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.
Traveling to London in October means 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 that doesn't mean you can play your reservations by ear.
London Weather in October
London's average high temperatures 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). At the end of the month, it probably won't get warmer than 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).
It rains an average of 10 days during October, so you'll likely 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 October 31, the sun will set before 5 p.m.
What to Pack
You don't need to bring your heavy coat and gloves, 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. If you plan on going out to a nice restaurant or the theatre, you should also bring a set of formal clothes. London is a very pedestrian-friendly city, so bring a pair of broken-in close-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.
October Events in London
With the fall weather, October also brings many exciting events from film and harvest festivals to special celebrations of poetry and art. In 2020, many of these events may be canceled, altered, or postponed, so be sure to check the official organizer's websites for the latest details.
- 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 and celebrates the tradition of London's working-class pearly families, a charitable organization that began in the 19th century when people in pearl-covered outfits with pearl buttons to attract attention when raising money.
- Raindance Film Festival: Occurring in late October, this event is the UK's largest independent film festival and shows a range of formats from short films to web series, music videos, and virtual reality movies.
- London Restaurant Festival: Save some room 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. The parade begins every year outside the Imperial War Museum and follows the Walnut Tree Walk street, but the date changes from year to year.
- National Poetry Day: Taking place all over the United Kingdom every October, this day celebrates poetry and its power to bridge differences and make people feel connected.
- 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 October 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
- The UK acknowledges daylight saving time on November 1 and the clocks will be set back by one hour as soon as the month is over.
- 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 in the theater district, make your reservations before you go 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.