October in London: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

It's cool and might rain

Autumn in Little Venice, London, UK
Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

Like much of the rest of the year, the weather in London in October tends to be cool, overcast, and sometimes wet. Afternoon temperatures hover around 60 F, and yes, it is going to rain. 

But travelers to London aren't visiting to soak up the sun, and there's plenty to keep them entertained. So pack some layers and rain gear as you explore all there is to see and do in London during October. 

London Weather in October

There's not much difference in average daily highs and low temperatures in London in October. Afternoons top out around 60 F, with the temperature falling to around 50 F at night. At the beginning of the month, highs might reach into the mid-60s F but expect highs in only the mid-50s F by the end of the month.

It rains an average of 10 days during October, so your chances of getting hit with some wet stuff are relatively high. When it's not raining, expect lots of clouds; it's overcast or mostly cloudy a little more than half the time.

Since it's fall, the sun is moving away from the Northern Hemisphere, and as October progresses, the days get shorter in London, with the last day of the month having only nine hours and 43 minutes of daylight. British Summer Time (BST) ends on the last Sunday in October, and clocks go back one hour, just like in the United States.

What to Pack

You won't need to put a heavy coat, gloves, or warm hats and scarves in your London suitcase in October. But in October, as in every month of the year in London, you'll need an umbrella, plus a raincoat or trenchcoat. Bring clothes that you can layer, like long-sleeved tops or shirts; cotton or light wool sweaters; and a medium-weight topper, like a wool blazer or leather jacket. If it gets chilly, you can top all this with your trenchcoat.

Bring jeans or medium-weight pants for the daytime. Women might like to bring a skirt outfit or two for dining out or nights at the theater, and men should have a sports jacket, pants, and tie, or a suit and tie for evenings out.

You'll be doing a lot of walking in London, whether your interest is shopping, history, architecture, or museums, so bring well-broken-in, closed-toe shoes. Ankle boots are an excellent choice for these temperatures, and they keep your feet dry if it rains. Take appropriate shoes for your dressier clothing, but be aware of how comfortable they are since evenings out might also involve significant walking.

October Events in London

Film festivals, Poetry Day, Chocolate Week, harvest festivals, and a patriotic parade mark the October special events calendar in London.

  • British Film Institute London Film Festival: Held annually in mid-October since 1953. This massive festival shows hundreds of movies, documentaries, and short films from more than four dozen countries.
  • Pearly Kings & Queens Harvest Festival: The festival is held in late September or early October. This festival celebrates the tradition of London's pearly families, a charitable organization that began in the 19th century when people adorned outfits with pearl buttons to attract attention when raising money. 
  • Raindance Film Festival: This occurs in late September or early October. This event celebrates independent films in various locations across London.
  • London Restaurant Festival: Get ready for some great eats at this city-wide celebration of eating out that goes on the entire month of October. Several hundred restaurants participate in restaurant-hopping tours, chef-hosted events, and gastronomic weekends.
  • October Plenty on Bankside: This annual autumn harvest festival brings together ancient customs, theater, and plenty of contemporary events. 
  • National Poetry Day: Takes place all over the United Kingdom every October. It celebrates poetry and its power to bridge differences and make people feel connected.
  • Chocolate Week: A week-long event in mid-October of full-on decadence. It is the U.K.'s biggest chocolate event and features tastings, demonstrations, and workshops. It culminates in The Chocolate Show at London Olympia. 
  • Frieze Art Fair: Contemporary pieces from more than 160 leading galleries throughout the world are featured at this annual art fair in Regent's Park. 
  • Trafalgar Day Parade: Held on the Sunday closest to Oct. 21, this event in Trafalgar Square marks the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It features a series of events and a Sunday parade that sees more than 400 Sea Cadets from across the U.K. march on behalf of the Royal Navy.

October Travel Tips

Traveling to London in October means you'll encounter fewer crowds than during the high summer travel season. You might be able to snag a hotel room at a slightly lower rate and better plane fares. But don't let your guard down regarding the need for reservations.

  • Theater season is in high gear in October, and since London's West End is world-famous and on many visitors' and locals' must-do lists, book theater tickets as far in advance as possible.
  • Book hotel rooms as soon as you know your travel dates so you can nail down any shoulder season rates before they begin to fill up, with the result that prices will go up.
  • If you want to eat at a special restaurant that is in high demand from locals or in the theater district, book early.
  • Plan your priorities with an eye to the weather; expect that you will have to spend several days or parts of days indoors at museums or historical sites to be sheltered from the rain. 
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