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When to visit London

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Depending on the weather or events that take your fancy, when to visit London is the first thing to consider.

London changes just like the seasons; depending on the time of year, there are different things to see and do.

Choosing the best time to visit the capital can be based on what the weather will be like, or what types of activities take your fancy.

When to visit London When to visit London When to visit London When to visit London

September – November

Party away the summer!

As the sun still rears its head until the late evening, London clings to the end of the summer in September.

The annual Thames Festival (early September Southbank to St Katherine Docks) honours the end of the season with the city's largest arts events.

Street performers, musicians, dancers and school children celebrate their diverse culture as Londoners pay tribute to the river, with food festivals on the bridges to boat races stretching from Greenwich to Lambeth.

Come October, the trees along the embankment turn orange and the parks become a playground for fallen leaves, creating some very scenic walks before the weather turns too cold.

This month also marks the BFI London Film Festival (Southbank & Leicester Square and other venues; £7.50-£25; Telephone: 020 7928 3232), a must for any movie fan, as the public can have access to nearly every showing if they book early enough.

Since 1956 the festival has showcased the best new films from around the world, making it one of the world's most respected film festivals.

Early November is one of the best times to visit London's parks, as they host free or cheap Bonfire Nights (Battersea Park from 6pm; £6 entry; Victoria Park details unconfirmed; free entry). These are large events, with funfairs running all day before the main fireworks displays begin in the early evening.

This is also a good time to book relatively cheap accommodation now that the UK bank holidays are out of the way!

When to visit London When to visit London When to visit London When to visit London

December – February

Deck the halls with London Christmas shopping!

London is not exempt from suffering freezing cold weather in winter, but this provides the perfect atmosphere to walk around Covent Garden in December doing last-minute Christmas shopping and buying a cup of mulled wine or bag of roasted chestnuts from a parked-up van.

Oxford Street and Regents Street, although busy, will guarantee a Christmas buzz as the lights dazzle and Hamleys toy store (Regents Street; 10am-8pm; Telephone: 0871 704 1977) transforms into a strange and wonderful festive cave of delights.

Come January there is still plenty of winter activities to do, from ice skating at the Tower of London (Nov-Jan; Tower Hill; 10am-10pm; Telephone: 020 8241 9818) or Somerset House (Nov-Jan; Charing Cross; Telephone: 020 7845 4600) to watching 10,000 performers from 20 countries around the world take to the New Year's Day Parade (Begins at Ritz Hotel, Green Park; 12-3pm; Telephone: 020 8566 8586).

February visitors can enjoy the celebrations as Chinese New Year culminates in Trafalgar Square (Feb 21st; Charing Cross or Embankment tube; 12-6pm; free entry) for one of the largest festivals in Chinese culture.

It is worth booking a hotel in London early for Christmas visits, although you can pick up a bargain during January.

When to visit London When to visit London When to visit London When to visit London

March – May

London in bloom

Springtime in London calls for another trip to the parks to see the flowers come into bloom, but it also marks the best time to visit Kew Gardens (Kew Gardens; 9.30am-6pm; £13.50) to really witness colour.

The festivals continue in March with thousands of people celebrating St Patrick's Day in Trafalgar Square (Charing Cross; 12-6pm; free entry) and an equally joyous occasion down on the riverfront as old rivals come out for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race (Along Thames; March 26th; 5pm; free entry).

April sees keen athletes and regretful costumed runners come out for the London Marathon (Across London; April 17th; free entry), while inside the London Book Fair (April 11th-13th; Earls Court;9am-6.30pm; Telephone: 020 8271 2124) overruns Earls Court.

May is fast-becoming one of London's hottest months, so this could be the best time to head down to the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park (Regent's Park; Telephone: 08443 753 460) and watch anything from children's plays to Shakespeare classics.

Green-fingered types can visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (Slone Square; Telephone: 0845 260 5000), or people looking for an alternative day out can see the Punch and Judy Festival (Covent Garden; 10am-5.30pm; Telephone: 020 7375 0441) at Covent Garden.

Stay in a hostel near the park during this time to fully utilise the hot weather!

When to visit London When to visit London When to visit London When to visit London

June – August

Food, street dancing and celebrations in the heat!

There are plenty of ways to entertain the children during the school holidays in the capital, starting with the biggest food festival, Taste of London (Regent's Park; June 16-19th; Telephone: 0207 471 1080) in June and West End Live (Leicester Square; June 19-20th; Telephone: 020 7641 3297; free entry), a free showcase of the hottest musicals in the capital.

During July the city's museums and galleries put on a number of special children's activities, while other highlights include the Pride London Parade (Begins at Bond Street; July 2nd; Telephone: 0844 884 2439; free entry) and the best tennis championship in the world, Wimbledon (Wimbledon; June 20th-July 3rd; from £33; Telephone: 020 8971 2473).

In August the streets of west London are overcome with the carnival spirit during the final bank holiday as the Notting Hill Carnival (Ladbroke Grove; from 9am; free entry) comes to town.

This event celebrates London's diverse culture in spectacular colour, with floats, dancing and food stalls from around the world.

Summer months can be more expensive for accommodation in London, so make sure you check out the best deals available.

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