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When to visit the UK

From the fresh blossoms of spring to cosy winter evenings, the United Kingdom beckons visitors with an array of experiences that change with the seasons.

While the UK is so diverse that it could be visited at any time of year, there are seasonal highlights. The grey period between Christmas and Easter is a time to stay indoors and break every New Year's resolution, while the social time just after summer is spent making the most of the last warm rays of sunshine.

In April and May, Bluebells engulf the ground in ancient woodlands and cherry blossom covers the trees of grand estates and stately homes. Wildlife emerges from winter hiding spots and birdsong can be heard in every village and country park. Spring is the best time to visit the UK for nature, but autumn is the best time to visit for culture.

The six-week summer school-holidays (also known as peak season from mid-July to the end of August) sees the hottest weather, but is also the most crowded and expensive along with many of the UK’s bank holidays (public holidays).

Travelling in May and June is a great time to see the spring flowers and trees blossoming, while September and October are best for harvest festivals, warm evenings, and to see the leaves changing colour.

Seasonal changes in the UK

After the hibernation-like period of January to March, the UK erupts with spring flowers around Easter. St Patrick's Day reignites the UK with a bang in March. Accommodation prices start to rise around bank holidays (public holidays), but remain affordable during the week.

Outdoors activities like paddleboarding, canyoning, and kayaking are popular throughout the spring and summer in places like the Lake District and Cornwall. But beauty spots fill up fast in the summer holidays. The narrow roads of the coast, as well as favourites like the Cotswolds, can easily become congested - especially on weekends. Avoid high accommodation costs by staying a short drive away from the main attractions, and explore by bus where possible.

Summer, though the busiest time to visit, opens up opportunities to take a peek inside royal residences, see iconic parks and gardens like Kew at their best, and visit regular street markets and events in places like London and Brighton. With September comes lower prices as the staycationers go back to work, but warm summer evenings continue with garden barbecues and drinks outside of pubs.

November and December sees a hive of activity on the British social calendar, with events like Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas gatherings, and Hogmanay. The UK’s biggest adventure festival takes place in Kendal in November, and many music and speaking events keep people entertained through the dark evenings.

Hiking can be enjoyed year round in remote spots like the Scottish Highlands and Snowdonia, but some higher routes might be inaccessible due to snow in winter. Travel in general can see some disruption due to bad weather and storms, and ferry crossings can be made difficult by rough seas.

Weather and climate in the UK

The weather is generally quite mild in the UK, if a little wet at times. Cities stay a couple of degrees warmer than the countryside, while the west coast sees some of the strongest winds from the North Atlantic. Maximum temperatures average around 23°C in August, while minimum temperatures regularly drop just below 0°C in January.

Although snow is still relatively novel in much of the UK, Scotland regularly sees snowfall with the coldest temperatures in the region. A cold winter will bring beautiful frozen landscapes that are a photographer's dream, but the limited daylight hours can make travel difficult at this time of year.

December to February can see some of the wettest weather, especially in the more northern places, but the rumours are true; rain can be expected anywhere in the UK at any time of year. The southeast of England is the driest region, while more mountainous areas like Snowdonia and the Lake District see more regular downpours.

For camping in the Western Highlands or Northumberland (Hadrians Wall), avoid staying near open water sources in ‘midge season’ (May to September). Areas with higher winds see less of these mosquito like creatures, so plan to get to higher ground if travelling in summer.

The southwest of England claims some of the best sunshine in the UK with warm weather fronts coming in from the Gulf Stream. While much of the south shares the same mild weather systems as continental Europe.

Festivals and events in the UK

  • The Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling is one of the UK’s most bizarre events. Taking place annually on the last Monday in May, competitors race down a steep hill to catch a giant wheel of cheese.

  • Another unusual celebration is the bi-annual goth festival that takes over the seaside town of Whitby in Yorkshire. Home to the ruins of Whitby Abbey, it’s where Bram Stoker found inspiration for his Dracula. The festival is usually held in April and October each ear.

  • For literary fans, the Dickensian festival sees a small Lake District town come alive with Victorian costumes and characters. Visit just before Christmas each year - mulled wine is obligatory.

  • Records of Morris dancing date back to the 15th century, and nowadays the traditional folk dance around the Maypole can be seen all over the UK. Traditionally events are held at dawn on May Day.

  • One of the UK’s biggest events started out costing just £1 in 1970. Tickets back then included free milk from the hosting farm in Somerset. Glastonbury now sees headliners like Sir Paul Mcartney and Stormzy, and is a rite of passage for music fans around the globe. The festival is usually held in June.

Planning a trip to the UK? Read our UK travel guides

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Jo Williams

Author - Jo Williams

Jo Williams is a freelance writer with 10 years' experience working in travel and tourism. A Brit who got fed up with the 9 to 5 corporate life, she sold everything to become a full-time wanderer.

Jo has travelled to over 70 countries and worked throughout Europe for a major tour operator. She hopes to inspire you to work less and travel more.

Last Updated 7 February 2024

Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, UK

United Kingdom

Encompassing England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Island, the United Kingdom has a long and interesting history, several cosmopolitan cities and a range of enchanting landscapes.