To witness the grandeur of everything royal in the city, summer is the best time to visit London. This is because most of the occupants go away during the summer holidays and many residences are open to the public only during this time. The best months to visit London to witness The State Rooms of the Buckingham Palace are through late July and September. Kew Palace remains shut during the winter months so that would not be the best time to visit London for sightseeing.
The best month to visit London for the Clarence House, which is the home of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, in August because this is the only time when it is open to the public. August is, in fact, the only time when all the highlight sites can be toured. The Changing of the Guard at the Buckingham Palace can be seen every day from April to July. It can also be seen on alternate days during the rest of the year if permitted by the weather.
If you wish to view the pomp and pageantry of Trooping the Color – the parade for the Queen’s Birthday and annual regimental review, June would be the best time to go to London. This month is also when you get a chance to hobnob at the Royal Ascot with the aristocratic crowd.
Did you know?
London was the most frequented city in the world in 2014.
3. Best time to visit London for shopping
The best time to visit London for shopping is between late June and early July. Most of the best sales in London, including Harrod’s super popular summer sale occurs during these months. December is the London peak season when the shops are the busiest and obtain most of their revenue. A festive atmosphere envelops the streets, but many bargains do not happen.
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The sales in January after Christmas, coupled with the lull in tourism could bring up savings across the board in airfare, hotel rates, and shopping. If you are on the lookout for fantastic deals all around the year, you can head to the north of London to Bicester Village. Here, you will find the luxury outlet centre where Kate Middleton is said to shop!
4. Best time to visit London for the theatre and shows
During January and February, when it is not the London peak season, it is easy to come by with tickets to the West End Shows. Many of them can be found at great discounts during this time through the yearly Get Into London Theatre (GILT) promotion. August becomes a bit of a mixed bag when families that go to the theatre can avail free children’s tickets during the famous London Theatre’s Kids Week. However, several smaller shows and comedy acts get packed up in this month and get sent north for the yearly Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In addition to the new acts from The Fringe, these shows will be brought back to welcome the new theatre season in September.
5. Best time to visit London for kids and families
A great place to visit with kids and family, London is surprisingly affordable as there are several free museums and galleries. Getting around in this city is also inexpensive and easy. Children under the age of 11 can have free travels on the buses and the Tube. The London Theatre’s Kids Week that happens in August makes it the best season to visit London from India for kids and families. During this week, for many of the top West End Shows, a free ticket will be given to the child every time there is a purchase of an adult ticket. This includes backstage tours, workshops, and Q and As with actors to amuse the thespians.
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It is recommended that you plan early because the Kids Week tickets go up on sale in June and the famous shows get sold out quickly. The warm weather of summer is perfect if you want to burn off excess energy in the parks and playgrounds of London. You can expect family-friendly attractions to be packed when the schools have holidays, not only during summer but Christmas and Easter as well. You can expect the same during half term breaks that happen during February, May, and October.
If you and your family can travel during the spring or fall, you will reach the sweet spot where the weather seems pleasant, and the prices are not soaring high. The Christmas charm of London can be truly fascinating for a little child, but the seasonal crowds could be challenging to manage with kids and strollers.
6. Best time to visit London for museums and galleries
The best season to visit London from India for museums and galleries is during January and February. These are the months when there is a dip in tourism. These sites will not be empty. However, you will not have to face the trouble of long lines and huge crowds. It is also surprising that museums and galleries in London are quite empty in the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
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You can expect family-friendly sites such as the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, and London Transport Museum to be very busy when children are out of school for summer, during important holidays, and during the half-term breaks in February, May, and October. It is necessary to note that several museums and galleries have later visiting hours at least once a week. For all the night owls, this offer is perfect as they can have the chance of making a quiet visit when the large daytime crowds have gone.
7. Best time to visit London for Christmas activities
Christmas arrives early into London giving you plenty of opportunities to bask in the festivities of the season. By the middle of November, several store displays, holiday markets, and skating rinks are energetic and exuberant for business. During the first week of December, the grand tree in Trafalgar Square gets lit up. Throughout December until early January, Christmas plays and pantomime performances can be witnessed.
Several museums and attractions remain closed between the 24th and 26th of December. Even public transportation gets shut down on the day of Christmas. If you wish to go sightseeing, you should plan your travel before or after this period. Boxing Day sales, the cheapest time to visit London, attracts huge crowds to the shops during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Museums and galleries are relatively quiet during this time. Lights, displays, and markets are energetic until early January.
Did you know?
Over 300 languages are spoken in London!
8. Best time to visit London according to seasons
High season (between May and the middle of September, December):
London, during the late spring and summer months, is filled with tourists. These months have warm weather and schools have holidays, making it the best time to visit London. December sees a rush of tourists who wish to shop and engage in seasonal activities. You can expect long queues, booked hotels, and high airline prices during these times. To cut down on costs and ensure that you do not miss out on any experiences, make flight bookings, purchase show tickets, and get hotel and dinner reservations done well in advance.
Shoulder season (between the middle of September and November, between March and April):
The mild spring and fall weather of the city attracts many tourists and form the best time to visit London, but the city does not get overrun as it does in the summer. It is relatively easy to obtain theatre and hotel reservations. The prices of flights also shift from expensive to reasonable. It must be noted that the weather can be very variable during these months. It is recommended that an umbrella and layered clothing is carried.
Low season (between January and February):
During January and February, you can notice that temperatures and heavy rains prevail in the city. If you do not mind the dampness and coldness, several great deals on flight prices and hotel rates can be availed. Being the off-season, it is the cheapest time to visit London. A significant decrease in tourism can be noticed during these months. You will not have to stand in long queues and be amidst large crowds. Ensure that you pack an umbrella and warm clothes.
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Did you know?
A great way to get around London is through the efficient underground rail system.
9. Best time to visit London for events and festivals
Events in January
- New Year’s Day Parade – this is a grand American-style street parade that happens from Piccadilly to Parliament Square during noontime on the 1st of January.
- International Mime Festival – A celebration of performance art and circus, puppetry, and shadow play at different venues throughout central London.
- Get Into London Theatre (GILT) Promotion – You can avail discounted tickets for over 65 top London shows for January and February. Tickets begin to go to sale in December.
Events in February
- Celebration of Chinese New Year – Outside of Asia, the largest one happens in London with lion dances, a parade across the West End, and cultural entertainment in Chinatown, Trafalgar Square, and Shaftesbury Avenue.
- London Fashion Week – The fashion industry comes together in central London on Somerset House, where the finest designers in the world show their fall collections in a week filled with invitation-only exhibitions and parties.
Events in March
- BFI Flare: LGBT Film Festival – Portraying over 50 critically acclaimed international films at BFI Southbank, the British Film Institute celebrates queer cinema.
- The University Boat Race – To view the annual boat race that happens between the Oxford and Cambridge universities, 2,50,000 spectators line the banks of the Thames from Putney to the Chiswick Bridge.
Events in April
- London Marathon – Traffic snarls and onlookers, encourage 36,000 runners as they trek along the Thames from Greenwich/Blackheath to the Mall in St. James Park.
Events in May
- Chelsea Flower Show – London Fashion Week’s horticultural equivalent is the Chelsea Flower Show where there is a fantastic display of botanical exhibits and gardens. Over 1,57,000 visitors can be seen on the grounds of Chelsea’s Royal Hospital.
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Events in June
- Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – Burlington House in Piccadilly showcases artwork from emerging and honoured artists during the largest open-submission art exhibition of the world.
- Trooping the Color – The Queen inspects her troops and takes them down The Mall from the Parade at House Guard to Buckingham Palace in her yearly birthday march.
- Royal Ascot – This is the crème de la crème of British horseracing events where both royals and riffraff dress up, have champagne and ride ponies.
- Taste of London – During this event, you can sample the wares from a few of the best restaurants and watch cooking demonstrations. This is a trendy food and wine festival that happens in Regents Park.
- Open Garden Squares Weekend – About 300 of the most secret and magnificent gardens are made open to the public for one weekend only.
Events in July
- BBC Proms – This eight week festival of orchestral music sees a packed Albert Hall with fans of classical music. Daily concerts happen here, and £5 tickets are given out for those “prommers” who are ready to forego a seat.
- Pride in London – Celebrating all things LGBT, this weeklong event has a huge parade throughout central London. The party happens in Trafalgar Square and the after-party is celebrated at Soho.
Events in August
- Notting Hill Carnival – A two-day Caribbean party energised with live music, food, stunning floats and costumes, and over a million revellers, this is the biggest street festival in Europe. It happens during the August Bank Holiday weekend in West London.
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Events in September
- Totally Thames – This is the Mayor’s Thames Festival which is a month-long celebration of art and culture with vibrant regattas, community events, river races.
- Open House London – A weekend of fabulous architecture and design, about hundreds of generally off-limit historic buildings become open for public touring.
Events in October
- Frieze Fair – Two huge art fairs happen in Regents Park, where one can browse through or purchase the works of renowned and emerging artists. Contemporary works are found in Frieze London while the ancient through mid-century works can be found in Frieze Masters.
- Dance Umbrella – This two-weeklong international dance festival celebrates choreography of the 21st century from all over the world at several venues in London.
- Diwali on the Square – Trafalgar Square becomes packed to celebrate the festival of lights. Live music, dance, food, and market stalls make this a one-of-a-kind experience.
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Events in November
- Guy Fawkes Night/Bonfire Night – This is the yearly remembrance of the Gunpowder Plot that happened in 1605 with fireworks and bonfires. Battersea Park and Alexandra palace have the most vibrant displays.
- EFG London Jazz Festival – This is a ten-day event that celebrates vocal and instrumental jazz music. It features hundreds of British and international acts at various London venues.
- Winter Wonderland – This event lets you get into the Christmas spirit with drinks, festive food, circus shows, ice skating, fairground rides, and Santa Claus.
Events in December
- Christmas Markets – These seasonal markets have food lover gifts and handcrafted items throughout London.
- Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree – This is a huge 20 metre Norway spruce. It forms an iconic backdrop for Christmas festivities and carolling.
- New Year’s Eve Fireworks – You will find tens of thousands of spectators come together on the banks of the Thames to witness this magnificent display of fireworks near the London Eye. Ensure that you purchase the tickets well in advance.
Did you know?
It is expected of you to tip the hospitality staff and cab drivers.
Now, you can decide which would be the best time to visit London according to your preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is the cheapest month to travel to London?
A: January and February, and September to October are the cheapest months to travel to London.
2. Is London dangerous at night?
A: No, London is generally safe throughout the day and night.
3. What is the rainiest month in London?
A: The rainiest month in London is October.
4. How many days do you need in London?
A: A minimum of 3 – 4 days is needed in London.
5. What is the best time of year to go to London and Paris?
A: Between the middle of May and September, and December is the best time of the year to go to London and Paris.
6. What should I know before visiting London?
A: Before visiting London, you must know that travelling by bus is cheap and you must also download the City Mapper App for easy navigation.