15 top things to do in the UK in February (2024 guide)

Are you off to the UK in February? 

While this winter month is far out of the peak season to explore the UK, there’s plenty going on!

You’ll find end-of-winter festivals, Valentine’s Day events and Shrove Tuesday activities. 

There’s also the chance to enjoy cooler weather – especially in the Scottish Highlands – and there’s a chance of snow all over the country.

So, what to do in the UK in February? I’m from the UK, and here are my favourite February festivals, celebrations and things to do.

What to do in the UK in February

From Valentine’s Day celebrations in the UK to where to celebrate Lunar New Year in England, here are my top local attractions and activities!

1. Celebrate the Lunar New Year in London 

10th February 2024

London’s Lunar New Year celebration is a vibrant and inclusive event, welcoming the East Asian New Year with a blend of traditional and contemporary festivities. 

As you walk through the streets of Chinatown, one of the largest in Europe, red lanterns sway above and the sounds of music and laughter fill the air. 

The main event is the grand parade, featuring colourful dragons and lions dancing to the beat of drums, a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

At Trafalgar Square, you can witness spectacular stage performances showcasing Chinese dance, music, and martial arts. 

The array of food stalls offers you a chance to savour authentic Chinese cuisine, with mouth-watering dishes like dumplings, Peking duck, and sweet rice balls.

Family-friendly activities are abundant, with calligraphy workshops, traditional craft sessions, and storytelling that introduce you to the rich cultural heritage of Asia. 

2. Jorvik Viking Festival in York

12th – 18th February 2024

Each February, York takes a step back to its Viking roots with the Jorvik Viking Festival

This immersive event brings history to life; you’ll journey into the world of the Norsemen who once ruled the city. 

Artisans display their crafts, showcasing skills like blacksmithing and leatherworking, giving you a glimpse into Viking daily life.

A key highlight is the reenactments, where skilled actors in authentic Viking attire engage in fierce battles and demonstrate the art of ancient warfare. 

Interactive workshops and talks provide a deeper understanding of Viking history and culture. 

You can participate in activities like archery, coin minting, and even learn about Norse mythology. 

The Viking camp is a must-visit, where you can interact with the ‘Vikings,’ ask questions, and observe their way of life.

The festival culminates in a dramatic finale, often featuring a torch-lit parade and a boat burning, a nod to the traditional Norse funeral.

3. Scottish Snowdrop Festival

Throughout February

The Scottish Snowdrop Festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. 

From early February to March, various gardens and woodlands across Scotland open their gates to reveal a stunning display of delicate white snowdrops. 

You’re invited to stroll through historic estates, private gardens, and scenic woodlands. 

The festival even includes gardens that are not typically open to the public!

Some venues even host guided walks, talks, and workshops, enhancing your understanding and appreciation of these resilient flowers.

4. Dark Skies Festival in North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales

9th – 25th February 2024

The Dark Skies Festival is a celebration of the stunning night skies in the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks.

 These areas, known for their minimal light pollution, offer some of the best stargazing opportunities in the UK.

During the February festival, you have the chance to gaze at the stars, planets, and galaxies through telescopes, guided by experts who share fascinating insights into the cosmos. 

The event features a variety of activities suitable for all ages, including night sky photography workshops, where you can learn how to capture the beauty of the celestial canopy.

Family-friendly events, such as storytelling sessions under the stars and planetarium shows, make the festival an ideal outing for those with children.

5. Attend the Bath Bachfest, Bath

15th – 17th February 2024

The Bath Bachfest is a classical music festival held annually, celebrating the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries. 

Set in the historic city of Bath, renowned for its Roman-built baths and Georgian architecture, the festival is an idyllic backdrop for music enthusiasts.

The festival’s program encompasses a carefully curated selection of concerts, with performances by world-class musicians and ensembles. 

You’ll have the opportunity to hear Bach’s compositions, ranging from intimate chamber music to grand orchestral pieces, in some of Bath’s most beautiful venues, including Bath Abbey and the Assembly Rooms.

One of the unique aspects of the Bath Bachfest is the focus on authentic performance practices. 

Many of the musicians specialize in Baroque music and play period instruments, offering you a chance to experience the music as it would have sounded in Bach’s time!

The festival often includes educational talks and masterclasses, where you can gain insights into Bach’s life, his influence on music, and the historical context of his work. 

6. Kew Gardens’ Orchid Festival, London

3rd February – 3rd March 2024

Explore stunning orchids at the Orchid Festival at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Kew Gardens, with its expansive collection of plants from around the world, becomes a tropical paradise during the festival!

As you enter the Princess of Wales Conservatory, you’re greeted by a dazzling display of orchids in all shapes, sizes, and colours. 

The festival’s theme changes each year, often inspired by a specific country or region.

The carefully designed displays not only highlight the beauty of orchids but also educate you about their ecological importance and Kew’s conservation work. 

You can marvel at the intricate designs, featuring orchids arranged in artistic installations, such as cascading waterfalls, arches, and sculptures.

Interactive workshops and talks are available, giving you the chance to learn more about orchid care, their natural habitats, and the challenges they face in the wild. 

The festival is a feast for the senses, with the vivid colours and delicate fragrances of the orchids creating an enchanting atmosphere.

7. Valentine’s at the Natural History Museum, London

On 14 February 2024, the Natural History Museum in South Kensington becomes a romantic evening venue for its special Valentine’s event!

Perfect for couples and individuals alike, this event invites you to explore the wonders of the natural world in an intimate setting!

As you wander through the museum galleries after hours, enjoy a complimentary beer, wine, or soft drink. The museum’s vast collection, from ancient fossils to exotic specimens, is a fascinating backdrop for a night of discovery and romance.

The event offers a variety of activities to make your evening even more memorable. 

Dance classes add a fun and interactive element to the night – you and your partner can sway together amidst the museum’s exhibits. 

There’s even a harpist playing by the stegosaurus! 

Expect a photobooth to grab a keepsake!

Your ticket also grants you admission to the world-famous Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. 

8. Take a Whisky Tasting Tour in Scotland

Glass of whiskey in the old cellar

Embark on a whisky-tasting tour in Scotland in February!

As you journey through Scotland’s whisky regions, you’re greeted by the warm hospitality of local distilleries, each with its own distinct character and flavour profiles.

The tours boast an in-depth look into the whisky-making process, from malting and mashing to fermentation and ageing. 

You’ll learn about the importance of terroir, the influence of cask types, and the art of blending. 

Tasting sessions mean you can sample a variety of whiskies, including single malts and blends, under the guidance of knowledgeable distillers or guides. 

These tastings often include rare and aged expressions, offering a sensory journey through Scotland’s liquid gold.

Scotland’s whisky regions, such as Speyside, Islay, the Highlands, and the Lowlands, each have different distilleries. 

Speyside is known for its sweet and fruity whiskies, Islay for its peaty and smoky flavours, the Highlands for its diversity, and the Lowlands for lighter, more floral drams. 

9. Attend the Leicester Comedy Festival

Aerial photo of the city centre of Leicester in the UK showing houses and apartment building on a sunny summers day

7th – 25th February 2024

The Leicester Comedy Festival is one of the UK’s longest-running and most diverse comedy events. 

As you immerse yourself in this festival, you’ll experience a broad spectrum of comedic talent, from well-established stars to emerging comedians.

The festival’s lineup includes a mix of stand-up, sketch shows, improv, and spoken word. 

One of the unique aspects of the Leicester Comedy Festival is its commitment to nurturing new talent. 

The festival includes competitions and showcases for up-and-coming comedians, giving you a chance to discover the next big names in comedy. These shows are often more intimate.

In addition to the performances, the festival often features comedy-related workshops, Q&A sessions with comedians, and panel discussions. 

These events provide insights into the creative process behind comedy and the industry as a whole.

10. Shetland Fire Festivals

Up helly aa traditional viking fire festival on Shetland men marching with torches

Throughout February

The Shetland Fire Festivals, held throughout the winter months, are a spectacular display of tradition and community spirit unique to the Shetland Islands. 

The most famous of these is Up Helly Aa, celebrated in Lerwick and other towns. They honour the islands’ Viking heritage.

As you attend these festivals, you’ll be transported into a world of Norse legends and traditions. 

The festivals encompass a series of torch-lit processions, where participants, known as guizers, dress in elaborate costumes, often inspired by Viking warriors or mythical figures.

 The sight of hundreds of torchbearers marching through the dark, winter streets is a mesmerising and almost otherworldly atmosphere.

The climax of the festival is the burning of a Viking longship. 

The guizers circle the meticulously crafted galley, singing traditional songs before setting it ablaze with their torches. 

This dramatic spectacle is a symbolic farewell to the darker winter months and a welcome to the returning light.

Alongside the main event, the festivals include a variety of performances, dances, and community gatherings, where you can experience the warmth and hospitality of the Shetland people. 

11. Inter-Livery Pancake Race at Guildhall Yard, London

13th February 2024

The Inter-Livery Pancake Race, held annually on Shrove Tuesday, is a unique and entertaining event set in the heart of London’s historic financial district. 

On 13 February, from 11:30am to 3:00pm, members of the ancient Liveries of London, dressed in their full regalia, compete in this pancake-flipping race!

As you join the crowds at Guildhall Yard, you’re treated to a spectacle of tradition and friendly competition. The race is organized by the Poulters’ Company, historically egg suppliers, and features participants from various Liveries. 

The Clockmakers time the race, the Gunmakers fire the starting pistol, and the Glovers provide the white gloves worn by the racers. Additionally, the Fruiterers contribute lemons, and the Cutlers supply the forks!

The event is lighthearted and fun, with 30 teams competing in their traditional attire. The goal is not just to run the fastest but to skillfully flip pancakes in a frying pan while doing so. 

The highlight is the presentation of the coveted frying pan trophy to the winning team!

12. Soak in Bath Thermae Spa

Bath, known for its historic Roman-built baths, is home to the Thermae Bath Spa – the only natural thermal spa in Britain!

Visiting the spa is a must-do experience in the winter – here you’ll enjoy a blend of the city’s ancient heritage and modern luxury. The naturally warm, mineral-rich waters are a relaxing and rejuvenating soak, perfect for unwinding and revitalizing.

The spa features a range of facilities, including the Minerva Bath, named after the Roman goddess of health and wisdom. 

This large thermal pool, with its gentle currents and massage jets, invites you to relax and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the waters. 

The highlight is the open-air rooftop pool, where you can soak in the warm waters while enjoying panoramic views of the historic city and the surrounding hills.

Additional spa facilities include a series of steam rooms infused with aromatic essences, a refreshing ice chamber, and the Wellness Suite, offering a variety of relaxation experiences. 

For a complete indulgence, you can opt for a spa treatment, such as a massage or a facial, using natural and locally sourced products.

Soaking in the Bath Thermae Spa is an opportunity to connect with Bath’s rich history. 

13. Enjoy a Staycation with No Crowds in Cornwall

Cornwall, with its rugged coastline, sandy beaches, and charming villages, is a wonderful destination for a staycation, especially in the quieter months! It’s one of my favourite places in England in winter.

Without the summer crowds, you can explore Cornwall’s natural beauty and cultural attractions at a leisurely pace.

The coastline boasts breathtaking scenery, with dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and picturesque harbours. 

Take coastal walks, visit historic lighthouses, and discover hidden beaches – you’ll often have these stunning landscapes all to yourself!

The South West Coast Path encompasses miles of scenic trails.

Cornwall’s towns and villages, such as St. Ives, Padstow, and Falmouth, are full of character and charm. 

In the off-season, wander the narrow streets, visit local art galleries, and enjoy fresh seafood at cosy restaurants without the wait. 

Visiting Cornwall’s gardens and estates, such as the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project, is wonderfully serene in February. 

14. Explore London’s Historic Attractions in the Off-Season

London symbols with BIG BEN, DOUBLE DECKER BUSES and Red Phone Booth in England, UK

Visit London’s historic attractions during the off-season and experience the city’s rich heritage without the usual crowds! 

This quieter period is ideal for seeing landmarks and museums.

Iconic sites like the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament are steeped in history and showcase fascinating insights into London’s past. 

With fewer tourists, you’ll have the opportunity to take your time, absorbing the details and stories that make these places special. 

Guided tours at these attractions are often more personal and informative in the off-season.

London’s world-class museums, such as the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Natural History Museum, are brimming with art, history, and science and are ideal for chilly February days.

During the quieter months, you can explore the exhibits at your own pace, taking in the vast collections without feeling rushed!

Strolling through London’s historic neighbourhoods, like Covent Garden, Soho, and Greenwich, is a delightful experience when the streets are less crowded. 

15. Go Skiing in Scotland 

Scotland boasts plenty of skiing opportunities, especially in the Cairngorms, the Nevis Range, and Glenshee.

These ski resorts provide a range of slopes suitable for beginners, intermediates, and advanced skiers.

The Cairngorms National Park is home to the Cairngorm Mountain Resort which is known for its picturesque setting and reliable snow conditions. The resort showcases a variety of runs, a ski school for beginners, and equipment rentals, making it an ideal destination for a winter sports getaway!

The Nevis Range, near Fort William, boasts the highest ski area in Scotland and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and lochs.

The resort caters to all levels, with gentle slopes for beginners and challenging off-piste areas for experienced skiers.

Glenshee, Scotland’s largest ski resort, spans four mountains and three valleys, offering an extensive network of runs. 

The resort is known for its varied terrain, making it a popular choice for both families and seasoned skiers.

Skiing in Scotland is weather-dependent, with the best conditions typically from January to March. It’s not always guaranteed to be open or skiable in February, but it’s possible.

Now you know the best UK February travel tips and hacks!

While the UK isn’t at its busiest in February, there’s still plenty to do.

Hopefully, this article’s helped with your inspiration. Enjoy the UK in February!

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