Visiting London in January: What to Pack, Weather, Events & Things to Do (2023)
If you ask most people when they want to visit London, my guess is that the vast majority would not say January. For those of us who call the Northern Hemisphere home, even the word “January” might give you a chill: it’s a time of short days, cold weather, and the possibility of snow for many. Even worse, it’s not a wintry month with holidays – nor does it yet hold the promise of spring. I won’t go so far as to say January’s the worst month – but I also won’t judge you if you feel that way!
So is it a terrible idea to visit London in January? Actually – no! Aside from deals on flights and hotels due to being a less popular time to visit, there are some amazing things to do in London in January, and plenty of ways to stay warm even when out exploring London’s must-see sights and landmarks.
Whatever brings you to London in January, this guide will help you make the most of it. Below you’ll find advice on the weather and what to pack, top London events in January 2023, and other ideas for uniquely seasonal experiences you can have by visiting during this time of year. So bundle up, grab your passport, and set out to enjoy all London has to offer in January.
January Sunrise & Sunset Times in London
Knowing how long days are is a piece of information that’ll allow you to better organize your itinerary and see how many activities you confit in a day.
As a city in the northern hemisphere, London is in the middle of winter during January, which means short days and long nights – but each day is longer than the one before, such that there’s an extra hour of daylight at the end of January compared with the beginning of the month.
Below you’ll find a chart of sunrise and sunset times in London in January:
|Daylight Hours||~8 hours||~8.5 hours||~9 hours|
If seeing a sunrise or sunset during your London visit sounds like an activity you’d like to include in your itinerary, be sure to check my guides on the best places to see the sunrise and the best places to view the sunset.
London January Weather & Temperature
January normally is the coldest month of the year. Don’t worry, though. It’s not like the weather and temperature won’t let you explore and enjoy the city.
On average, the London temperature in January varies between 47°F (8°C) as the high to 37°F (3°C) as the low. However, there’s one thing that can make you miserable if you don’t bring adequate clothes: the wind. January is not only the coldest month but also the windiest, which means you need to layer up to stay warm.
Last but not least, snow is not unheard of in January. Don’t panic, though. It only snows about 2-3 days throughout the month and typically doesn’t add up to more than 1-2 inches in a single day. Moreover, London in the snow is actually magical!
What to Pack for London in January
Yes, London is cold and windy and snowy in December. But it’s nothing you can’t face without the right clothing. Knowing what clothes to wear in London in January is crucial to ensure you can explore the city comfortably – and avoid spending money on warm clothes.
When planning what to pack for London in January, I suggest you pack layers to keep you warm.
- Pack two sets of long-sleeve, natural fiber shirts as base layers; I love Unbound Merino’s tops which are super warm and also odor-reducing so you won’t need to worry about washing them during your trip.
- Bring a sweater and a hoodie, as well as a raincoat – I love this Pendleton slicker which is totally waterproof.
- Don’t forget to bring a beanie and a scarf to beat the wind and keep your head warm.
- Pack a pair of trousers and two pairs of jeans.
- Bring your rain boots to keep your feet dry; you might also want an umbrella if the forecast calls for lots of rain.
- Bring a pair of comfortable shoes. London is a walkable city, and you’ll spend lots of time walking around.
- If you plan to go to a restaurant or an afternoon tea, put a fancy outfit together and bring it to London.
8 Great Events in London in January 2023
It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or snowing, there’s always something interesting going on in London. Here are eight fantastic events you can attend in London in January.
London New Year’s Day Parade (January 1)
Photos courtesy of LNYDP
After fireworks at midnight over the Thames, London’s New Year’s Day Parade will fill the streets of the West End to welcome 2023. The parade dates back to 1987 and has won a loyal fanbase throughout the years. In fact, between half a million to a million people attend the event. The parade begins at Piccadilly (right outside The Ritz) at 1 pm and ends at about 3:30 pm.
Participants vary each year, but you can expect the presence of All the Queen’s Horses, a group of riders recreating a historic pageant, London’s Chinese Community performing a traditional dragon dance, and giant inflatable balloons of all shapes and sizes.
London Short Film Festival (January 13-22)
If you’re a cinephile or have any interest in movies, get your tickets for the London Short Film Festival. As the name suggests, this film festival focuses on short films, showcasing the works of over 500 British and international filmmakers.
This ten-day festival has gained recognition for the multiplicity of filmmakers and their eclectic selection of movies. Moreover, movies are screened in gorgeous movie theaters; some are highly iconic, like the Rich Mix and ICA in Piccadilly.
London Art Fair (January 18-22)
Photos courtesy of the London Art Fair via Instagram
Founded in 1989, the London Art Fair is a place where you can explore and buy exceptional Modern and Contemporary Art. You can find the finest works of art, jewelry, and handicrafts. While their galleries mainly focus on British art, they have been expanding their latest collections with international artists, which currently make up 25% of their exhibitors. Besides the artworks, the fair hosts a program of curated talks, panel discussions, and artists’ insights.
Burns Night (January 25)
Burns Night is the one event you don’t want to miss if you visit London in January. (It’s better in Scotland if you want to add that onto your London itinerary.)
Every January 25, Londoners gather to celebrate Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. The celebration is a fabulous way to get in touch with Scotland and its culture, especially if you’re not exploring this beautiful country on your trip. There are multiple events around London to celebrate Burns Nights.
Most people go to pubs and restaurants to enjoy traditional Scottish fare and taste whisky. Those who prefer more cultural events, attend celebrations with poetry readings, bagpipe music, and ceilidh dancing.
Chinese New Year (TBC)
London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are the largest outside Asia – or so they claim. Apparently, New York, Sydney, and San Francisco have also made the same statement. Either way, London’s Chinese New Year is going to be one hell of a party!
The Chinese New Year always falls between late January and mid-February; in 2023, the New Year occurs on Sunday, January 22 – but the dates of the celebration itself haven’t been announced yet.
Festivities concentrate on the West End, extending from Shaftesbury Avenue down to Trafalgar Square. There will be Chinese food trucks, a vibrant Chinese New Year parade, featuring colorful floats and the largest gathering of Chinese lions and dragons in Europe, stage performances, and traditional ceremonies.
Hogwarts in the Snow (through January 15)
Photo credits: big-ashb via Flickr
Visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour is a fantastic plan regardless of the time of the year. However, it gets extra magical during the winter season, when every movie set gets a festive makeover.
Hogwarts in the Snow is an annual event where the staff decorates the Harry Potter studio with a winter and Christmas theme. You’ll get to see Gryffindor’s common room dressed in Christmas garlands and fairy lights, the Forbidden Forest and Diagon Alley covered in snow and even scenes like the Yule Ball!
January Sales (until mid-January)
I hope you’ve got some room left in your suitcase because London’s January sales are hard to resist.
January sales typically, start on Boxing Day (26 December) or the day after and are in full swing until the middle of the month. You can venture into popular shopping destinations, like Covent Garden or West End. If you want to splash out, visit London’s iconic department stores, like Harrods or Fortnum & Mason.
Ice Rink Canary Wharf (All Month)
Photo credit (R): Matt Buck via Flickr
Year after year, Canary Wharf opens a huge ice rink in Canada Square Park. The season lasts 18 weeks, longer than any other London ice rink. The venue has a lovely atmosphere and helpful staff. It also sits below a magnificent roof, lit up by the glow of over 1,000 sparkling fairy lights. So, rain or shine, nothing will stop you from gliding around the ice. As a heads up, Ice Rink Canary Wharf is extremely popular and gets crowded. Consequently, there’s not too much space for speedy skaters.
7 Other Great Things to Do in London in January
Still have time in your itinerary? Here’s a list of other things to do in London in January.
- Catch one last Christmas or pantomime show before most end in the first week of January.
- Go to a London art gallery or museum. The Tate Britain is showing the works of British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye all month until February 26.
- Warm up with an afternoon tea at one of London’s fancy hotels.
- Take a wintery walk along the Southbank.
- Grab a pint by the fire in an old British pub. The Grapes is a lovely pub in Limehouse with a cozy fireplace. Get your pint, move your chair to the hearth, and warm up while listening to the crackling fire.
- Visit a covered market and indulge in street food; Borough is best, but Spitalfields is also a lovely spot for a snack.
- Experience London from above on one of the city’s rooftops; if it’s chilly, SkyGarden is a great option as it’s fully covered.
Have any other questions about visiting London in January? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll help you finish planning your trip!