Best Time to Visit England

Big Ben in London

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There's no bad time to experience England, especially since the country has such a diversity of destinations, from cities to beaches to scenic countryside. England boasts moderate weather year-around (and far less rain than you might expect), and even in damp weather, there's always something to see and do. Still, there are better times of the year to visit England, bearing in mind crowds and popular events. To avoid big groups of tourists and to take advantage of the nicest weather, the best times to visit England are in the spring, from April to May, and in the fall, from September through November.

Weather in England

While England is notorious for its rainy weather, there are actually far fewer rainy days than people assume. Summers in England can be quite hot, especially in the southern parts of the country, and the winters are usually moderate, even in the more northern regions.

During the summer, the average temperature in England is 60 F (15 C), although London and the surrounding areas can go as high as 90 F (32 C), usually in August and September. The summer heat is more bearable in coastal areas, which get nice breezes, but in the cities, the high temperatures can be challenging, especially since most public transportation lacks air conditioning. The south coast tends to get more sunshine than mountainous areas like the Lake District, which is the wettest part of England.

The winter brings an average temperature of 40 F (15 C) and some light snow can be expected throughout the country. Winters are typically cloudy and wet, and travelers should pack accordingly. Expect windy and rainy conditions during the winter when visiting northern regions, especially along the coast. Don't let the colder, damper weather deter you though; winter is a great time to come to England thanks to smaller crowds and lower rates.

Spring lasts from March to May and often brings some rain, although there are usually sunny days as well. Early spring tends to be quite cold, especially in the north, and a trip in March or April can be chilly. May is a great time of year to visit England as many flowers and trees are blooming and the weather is typically nice, especially on the coast.

Fall, which lasts from September to November, is another great time of year to visit England. The weather does cool down, but September and October can bring heat waves, especially in the south.

extremely crowded Brighton Beach in England
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Crowds and Peak Season in England

Summer is the peak season for travel to England, although you can expect lots of visitors in the spring and early fall as well. The Christmas and New Year holiday period is also very busy, especially in London. Spring and Fall can be the best times to come if you want to avoid larger tourist crowds and high season hotel rates.

The crowds in England can depend on what part of the country you want to visit and what events are happening at the time. During the summertime, seaside towns like Brighton or Whitby can be crowded, particularly on the weekends or over bank holidays. Areas like the Cotswolds, Cornwall, and the Lake District also attract a lot of visitors during warmer weather. Smaller towns and more remote areas tend to have fewer accommodations, so it's best to book in advance when traveling during busy periods.

British school holidays can also bring crowds. School holidays occur during summer, from July through September, and at half term, which take place the end of October and in mid-February. Schools are off around the Christmas and Easter holidays as well. Many families elect to travel around the country to tourist spots during these periods, so it can be best to schedule your trip when kids are in school.

January

While you will need to pack a winter coat and an umbrella, January can be a great time to explore England, especially if you want to take advantage of travel deals at country hotels and on various train lines.

Events to check out:

  • The annual New Year's Day Parade takes place in London on Jan. 1, with celebrations taking over Oxford Circus and Piccadilly.
  • Manchester hosts the Beer and Cider Festival every year in late January. The multiple-day event showcases hundreds of British brews, with children allowed until 7 p.m. daily.
  • Burns Night, an homage to Scottish poet Robert Burns, takes place Jan. 25. It's celebrated throughout the U.K. with Scottish-themed food and drink served at many pubs and some restaurants.

February

February can mean some crowds thanks to schools' half term, but coastal towns and country villages tend to be lesser crowded, especially if you're traveling without kids.

Events to check out:

  • London celebrates Chinese New Year in Chinatown with a festive parade and a lively street fair. The dates vary based on the Chinese calendar.
  • Portsmouth showcases its literary heritage at BookFest in mid-February. The festival features readings from authors, events and celebrations.
  • York is home to the annual JORVIK Viking Festival, the largest viking event in Europe, which draws thousands to its reenactments, marketplaces and talks.

March

Spring starts to come to England in March, which means picturesque scenery throughout the countryside and in the national parks.

Events to check out:

  • St. Patrick's Day brings out the fervor around England as well as Ireland, with celebrations taking place in pubs around the country. There is also the London St. Patrick's Day Festival in Trafalgar Square, which usually takes place on the weekend closest to St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Poetry fans can discover the Words By the Water Festival in the Lake District in early March. The 10-day festival features literary events, readings and discussions.
  • Mother’s Day arrives in March in England (the date can vary) and visitors will find mom-themed events around the country, including special afternoon teas and set menus at restaurants.

April

April is an ideal time to visit England thanks to a plethora of events around the country and many tourist spots starting to get going for the season. Look out for Easter travelers, who can bring crowds during the two-week school holiday.

Events to check out:

  • The Harrogate Flower Show kicks off spring with massive floral displays, crafts, and cooking demonstrations over a weekend every year in April.
  • Watch for the London Marathon on a Sunday in April. It usually means big crowds and lots of road closures around the city.
  • Head to the home of Shakespeare for the week-long Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival. It's one of the U.K.'s most significant literary festivals and includes events and activities for visitors of all ages.
three sheep on the road in the English countryside
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May

May brings flowers, sunshine, and crowded beaches to England, making it the start of peak tourist season, especially along the coast. There are two bank holiday weekends in May, so be sure to book accommodation in advance or look for less busy destinations.

Events to check out:

  • In London, the iconic Chelsea Flower Show is a five-day celebration of flowers and plants and is held in the upscale neighborhood of Chelsea.
  • The Great Escape is a popular music festival that takes of Brighton for several days each May. It always features well-known musical acts, as well as up-and-comers, and means big crowds for Brighton and Hove during that weekend.
  • If you love seafood, look for Devon's Salcombe Crab Festival, a one-day event each May. The festival celebrates the local coastal catch, with lots to eat, drink and do.

June

June is a busy month for travel in England, boasting nice weather and lots of events around the country. It's a particularly good time to decamp from the cities to enjoy the famous English countryside or to experience the hikes in the Lake District.

Events to check out:

  • The Queen's annual birthday parade, Trooping the Colour, takes place at Buckingham Palace in June and includes an appearance by Her Majesty herself. Be sure to buy tickets in advance (or just watch it live on the BBC).
  • The famous tennis tournament Wimbledon kicks off in late June and lasts for two weeks, with tickets available for members of the public.
  • England's Pride celebrations take over the country in June, with a massive parade in London. Other cities follow suit later in the summer, with Brighton's popular festivities taking place in August.
  • The Royal Ascot, usually held in mid-to-late June, is a high-class horse race attended by well-dressed Brits and the queen in the Berkshire town of Ascot.

July

July tends to be one of the most busy months in England, as well as one of the hottest. Cities like London will be very crowded with international tourists, and holiday destinations like York and Brighton are likely to be packed as well. It's a great month for outdoorsy travelers, who can take advantage of the long daylight and sunny weather to go hiking or cycling.

Events to check out:

  • Head to Whitstable to experience the famed Whitstable Oyster Festival, which serves food and live music to a discerning crowd.
  • Fan lovers fill the muddy fields at Glastonbury, a five-day music festival that is one of the world's most popular. Held in Somerset, the event usually sells out almost immediately.
  • A more family-friendly festival can be found in Suffolk at Latitude Festival, which features music, yoga, theater, comedy, and activities for kids.

August

Like June and July, August is usually very popular for international travelers, particularly in seaside locations. There's a bank holiday each August, which can mean crowds, so book ahead.

Events to check out:

  • London's Notting Hill Carnival is one of Europe’s largest street parties, held over the Summer Bank Holiday weekend.
  • Liverpool is all about the Beatles during International Beatleweek, held in the historic Cavern Club.
  • Reading and Leeds is one of England's biggest music festivals, taking place over a weekend at the end of August. The event, which is technically two separate festivals in two different cities, boasts some of the biggest artists out there.
english countryside village on a cloudy day
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September

September usually features nice weather and less crowds, so it's a great time to explore destinations around England, especially more remote areas. Enjoy beaches and country villages without the throngs of tourists, or embrace the city life of London or Manchester.

Events to check out:

  • Bath hosts the annual Jane Austen Festival, which honors all things Jane Austen, in September. It's a massive undertaking, with events held over 10 days.
  • Outdoorsy travelers will enjoy the Yorkshire Wolds Walking and Outdoors Festival, a 10-day event with a variety of activities from hiking to cycling to horseback riding. It's open to families and those of all fitness levels.

October

The weather begins to cool down in October, but so do the number of tourists, so travelers can make the most of typically busy destinations.

Events to check out:

  • The prestigious BFI London Film Festival brings a vast selections of international films every year for 10 days in October. Many of the screenings, events, and even film premieres welcome the public.
  • Enjoy the 700-year-old Hull Fair, known as England's largest traveling fair. It's a true spectacle, with rides, games, food, and live events.
  • Oktoberfest is a German invention, but England celebrates the annual festival as well. Look for Oktoberfest events in London, Manchester, Bristol, and Kent throughout October.

November

Because the U.K. doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, November can be a great time to take advantage of smaller crowds in England. While you may need a coat and an umbrella, there's still a lot to see and do around the country, especially as the Christmas season kicks off.

Events to check out:

  • Bonfire Night, which is also known as Guy Fawkes Day, is celebrated on Nov. 5 throughout the U.K. It commemorates Guy Fawkes’ failure to blow up the House of Parliament, which all of England remembers with firework shows, bonfires and lots of drinking.
  • Many Christmas festivities kick off in England in November (the British love Christmas), so look for tree lighting ceremonies, Christmas markets, and theater events throughout the country towards the end of the month. London features tons of celebrations to illuminate the various lighting displays as well.

December

England is obsessed with Christmas, so a visit in December means vibrant decorations and massive shopping crowds. Skip the packed streets of London and head to lesser-visited areas to make the most of your trip. Many English country hotels also offer specials and package deals around Christmas stays.

Events to check out:

  • Find your Christmas spirit at the Grassington Dickensian Festival in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It features Victorian reenactments, performances and a Santa procession.
  • London's Hyde Park gets taken over by Winter Wonderland each year in December (it sometimes kicks off as early as November). The fair has rides, market stalls, ice skating, and a lot of activities for the whole family.
  • On New Year’s Eve, London puts on a big fireworks show on the River Thames with music and festivities. It's the biggest celebration in England, but many other towns and cities host their own parties and fireworks shows.
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