No matter when you visit London, the city always has something to offer, from historic attractions and walks through royal parks, to a plethora of museums and galleries, parades and cultural popups, creative workshops, West End shows, delicious foodie events, and luxury hotel stays, there’s something to keep you always entertained. Here’s some inspiration for things to see, do and experience throughout the year.
The Best Time of Year to Visit London
Springtime is beautiful in London as the gardens and parks come alive with colour, and so, cue the cherry blossoms from March onwards. These can be seen all around the city from the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park, Greenwich Park, and Kew Gardens to St Paul’s Cathedral, Regent’s Park, St James’s Park, and Kensington Gardens.
St Patrick’s Day is on 17 March and that’s a good enough excuse for a knees up. Start at Trafalgar Square for its annual free festival that highlights the best of Irish culture, then make your way to the traditional pub, Waxy O’Connor’s on Rupert Street for drinks, bar food and live music.
Get involved in Global Recycling Day on 18 March and go litter picking in your neighbourhood. Check out CleanupUK to see how you can volunteer.
Celebrate Mother’s Day on 19 March with a luxury afternoon at the five-star favourite, Corinthia London, that’s famous for its high tea and spa. Then there are various champagne tasting experiences, such as Searcys or take her for a cocktail at ultra-stylish art deco bar, The Painter’s Room, Claridge’s.
As soon as April hits, it’s time to think of Easter, and there’s plenty of family fun to be had, from organised egg hunts in daffodil filled parks, to arts and crafts for all the family, and trails in nature reserves over the Easter weekend hosted from 7-10 April. Be sure to stock up on chocolate from British chocolatiers, Rococo.
In March there are two bank holidays, one at the start and another at the very end of the month. Make the most of the long weekends with staycations at The Lost Poet in Notting Hill, The Prince Akatoki for those who want to be central or Batty Langley’s in East London.
The first week of May is also time to join in with the Eid Festival, to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of fasting. Eid in the Square is hosted at Trafalgar Square and the event is in partnership with London based arts, culture and grass roots Muslim organisations to bring together communities, families and friends for the celebrations.
Calling all horticultural enthusiasts, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a real highlight of the year. Here, there’s a range of floral displays, beautiful gardens as well as botanical inspiration and trends for the upcoming year. There’s also Chelsea in Bloom, London’s largest free flower festival that takes place at the end of May.
For all the crafters, London Craft Week brings together the very best of national and international creativity with over 250 established and emerging makers, designers, brands and galleries from around the world. It’s an ideal chance to get involved with a whole host of talks and workshops.
June marks the start of summer and a must-see is the annual Royal Academy of Arts annual Summer Exhibition to kick off the season. Running from June until August, you’ll discover a range of mediums on display from paintings to sculptures from known and upcoming artists.
No city does Pride celebrations quite like London, and July is the time to celebrate the diversity of the LGBT+ community. Expect colour, fun and good vibes all over the city, along with a parade through central London.
July is the time for the world-famous Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, and if you don’t manage to get tickets or secure a spot on Henman Hill, you can find pop up screens across London showing the sport such as Wimbledon in the Gardens in Mayfair and the Screen on the Canal in King’s Cross.
If you missed the Chelsea Flower Show or simply can’t get enough of the botanicals, there’s also beautiful gardens and floral displays shown at the largest annual flower show in the world, RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival and it takes place in July.
Whilst the sun is shining why not take to one of London’s parks and partake in a picnic. Stock up on supplies from Fortnum’s and head to St James’s Park or allow DUKES London to do the honours and provide a luxury Perrier-Jouët picnic. Expect a hamper filled with a delicious selection of British picnic favourites, plus guests will receive a rug, cutlery and all the finer complementary details.
For some culture add the BBC Proms to the list, the annual celebration of classical music at the Royal Albert Hall, or why not take in an open-air theatre show at St Regent’s Park.
At the end of August you have to block out the diary for Notting Hill Carnival, the ultimate Caribbean festival that draws in the crowds from far and wide. It’s happened in London since 1966 and has evolved into Europe’s biggest carnival with reggae, ska, old and old school R&B blasting out sound systems, plus steel bands.
Running from mid-August to early September is the Covent Garden Ice Cream Festival; there’s over 40 varieties to try and they come in various forms from traditional dairy and plant-based, to frozen margaritas, and frose.
The London Design Festival puts London right on the map as being the design capital of the world. This year marks its 20th anniversary and will take place from 17-25 September with a host of installations, talks, museum exhibits, and Design Districts across the city showcasing their own local creativity.
To mark Black History Month in October there’s an array of cultural events across the city that puts a spotlight on black communities, culture and history from comedy shows and literary salons to bus tours and guided walks.
From 12 –16 October Frieze London and Frieze Masters is back at Regent’s Park and it’s where galleries present curated selections in ode to the creative nature of London. This year will see over 280 galleries from 42 countries showcase artworks.
Calling all cocktail connoisseurs, London Cocktail Week runs from 13 – 23 October. Expect a range of weird and wonderful tipples, discounts, workshops, pop ups, and tastings. Book into the Punch Room at The London EDITION and work your way through the experimental cocktail menu.
Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated on 24 October and a popular place to head is Trafalgar Square as it plays host to London’s biggest Diwali celebration and is organised by the Mayor of London. For those who want to add food into the mix, head to Dishoom, or for views across London, the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich also hosts a family-friendly event.
There’s only one way to soak up the spookiness of Halloween, and that’s to explore the oldest parts of London with a ghost tour. There’s plenty of ghost walks to be had that’ll see you sightsee London’s most haunted streets, churchyards and Roman ruins.
Remember, remember the fifth of November with bonfires and firework displays all over the city. The Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival is a must-visit with its spectacular display complete with sweet treats, tipples, and music.
London is beautiful in winter, as the Christmas lights come out in force. Be sure to join the Regent Street Christmas lights switch on that usually happens at the end of November to see the angels light up, or the smaller Mount Street switch on, and go to The Connaught for a wee dram to warm the cockles afterwards. There’s also the popular Kew Gardens at night events that allows visitors to explore an enchanting Christmas trail through the iconic gardens.
Ice rinks are synonymous with winter, and you’ll find them across the city, from Somerset House to Ally Pally, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and Hampton Court Palace.
Stroll along London’s South Bank and there’s wooden chalets lining the banks of the Thames filled with everything from mulled wine to fondue. Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Borough Market, Greenwich and King’s Cross all have their own festive stalls.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a carol concert and so, be sure to book into Carols at the Hall (the Royal Albert Hall to be precise), there’s also the very special candle lit Advent and Christmas services at St Paul’s Cathedral, as well as St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square.
It’s also the time to book into a pantomime with the kids, and back by popular demand is The London Palladium Pantomime for a seventh year, with Dawn French and Julian Clary leading the cast in a brand-new production of Jack and the Beanstalk.
As a new year begins, a tradition is to watch the annual New Year’s Day Parade in central London. It features thousands of performers from across the world from dancer and acrobats to marching bands and historic vehicles either join the crowds in central London or watch from the comfort of your sofa. January is time to hit the shops for the sales, Selfridges, Brown’s, Harrods, and Liberty London are must-visits for the die-hard sale shoppers. Get there early though, there will be queues guaranteed.
Later in the month it’s time to pick up the partying again thanks to the Chinese New Year, where there’s parades, events across the city and restaurants come out in full force with delicious menus that pay homage to the Imperial Banquets of the Qing Dynasty, such as A. Wong.
A few days later on 25 January we look to Burns Night in London, and it’s time to raise a glass to Scottish poet, Robert Burns. As such, you’ll find Scottish classics in the form of haggis and tatties and whisky on the menus across London at various establishments such as The Gladwin Brothers, No. Fifty Cheyne, The Sun Tavern, and The Chelsea Pig to name a few.
Love is in the air in February and there are plenty of ways to get involved with your other half or bestie from Valentine’s-inspired Michelin Star tasting menus and romantic hotel stays to Galentine’s crafty workshops and pizza and fizz nights.