Going to London in February? Number one job is to wrap up warm, February is the coldest month of the year in the UK with temperatures dropping below freezing on numerous occasions. It’s also the most likely month to see snow in London too!
Fortunately, there’s plenty of events going on across the capital to keep your mind off of the chill. It might be worth seeking out some indoor activities to warm up and dry out on occasion as well.
The big events are of course Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day (okay, the last one is not really a big event, it’s just a terribly British event!), but there’s a whole host of other things to do. Family activities are aplenty as British schools have a half-term holiday in February and big attractions will have extra activities laid on.
Here are a few examples of what’s on.
Chinese New Year
This is an event well worth seeing, it’s the largest of its kind outside of Asia. In 2019 we welcome in the Year of the Pig and the celebrations will start on 5 February through to the 10 February.
A colourful parade is the main draw, with huge galloping dragons, cultural dancing and other activities, and of course plenty of fireworks.
It may be cold but remember, this event is completely free!
What a romantic city to spend this special day in! London goes all out for Valentine’s Day, with most restaurants converting their dining rooms into tables for two. If you do plan to eat out, just make sure you book in advance, as everybody else will be eating out at the same time!
If you want to do something a little bit different, check out the Royal Observatory in Greenwich’s ‘A Valentine’s Evening with the Stars’. An evening in the planetarium gazing at the romance of the night sky. You even get a free glass of bubbly whilst you stand on the famous Meridian line.
For all you singletons don’t despair, London’s clubs and bars are packed full of others in your position on this night.
First of all, what on Earth is Pancake Day? Its real name is actually Shrove Tuesday and it is a Christian religious festival which is observed across Europe.
It doesn’t always fall on the same day either, its date depends on Easter and as Easter was based on a Pagan festival which followed the Sun, Shrove Tuesday can fall in either February or March. However, it always falls seven weeks before Easter.
Shrove Tuesday marks the start of Lent, during which butter, eggs and fat would be given up. On Pancake Day you traditionally scoffed down all of these things so they weren’t there to tempt you.
In the UK, most people observe the day by eating pancakes at home. However, other activities have also become popular over the years, such as ‘mob football’ (no longer played!) and Pancake Races. In the past, the day was considered a ‘half-holiday’.
If you want to experience a Pancake race, check out the Flippin’ Good Pancake Races at Greenwich Market.
Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens
If you’re visiting London you have to visit Kew Gardens. It is the largest and most diverse botanical collection in the world with more than 30,000 types of plant on display and a botanical library with over 750,000 books. If you’re into plants it’s a must visit.
You may be forgiven for thinking that February is probably not the best time to go and see plants? You’d be wrong. On 9 February the spectacular Orchids Festival starts at Kew.
Celebrating the country of Columbia, thought to be the most biodiverse country on the planet the event centres around the Princess of Wales Conservatory which will house forest displays, mock-ups of the fauna as well as dazzling yellow orchids, to mimic the legendary El Dorado.
The orchids themselves are shaped into startling animal displays and are accompanied by live Latin music, traditional Columbian coffee and other exhibits and activities.
Staying in London
You’ll find London an ever so slightly quieter place to stay during February. Hotels are one option, but if you’re not used to London hotels, the rooms can feel a little small.
There are plenty of short term lets available in London, including serviced apartments in some prime city centre locations.
If you want to stay further out of the city centre, companies such as thesqua.re have London Heathrow apartments to rent. Ideal for the airport as well as your visit to Kew.