When to come to London: month by month

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The Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster in London

London is a special place to visit, because it doesn’t make a difference what time of year you visit the capital, there’s always something to do and to suit even the most discerning of people.

There are of course different things to do according to the month, for example it’s much more pleasant to take the London Eye River Cruise on a hot summer day, rather than when it’s snowing, but there’s always something for you to do, regardless of the day or month.

Similarly, the Metropolis London Hyde Park Hotel makes an excellent choice of accommodation at any point of the year. The hotel is located close to Paddington Underground and mainline train station and it’s just a few minute’s walk from the famous Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. The park is stunning at any time of year and is a must-see, particularly if you’re on your first visit to London.

We’re going to take you through the city month-by-month, letting you know what the weather will be like and just a couple of the things that you might like to do during your visit…

January

Although it’s winter, January is a very pleasant month in which to visit London, the city takes a relaxed approach to the first month of the year, plus there are all those sales to think about in shops from Oxford Circus to Bond Street. There’s plenty to entertain if retail therapy is part of your plan in London.

Similarly, as things aren’t as busy after Christmas, ticket availability for theatre shows is brilliant in January. You can practically take your pick of shows, but we would still advise that you book ahead to avoid disappointment at the last minute.

London also happens to be a brilliant place to spend New Year’s Eve too, there are organised street parties, fireworks and celebrations everywhere, why not be there when Big Ben rings out the first day of the year?

February

Monday 8th February means that the streets of Chinatown will be alive once again with the spectacle that is Chinese New Year.

The festivities begin early at 10am with the parade along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue and a Dragon and Lion Dance will be in the square from midday.

There are 100 or so restaurants for you to choose from for your lunch or dinner for the day, so get into the spirit and enjoy the decorations and special menus.

Of course, there’ll be plenty of places for you to either celebrate or boycott Valentine’s Day. London’s bars and restaurants will have you covered whatever your feelings towards the day of romance.

March

Spring is in full season in London when March comes along as the parks begin to bloom for Easter and of course the first bank holiday of the year between Friday 25th – Monday 28th March.

World Book Day is also on Thursday 3rd March so why not visit a library when you’re in London? The London Library in St James’ Square is an excellent choice as it houses over one million volumes in a 15-mile space in open-access shelves. This library is also a great place to get some reflective quiet time during your holiday, perfect after the hustle and bustle of the streets.

Or you could go in search of some obscure second-hand bookstores: The Guardian highly recommends Any Amount Of Books on Charing Cross Road, which has a basement of gems waiting to be discovered.

April

Outdoor pursuits are the order of the day for London in April as the days start to get a bit longer and the weather gets a little bit warmer too.

Why not register to tackle the London Marathon, or aim to cycle the London to Paris bike ride? These are fun even if you’re just spectating as they’re so ingrained into the season of the year in London, they’re a real part of the city’s culture and it’s worth becoming a part of the fun.

After the success of the David Bowie Is exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, it will be showing a new exhibition called The Rolling Stones: Exhibitionism from Tuesday 5th April – Sunday 4th September.

May

The sun has got his hat on in May as the city prepares itself for summer with displays from Morris Dancers – make sure you catch them on Hampstead Heath.

To fully articulate the season in bloom and for those with a green thumb, take in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show on 24th-28th May, which is a spectacle of petals each and every year.

Due to the beginning of good weather, May also sees the start of all-day outdoor events in the city. Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre begins its season in May, performing plays and musicals in an outdoor amphitheatre.

June

This month is when pubs, bars and theatres begin doing their pre-Edinburgh festival run of shows including comedy and short plays.

But the main event in London, at least for most, is the Wimbledon tennis championships. If you can’t get tickets to watch inside the arena itself don’t worry – you’ll be in good company on Henman Hill eating strawberries, drinking Pimms and watching some of the best athletes in the world compete to win this tournament. Pimms and watching some of the best athletes in the world compete to win this tournament.

London also celebrates the Queen’s birthday in June with the military parade that is Trooping the Colour. This is a popular sight, so make sure you head along to The Mall early to get yourself a good spot.

July

Wimbledon runs through to the 10th July so you’ll still be able to catch it if you prefer holidaying in London in the heat.

The BBC Proms begins on 15th July too, meaning that you can enjoy world-class classical music in London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The city is also home to festivals at this time of year, enjoy the City of London Festival between 20th June and 8th July and the RideLondon festival on 30th and 31st July. The first features everything from orchestras in public buildings to jazz concerts in skyscrapers and the latter is a world-famous festival of cycling, with five different events for you to enjoy over the weekend.

August

August is usually the hottest month in the city and you’ll see many a Londoner walking along Southbank enjoying the view with an ice cream or sitting at Gordon’s Wine Bar sipping a glass of white wine.Southbank enjoying the view with an ice cream or sitting at Gordon’s Wine Bar sipping a glass of white wine.

One of the highlights of August however for Londoners and visitors alike is the Notting Hill Carnival, which is essentially the city’s biggest street party during the August bank holiday weekend.

It’s hard to describe the spectacle that is the Notting Hill Carnival: steel bands, costumed performers, a sea of colours… Nothing will prepare you for it and it’s something that everyone should experience at least once. This is also a family-friendly event, so make sure you bring the kids!

September

For those with a penchant for arts and creativity, you’ll love the London Design Festival that’s on between 17th and 25th September.

It features the latest in design trends and events and installations from hundreds of different studios and people from all over the world. A prestigious event for those in the industry, there are lots of seminars to make the event a little more educational as well as visually impressive.

October

With dungeons and a bloodthirsty history, London is a perfect place to visit in October and for Halloween.

You can visit the Tower of London at any time of year, but in October you’re sure to get chills when you hear about the stories of its past. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a theatre buff then you should head to London’s West End and watch The Woman in Black, it’s a beautifully scary play.

The Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is also a popular attraction at this time of year. It’s a fascinating visit and takes you right into the world of the books and films, but you’re best to book ahead to avoid disappointment.

November

Remember, Remember the 5th of November… That’s right the start of November is Guy Fawkes’ season, with bonfires and fireworks a-plenty.

It has been customary for the cellars in the Houses of Parliament to be searched by the Yeoman of the Guard before each State Opening of Parliament ever since the plot of treason to overthrow the government. Take a tour around the Houses of Parliament for yourself to learn about this history and much more besides.

You’ll also notice that the theatres will start to get busier around this time of year, so make sure you book tickets in advance, especially for popular shows like Wicked and The Lion King.

December

Christmas is here and if there’s one place you have to go in London it’s straight to Trafalgar Square to see the Christmas tree there. Each year a tree is shipped from Oslo as a token of gratitude for Britain’s support to Norway during the Second World War.

Christmas shopping is a true joy in London too, if only for the window displays, take a jaunt to Harrods to see the spectacle – and try the free samples!

Enjoy the Southbank Centre Winter Festival, with a Christmas market featuring pop-up attractions, food stalls and activities.Southbank Centre Winter Festival, with a Christmas market featuring pop-up attractions, food stalls and activities.

A particularly fun and potentially romantic aspect of London in December is that ice rinks have a habit of popping up outside major attractions and museums. Try the one outside the Natural History Museum, it’s in South Kensington, which is a particularly lovely spot when it’s decorated for Christmas.

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