London in January: 8 top reasons to visit (2023 guide)

Dusk light over the River Thames in London in January

As the festive season dies away, London remains an ever-present city with an abundance of famous attractions. 

London’s museums, historical attractions and galleries stay open all year round, and they’re much quieter after the Christmas period. 

Cheap prices are in abundance in January, and winter walks with a hot chocolate are the ideal winter warmer. 

While it’s not the most popular month to visit London, this brings extra allures for anyone who prefers fewer crowds. 

I grew up in London, and spent many a January exploring the city’s allures. And here are my top reasons to visit London in January! 

Reasons to visit London in January

Wrap up for walks along the River Thames, check out the still-present festive decorations and enjoy a wide range of winter comfort food – plus, make the most of cheaper hotel prices! Here are all the reasons to visit London in January. 

New Year’s Day celebrations

Fireworks in London in November.

As the embers of the old year die out and the new year blinks awake, London throws a party.

Londoners celebrate New Year’s Day with a parade that paints the city in a carnival of colours and spectacle.

Kick off the year with the New Year’s Day Parade, a beloved London tradition dating back to 1987.

Starting at noon, the procession embarks on a 2-mile route beginning at Parliament Square and concluding near Buckingham Palace.

The parade is a glorious medley of colourful floats, high-stepping horses, cheerleaders, marching bands, and performers from all over the globe.

Thousands of performers decked out in extravagant costumes stomp down the streets of central London.

The streets are festooned with smiling faces, confetti, and the sound of trumpets, giving the city an infectious vibrancy.

And for anyone nursing a slightly heavy head from the previous night, this spectacle is an instant pick-me-up!

January sales

Christmas lights decoration at Oxford street and lots of people walking during the Christmas sale, public transport, buses and taxies

With the glow of Christmas behind, London’s shopfronts open their doors with huge sales.

While the sales often start online on Boxing Day, nothing beats the thrill of hunting on the high street.

Oxford Street, where flagship stores rub shoulders, sees its prices plunge after Christmas, with discounts up to a jaw-dropping 70% off in some stores.

Westfield, in both its White City and Stratford locations, sees droves of bargain hunters descend upon its many outlets.

Whether it’s designer threads or the latest tech gadgets you’re after, you can bet your bottom dollar (or pound) that there’s a discount with your name on it.

The sales usually linger through January, so you have plenty of time to explore and bag the best deals.

You could even go on a winter day trip to Bicester Village, a designer outlet in Oxfordshire.

Just remember to pack an extra suitcase for all your goodies! 

Festive celebrations continue

London, United Kingdom - November 22, 2012: People skating on a crowded ice skating rink in Somerset House in the evening.

One of the reasons January shines in London is that its festive makeover spans past December. 

The city’s ice rinks often remain open into January – one of the best places to ice skate is Somerset House, where you can glide around its 18th-century courtyard, enjoying the exquisite architecture as your backdrop.

Canary Wharf’s ice skating rink even stays open until February

And what about London’s renowned light installations?

Major landmarks and neighbourhoods across London are illuminated by stunning light artworks, keeping the city vibrant and festive even after the holiday season.

A ride on the London Eye is another way to keep that festive feeling alive.

London’s iconic observation wheel, resplendent with twinkling lights, offers breathtaking views of the city skyline.

Even in January, it maintains a sense of magic, especially at night!

Check out my guide to visiting London at Christmas by clicking here.

Fewer crowds

Sky garden in London

January is often overlooked as a time to visit London, which, as it turns out, can be quite beneficial!

With fewer tourists meandering the streets, you’ll find a more relaxed pace pervades the city.

In fact, this is the quietest time to visit the British capital. 

Major landmarks such as the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the British Museum and the Imperial War Museum, usually teeming with visitors, are less crowded.

This allows you more time to appreciate these historic sites without feeling rushed or cramped.

Burns Night

Burns Night, observed on January 25th, is a celebration of the life and works of Scottish poet Robert Burns, and in London, this event is welcomed with open arms and hearty appetites.

Traditional Burns suppers are the focal point of the celebration, with venues across the city hosting their own version of this Scottish feast.

Haggis, neeps, and tatties (that’s turnips and potatoes!) are the stars of the menu, with a dram of whisky to toast the hallowed haggis.

Boisdale of Canary Wharf is known for its lively Burns Night festivities.

Here, you can revel in an evening packed with Scottish culture – from the ceremonial haggis procession accompanied by bagpipes to the live performances of Burns’ poetry and songs.

Elsewhere in the city, contemporary restaurants and pop-ups often put their own spin on Burns Supper, offering inventive interpretations of classic Scottish dishes.

Burns Night in London definitely provides a slice of Scottish culture right in the heart of the English capital.

Perfect weather for comfort food

Traditional English pub chicken pot pie

January in London provides an ideal setting to savour some proper British comfort food.

The bracing cold outside makes the toasty interiors of London’s eateries even more inviting.

London’s gastronomic scene is teeming with culinary delights like a classic Shepherd’s Pie, laden with minced meat and topped with fluffy mashed potatoes. It’s a proper winter warmer! 

A bowl of steamy soup in the rustic surroundings of The Soup Kitchen in Soho, or a generous portion of Fish and Chips from Golden Hind in Marylebone, are also excellent ways to stave off the chill.

Another must-try is a classic Sunday Roast, a British staple.

Head to The Harwood Arms in Fulham (a Michelin guide restaurant) for this dish, complete with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings!

For those with a sweet tooth, winter is the perfect excuse to tuck into warm puddings.

The sticky toffee pudding at The Coach in Clerkenwell, with its moist sponge and luscious toffee sauce, is a wonderful way to end a meal (or start one, we won’t judge!).

Lower prices

Visiting London in January has the potential for lower prices.

This month, falling squarely in the travel industry’s ‘off-peak’ period sees a significant drop in the cost of travel and accommodation compared to the frenzied holiday season in December.

Flights to London become substantially more affordable in January, as airlines aim to keep seats filled after the holiday rush.

Accommodation follows a similar pattern.

Hotels, guesthouses, and even popular short-term rental properties often reduce their prices in January to attract visitors.

Plus, London’s theatres, home to world-class performances, often have special January discounts.

Lunar New Year Celebrations

A colourful burst of festivity in the midst of London’s winter, Lunar New Year (which Chinese New Year is a part of) – often occurring towards the end of January, although it depends on the Chinese calendar – adds a lively, culturally rich component to a January visit.

Primarily centred around Chinatown, Leicester Square, and Trafalgar Square, the Lunar New Year celebrations in London claim to be the biggest outside of Asia, due to its large Chinese community – although Sydney and San Francisco also claim to have it too. 

Prepare for a day filled with bold red decorations, powerful lion dances, enthralling martial art performances, and parade floats graced by enchanting zodiac animals!

Chinatown, in particular, becomes a vibrant hub of activity. The streets are adorned with Chinese lanterns and banners, creating an atmosphere of celebration.

Taste the tantalising array of Chinese cuisine on offer, from dim sum and Peking duck to sweet mooncakes. 

Weather in January in London

Dusk light over the River Thames in London in January

While London’s January weather might not win any winter sun contests, there’s a certain charm to its wintery conditions! 

The average temperatures hover around 8°C/ 46.4°F for the high and 2°C/ 35.6°F for the low, meaning it’s chilly but typically not frostbite-inducing cold.

A spot of rain is always on the cards in London, and January is no exception.

Rainfall averages around 50mm across the month, with rain anticipated on approximately 19 days.

That being said, the rain tends to be more of a drizzle than a downpour, so a sturdy umbrella or a water-resistant jacket should suffice for most outings.

You can expect the January days to be quite short, with daylight lasting around eight hours.

Sunrise usually occurs between 7:30 am and 8:00 am and sunset between 4:00 pm and 4:30 pm.

These early sunsets could impact your sightseeing plans!

Does it snow in January in London?

london tower bridge by river thames in snowlondon tower bridge by river thames in snow

Visions of London cloaked in a fresh layer of snow can seem like the perfect winter wonderland fantasy.

The reality, however, is that snow in London, particularly in January, is relatively rare.

When the city does see some snowfall, it tends to be light and doesn’t stick around for very long.

The likelihood of a significant snowfall in London is typically at its highest between January and February – but even then, it’s far from guaranteed.

Even if snow does grace the city, it tends to be more of a light dusting rather than the thick blanket often depicted in holiday films!

On those rare occasions when London does receive a dusting of snow, it provides an enchanting backdrop to the city’s iconic landmarks.

Just remember that, while it’s beautiful, snow in the city can sometimes lead to disruptions in transport, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the weather forecast during your stay.

What to Pack for London in January

Girl in coast standing watching the River Thames

Layering is your best friend when packing for a trip to London in January. The weather can be quite changeable, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for anything from clear, cold days to drizzly ones.

Start with thermal innerwear, such as long-sleeved tops and leggings.

They form a cosy base layer that can make a world of difference in chilly temperatures.

Add on sweaters or jumpers, and a versatile winter coat. If you’re prone to feeling cold, a down jacket can be a great choice.

Next, consider your footwear. Waterproof boots or shoes are highly recommended as London can be rather wet in January.

Ensure they’re comfortable for walking, as you’ll likely spend a lot of time on your feet exploring the city.

A hat, gloves, and scarf are essential accessories. Not only do they keep you warm, but they can be easily removed if you go indoors where it’s heated.

Don’t forget an umbrella, even though you might find yourself battling some stiff British breezes.

Alternatively, many Londoners opt for a sturdy, waterproof jacket with a hood to combat the rain and wind.

Lastly, pack a few smart-casual outfits if you plan on dining out or enjoying London’s theatre scene, as some venues may have a dress code.

Remember, British style tends to be classic rather than overly casual, so when in doubt, it’s better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.

FAQs about visiting London in January 

Streets of London

Is it a good time to visit London in January?

Absolutely – London’s an excellent winter city break! Despite the winter chill, January is an exceptional time to experience London. Attractions are less crowded, and there are unique events, like the New Year’s Day Parade and Burns Night celebrations.

Is London too cold in January?

It can be chilly, with temperatures typically between 2°C and 8°C, but it’s usually manageable with appropriate layers and outerwear. Plus, indoor attractions, cosy pubs, and hot comfort foods make the cold weather quite bearable.

Is London expensive in January?

January can be a more affordable time to visit London, particularly after the holiday peak. Hotels and airfare often offer lower prices, and you can benefit from the January sales for shopping.

Is London worth visiting in winter?

Indeed, it is! Winter in London offers its own unique charm, with festive events continuing into the New Year, winter comfort food, ice skating, and lower crowd levels at popular attractions.

What months have the worst weather in London?

Typically, November to February are the coldest and wettest months. However, London’s weather is known for its unpredictability, so it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before your trip.

What month is London most cold?

The coldest month in London is usually January, in the depths of the winter months, with an average low of 2°C.

What month is snowiest in London?

London doesn’t get a lot of snow, but if it does happen, it’s most likely between December and February.

How do people dress in London in January?

Layers are key for London’s winter weather. Essentials include warm coats, scarves, hats, gloves, and sturdy, waterproof shoes.

How rainy is London in January?

January is in the middle of London’s rainier season, with an average of 21 days seeing some rainfall. However, this is often light rain or drizzle rather than heavy downpours.

What month is best to see London?

Every month offers a unique experience in London. However, many favour the warmer months of May through September, when days are longer, parks are in full bloom, and outdoor activities are plentiful.

Is the UK rainy in January?

Yes, January is one of the rainier months in the UK, including London, but the rain is typically light and manageable.

Should I travel to UK in January?

If you don’t mind colder weather and prefer fewer crowds, then yes! You’ll have the chance to experience unique events, explore attractions more peacefully, and perhaps score a deal on accommodations and flights.

Are you ready to visit London in January?

Historic buildings in London with a bus in front.

Whether you’re spending a couple of days or the whole of January in London, there are plenty of reasons to explore the capital city during this month. 

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