The days are getting longer, the trees are finally budding leaves, and flowers are blooming all over the city: it’s springtime in London and there’s perhaps no better time to visit London. Yeah, sure, summertime has warmer and often sunnier weather, but visiting London in the spring gives you the chance to see the city come back to life after another grey, rainy, cold winter. Best of all, spring is a shoulder season for London travel, meaning you can often save on airfare.
If you’re considering a trip to London in the spring – which ranges from early March to mid-May – you might wonder what there is to do. In this post, I’ll share my favorite things to do during this season, based on my experience living in London and visiting many times since moving back to the States. Spring was absolutely my favorite time of year while I lived across the pond, due to bright daffodils all over and increasingly warm, sunny days.
To discover all the wonders of London in the springtime – and special experiences you can have by visiting during this season of the year – read on. You’ll learn about London’s many blooming flowers and trees, popular cultural events, and even a few extra activities that you can’t do year-round.
1. See Flowers in Bloom
Is there any better sign that spring is in the air like flowers popping up out on every corner of the city? I don’t think so.
One of the perks of visiting London in the spring is that you can witness how the city becomes a riot of color, with trees bursting into colorful blooms and the park’s lawns turning vibrant green. Below you’ll find five of the most gorgeous blooms you can see in London.
2. Cherry Blossoms
Mostly associated with Japan, cherry blossoms are one of the first blooms to signal the coming of springtime in London, hitting their peak at the end of March to the beginning of April. These beautiful flowers adorn many green spaces with their beautiful pink shades. Locals argue Kew Gardens and Holland Park are home to some of the most Instagram-friendly sakura trees.
Magnolias are another lovely tree that signal London is in full bloom. The pink and creamy-white bulbs give a good dose of color. When it comes to blossoms, magnolias are one of the first blooms to appear, starting in March. Unfortunately, they don’t last long. So try to catch them soon rather than later. Kensington and Chelsea have some of the most beautiful magnolias in London.
Daffodils are an iconic spring flower – even English poet William Wordsworth dedicated a poem to them. Unlike magnolias, you can find daffodils blooming all throughout spring in London. From February to April, their cheerful yellow petals liven up numerous nooks of the city. Head out to St. James’s Park – which receives most of the one million daffodil bulbs planted across the Royal Parks each year– for an explosion of color and seasonal beauty.
While they might not be as stunning and imposing as in Amsterdam, tulips are one of the spring stars in London. These colorful bulbs are a favorite for decorating royal buildings, coating their gardens with exuberant shades of golden, red, and white. You’ll find them at their best outside Buckingham Palace and in Regent’s Park.
The gorgeous wisteria blooms put on quite a show every year from late April or early May. You can see them in London’s poshest neighborhoods, with their purple flowers cascading from the balconies of residential townhouses or climbing up their columns. Elm Street, between Kensington and Chelsea, Elm Street has some of the most beautiful and photogenic wisteria trees in London.
7. Attend a Seasonal Event or Festival
Visiting London in the spring means you’ll be able to engage in some of the best festivals the city hosts. Some last weeks, but here are a few that can fit nicely into your itinerary for a bit of fun.
8. St. Patrick’s Day
Every 17th of March, the city dresses in green to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick. While it’s not a national holiday in England, London hosts numerous Irish-themed events, including artistic performances, parades, and marching bands. The center of St Patrick’s Day Festival is Trafalgar Square, where you can see live bands and find stalls and trucks selling Guinness and traditional and modern Irish food surrounding the area.
9. Pancake Day
Londoners have created the perfect excuse to indulge in towering dishes of pancakes; Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday. The festivity is actually a Christian feast that precedes the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday– a period of 40 days before Easter when people stop consuming unhealthy food. While its religious connotation has faded away, London hosts fun events across the city, with the Pancake Day races in London (which often raise money for charity) as the most popular one.
10. The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race
Football matches aren’t the only sporting events where Londoners bring out their competitive side. The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race is one of the world’s oldest sporting events and a Londoner’s favorite. The teams representing the two of the most prestigious British universities race on the River Thames. Over 250,000 people witness the spectacle, so make sure you get there early.
11. Vaisakhi Festival
India has held strong bonds with Britain, having been one of their most important colonies during the ruling of the British Empire. Numerous Indian customs nurtured Britains, including the use of spices, tea, and exotic flavors. The Vaisakhi Festival is a special day in Sikh and Punjabi culture, marking the start of the new farming year and the birth of Sikhism as a collective faith. It takes place on April 13th and the city hosts many free performances and cultural activities, such as turban tying
12. Eid Festival
Sticking with London’s multiculturalism, Eid Festival is a Muslim festival that marks the end of Ramadan. It takes place in Trafalgar Square every May, although authorities haven’t confirmed any exact dates yet. You can find many stalls selling Halal food. There are also performances from diverse cultures, including Indonesian dance troupes, Syrian classical musicians, and West African–European contemporary artists.
13. Chelsea Flower Show
For an extra dose of flower beauty, buy tickets for the Chelsea Flower Show. The Royal Horticultural Society and prestigious gardeners curate some of London’s best gardens on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea. You can see the most innovative garden designs and floral displays– it’s an excellent chance to steal a few gardening ideas. In 20221, the flower show will take place from May 24th to May 28th.
14. Hit up London’s Markets
London streets explode with markets, which is why I’ve dedicated an entire article to the best London markets – check it out, so you know which ones you can visit during your stay in London. The wide variety of markets you can find here is insane, from flower markets to food markets to antique markets; I assure you can find one that appeals to your interest.
If you’re a foodie, don’t waste any time and visit Borough Market, where exotic and delicious dishes will be waiting for you. Are you on the hunt for quirky vintage clothes? Old Spitalfields Market has what you’re looking for.
15. Have a Picnic in a Park
One of the best ways to enjoy London in the spring is to visit a local park, or even better, have a picnic in one of them. London is often gray and rainy. So when the slightest ray of sun hits the city and temperatures rise, locals grab their blankets and head out to the nearest park. Despite its urban landscape, London is rife with green spaces. In fact, it fits the UN’s definition of forest, with over 8.4 million trees. You can check out my guide to the best London parks to decide which ones to plan your picnic in during your visit.
Have any other questions about visiting London in the spring? Let me know in the comments, or join the conversations in my London Travel Tips Facebook community.