Weather in London
The general perception of London weather being eternally wet and grey is actually not deserved. While London weather is unpredictable, the average annual rainfall is not especially high, and the city is generally warmer temperature-wise than the rest of the UK.
London, in common with the rest of England, has a temperate maritime climate, meaning that while the seasons are well-defined, temperatures do not run to extremes. The thermometer rarely reaches freezing point in mid- winter (December and January ) and the height of summer (July and August) offers some balmy days with pleasant temperatures averaging 22°C. The main feature of London’s climate, however, is that nothing can be taken for granted – heat waves and cold spells can sneak up on you any time of year.
Best time to visit London
London is a city for all seasons, but possibly the most pleasant time of year to visit is Spring, which arrives usually in fits and starts in early March, with some fresh, sunny days and the appearance of daffodils in the parks. Temperatures creep up through March and April until the daily average by mid-May is 17°C. Rainfall is relatively low in total during spring, but it comes in frequent showery bursts, making an umbrella and rain-coat useful accessories. Look out for traditional spring time events like pancake races, fairs and festivals, and the Chelsea Flower Show.
Summer in London (June, July and August) is when the city’s parks and gardens come into their own, providing green oases to escape the heat generated by the close-packed buildings and venues for a host of music festivals and other outdoor events, like the popular Notting Hill Carnival. Sunshine cannot be guaranteed, even in summer – drizzly, grey days are just as likely to occur as dry, sunny ones.
Autumn in London, from mid-September to November, is the wettest time of year. The days begin to shorten, and towards the end of October there is a definite nip in the air. Day time temperatures hover in the late teens (centigrade), beginning to drop into single figures in late October. Autumn days in London are crisp, cool and pleasant, with the added advantage that the summer crowds have dissipated. September and October is trade exhibition and art fair season in London, with loads to see and do, indoors and out.
When winter closes in early in December it becomes chilly and damp outdoors, with only an average hour a day of sunshine, but London’s shops light up with Christmas decorations and the city takes on a festive air. The West End shows, top restaurants, music venues like the South Bank Centre and O2, and London’s cosy pubs and clubs draw the crowds in from out of the cold. Snowfall is rare in London, but expect plenty of intermittent drizzle from December, through January.
What to pack for a holiday in London
The best way to plan your wardrobe for a trip to London, any time of year, is in layers. Start with a T-shirt, add a jumper, cardigan and warm jacket. An umbrella or waterproof poncho in your bag is likely to be a boon, and some comfortable footwear. Sacrifice fashion for comfort, and be warned that even in mid-winter you will find yourself stripping off the woollies indoors – the Brits tend to overdo the central heating!
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