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

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

Like much of the rest of the year, the London weather in October tends to be cool, overcast, and sometimes wet. Though most travelers don't expect a lot of sunshine on an October trip to London, there's still plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained beyond the main tourist attractions. But before you explore all there is see and do, don't forget to pack some layers and your rain gear.

The major upside to traveling to London in October is that you'll encounter fewer crowds than during the high summer travel season. You might also be able to snag a hotel room at a slightly lower rate and find better plane fares, but you should still make your reservations well in advance instead of waiting until the last minute. With that said, here's what to expect on your October trip to London.

London Weather in October

London's average high temperatures during October top out at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) in the afternoon and fall to approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) at night. If you're visiting at the beginning of the month, temperatures may get as high as 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius). But by the end of the month, it probably won't get warmer than 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius), if you're lucky.

It rains an average of 10 days during October, so there's a high chance that you'll experience London's typically damp fall weather. Even when it's not raining, you can expect it to be overcast and cloudy more than half the time. You'll notice the days getting shorter as the month goes on and by Oct. 31, the sun will set before 5 p.m. If chilly, short days would ruin a trip for you, time the visit closer to the beginning of the month when days are warmer and there are more daylight hours—though there's no guarantee that you'll be able to see the sun.

What to Pack

You don't need to bring your heavy coat and gloves just yet, but you will need an umbrella and a good raincoat. Temperatures can fluctuate, so pack outfits that can be layered with long-sleeved shirts and light sweaters. A medium-weight denim or leather jacket under your raincoat or trench coat will also help you stay warm on particularly damp and cold days. London isn't a particularly formal city but if you plan on going out to a nice restaurant or the theater, a set of nice formal clothes will come in handy.

London is a very pedestrian-friendly city, so bring a pair of comfortable closed-toed shoes if you plan to do a lot of walking. Ankle boots are particularly nice for fall weather in London since they will keep your feet dry and can sometimes work with a more formal outfit.

If you happen to forget an umbrella or didn't bring enough layers, there are more than enough shops to fill any wardrobe gaps.

October Events in London

As a major city, there's always something happening in London and with the fall weather, October also brings many exciting events from film and harvest festivals to special celebrations of poetry and art. Here are some noteworthy events to check out, but this is nowhere near an exhaustive list.

  • British Film Institute London Film Festival: Held annually in October since 1953, this massive festival shows hundreds of movies, documentaries, and short films from more than four dozen countries. If you're unable to make the festival in person, a selection of the best films screened during the festival will be streamed online on the BFI Player after the main festival ends
  • Pearly Kings & Queens Harvest Festival: The festival is typically held in late September or early October and celebrates the tradition of London's working-class pearly families. The festival is run by a charitable organization that began in the 19th century when people wore pearl-covered outfits with pearl buttons to attract attention when raising money. Each pearly is a volunteer fundraiser who made their own outfits.
  • Raindance Film Festival: Occurring in late October and into November, this event is the largest independent film festival in the U.K. It showcases a wide range of formats from short films to web series, music videos, and virtual reality movies. Raindance also hosts indie film festivals in New York, L.A., Berlin, and Brussels, among other cities.
  • London Restaurant Festival: Save some room for some great eats at this city-wide celebration of eating out that goes on for the entire month of October. Several hundred restaurants participate in restaurant-hopping tours, chef-hosted events, and gastronomic weekends. Tickets for popular events go quickly, but American Express cardholders will get early access five days before the general public.
  • October Plenty on Bankside: This annual autumn harvest festival brings together ancient customs, theater, and plenty of contemporary events. The parade begins every year outside the Imperial War Museum and traditionally follows the Walnut Tree Walk street, but the date changes from year to year. After two years of interruptions, the 2022 details for October plenty are still yet to be announced and will likely feature a new route. Keep an eye on the Lions Part's website and socials for more updates.
  • National Poetry Day: Taking place all over the United Kingdom each October, this day is dedicated entirely to poetry and its power to bridge differences and make people feel connected. The theme for 2022 is the environment, in case you want to participate by writing a poem.
  • Frieze Art Fair: For five days, contemporary pieces from more than 160 leading galleries throughout the world are featured at this annual art fair in Regent's Park. Frieze London focuses on art produced after 2000, but for some earlier works, the Freize Masters art fair is nearby and showcases work made before the new millennium. Both fairs combined feature 280 galleries from 42 countries and they are ticketed. And while it lasts from mid-September through mid-November, Frieze Sculpture is a free event also hosted in the Regent's Park English Gardens.
  • 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

  • Daylight savings time ends in the U.K. around Nov.1 and in 2022 the clocks will be set back by one hour on Oct. 30.
  • 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 your hotels as soon as you know your travel dates, so you can scoop up any shoulder season rates before rooms begin to fill up.
  • If you want to eat at a special restaurant that is in high demand from locals or is in the theater district, make your reservations before you get to London if you can.
  • Be ready for the weather and expect that you will likely have to spend some days indoors at museums or historical sites to avoid getting wet.