BEST TIMES TO VISIT BRITAIN
A lot of people ask when the best time to visit Britain is. Being an Anglophile, I would, of course, happily visit Britain any time of year, including the dead of winter. However, with the price of airline tickets being what they are, it pays to know what one is getting into.
WHEN TO GO
It’s true: Summer, the high tourist season, offers warmer weather and less rainfall. But the trade-off is putting up with hordes of fanny-pack-wearing tourists and peak, highway-robbery prices. Worse, a “cultural slump” occurs in the summer, when the Brits, themselves, go on holiday. The regular season for opera, ballet, and symphonic music runs from mid-autumn, throughout winter, and into mid-spring. So please, even though many visitors prefer summer, you needn't tie yourself to that season! Cusp periods, in April, May, September, and October, provide a great compromise, especially if you’re a culture vulture. If your plans consist primarily of walking and hiking, then maybe summer months are best for you—unless you’re a hearty soul who enjoys cold weather! The Brits are certainly hearty. They tend to keep their homes and hotel rooms at goose-bump temperatures during the winter, which may startle the average American.
UK weather, year round, compared to many parts of the US, is very temperate. The ocean moderates the temperatures of the British Isles, so the winters are generally mild, and summers, cool. But temps and rainfall vary greatly across the UK! Generally speaking: London and Essex have the warmest and driest weather; Wales and Scotland, the wettest; and Scotland, the coolest. (I heard one cheeky weatherman in the UK tell his radio audience that it was raining in Scotland “like it has been since about the mid-fifteenth century.” I laughed so hard, I nearly choked on my Shandy.)
BOTTOM LINE: Regardless of when you visit Britain, you’ll probably experience rain! So carry an umbrella and adopt a British “stiff upper lip.” Remaining unfazed by rain proves you’re a true Anglophile and builds character. Plan both indoor and outdoor activities, and save those museum visits for rainy days. (Frankly, one of the most pleasurable experiences I’ve had in the UK was hiking the moors on a rainy, autumn day. The “rain” was mist and felt glorious on my face.) And finally, always, year round, bring layers of clothing. (London, which has some of the UK’s warmest summertime weather, may bake in a heat wave, then a few days later, luxuriate in cool, sweater-wearing temperatures. You need layers.)
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