Springtime is one of the best times to be in London. The harshness of winter is over and it’s time to enjoy a season of more daylight, warmer temperatures, bank holidays and the city in full bloom.
It’s time to ditch the heavy layers and explore some of the best things to do in London in Spring
Our cherry blossom might not be quite as impressive as our friends in Tokyo, but there are plenty of pretty pink-linked avenues and parks for you to sit and gaze up.
London isn’t just pretty in pink though, the whole city is at its most colourful this time of year. The capital’s parks are some of the best spots for seeing all the spring colours in bloom too.If yellow is your thing, head to St James’s Park for daffodils, or travel southwest for the purple hues of the crocuses on Wimbledon Common or bluebells in Richmond Park, Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Kew Gardens.
Spring is also when you’ll see and smell Wisteria, the fragrant, pink and purple climbing flowering plants can be found all over London, but look particularly lovely and abundant in Holland Park and Hampstead Heath Pergola between April and June.
The downside of Spring is that it’s the start of hay fever season. So stock up on antihistamines so you can “stop and smell the roses” without sneezing all over them.
Cultural Events and Bank holidays
Ok, so bank holidays are for everyone in the UK, not just London but with plenty of events on across the extended Easter weekend, and two May bank holidays. Londoners know how to make the most of their time off, and there always plenty of free and cheap events on.
May is also the start of the Underbelly Festival where music, comedy and cabaret takes place inside a giant purple cow on the South Bank, and large marquee on Cavendish Square. There are also smaller events with a more local-focus during Spring and Summer, including The Dulwich Festival which celebrates the south London area’s culture, history and communities.
The warmer weather is also a great time for large outdoor cultural events, including Vaisakhi Festival Sikh and Punjabi festival in April, the Feast of St George in May, and the Days of Poland Festival over the early May bank holiday.
Outdoor eating and Food Markets
Food markets are a London staple all year round, but some are more seasonal through the Spring and Summer, plus the chance of sunshine and warmth makes eating outdoors much more appealing. Borough Market is a year-round favourite for Londoners and visitors alike. But it’s particularly great during the Spring and Summer months where you can explore stalls, samples, and find a sunny spot to enjoy some street food.
Other regular London food markets include the South Bank Centre food market, behind the Royal Festival Hall (Fridays, Saturdays and bank holiday Mondays), the Urban Food Fest at Euro Car Parks in Shoreditch (every Saturday), and Canopy Market in Granary Square, King’s Cross (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays).
Spring is also the start of the picnic season – time to grab treats from home (or supermarkets where snacks don’t come with fancy artisanal price tags), roll out blankets and head for the parks.
River and canalside events
Strolling along the Thames or Regent’s Canal is a fine way to spend a sunny Spring day, but the waterways are at their liveliest at this time of year.
Crowds of rowdy rowing fans gather along the Thames to cheer on competing teams from Oxford and Cambridge universities in the annual Boat Race.
For calmer waters, visit west London’s pretty Little Venice neighbourhood for the Canalway Cavalcade for a free celebration of the area’s boat-dwelling communities, with pageants, morris dancing, live music and lots of refreshments.
Big outdoor fitness events
Spring is also the season of big outdoor fitness events. In April, tens of thousands of runners will take part in the annual London Marathon to run the world-famous 26 mile course across the capital. The course starts in Greenwich and ends at The Mall in central London, and the biggest crowds tend to gather around Embankment and the finish line. Even if you’re not up for participating, there’s usually a good atmosphere among the spectators cheering weary runners on.
Other running events include the London Spring 10K, which is a scenic run through Regent’s Park, and The Vitality London 10,000 which has a route that goes past some of London’s most famous landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral, Somerset House and Westminster Abbey. Spring is also the season for major cycling events, including Ride The Night and FordRide London.
Explore free art on an art trail
Many of London’s galleries and museums are free to visit. But appreciating art isn’t just an indoor activity, especially during the warmer seasons. London also has several permanent and seasonal art trails across the city, where you can combine a city stroll with enjoying sculpture, murals and sound installations.
One of the longest is The Line Art Walk, which opened in 2015 and stretches along the riverside path between The O2 Arena at Greenwich Peninsula and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. It’s a permanent outdoor exhibition featuring large scale pieces from artists including Larry Achiampong, Alex Chinneck, Tracey Emin and Laura Ford.
Spring is also when the corporate sprawl of The City of London is transformed into an outdoor gallery for the annual Sculpture in the City trail.
First published in Spring 2019, last update Feb 28th 2023