London doesn’t hibernate in winter – the fun just moves indoors to theatres, clubs and restaurants – but the arrival of spring definitely witnesses a change of pace in the city. April’s sweet showers herald the start of warmer weather and a host of outdoor events that see Londoners and visitors alike shedding their sweaters and enjoying the longer days.

Spring flowers such as tulips in front of Buckingham Palace.
Flowers in front of Buckingham Palace are a clear sign of spring's arrival © Charles Bowman / Getty Images

Parks, gardens & architectural gems

London’s green spaces look their best in spring. Everybody’s favourite floral indicator of the change in season is the daffodil, and the best places to see them are St James’s Park and Green Park, where hundreds of these yellow flowers cover the lawns. By the time the daffodils have faded, roses have taken their place, with the rose gardens in Regent’s Park and Greenwich Park the perfect spots to treat your eyes and nose.

The world’s greatest botanical gardens, at Kew, are worth a visit at any time of year, but spring is when the bluebells bloom, and over the Easter period the Gardens host an Easter egg hunt and chocolate-themed events.

Bluebells lining a path at Kew Gardens.
Stroll among the bluebells at Kew Gardens © Getty Images

The London Wetland Centre is a hub of activity in spring as chicks hatch from their eggs to the delight of ornithologists and people who like cute baby birds. The centre also has guided tours and resident otter-observing sessions.

Many of London’s historical properties reopen their doors around Easter after being closed for the winter. Beautiful Ham House in southwest London is a perfect example of early 17th-century house design, while 2 Willow Road in Hampstead showcases the work of Modernist architect Ernö Goldfinger.

Ham Houses 400-year-old facade in the sunshine
Explore four hundred years of history at Ham House © Fsamora / Getty Images

Sports & activities

Getting around London by bike might not seem the obvious way to travel in such a busy city, but if the spring weather is behaving itself and you fancy actually seeing the sights rather than travelling beneath them on the tube, renting a city bike is an enjoyable way of getting around. Pick-up/drop-off stations are found all over London, you can hire using just your bank card, and if you plot your route to follow the parks and River Thames you can cross from one side of the city to the other avoiding most of the traffic.

The London Marathon is held in the capital every April (28 April in 2019). The world’s biggest fundraising event starts in Greenwich Park, before wending its way past London’s most famous sights until it reaches the finish line on the Mall near Buckingham Palace. Thousands of runners take part, and you can join the many loud and enthusiastic spectators lining the streets.

Runners pass the Houses of Parliament during the London Marathon.
Sign up to run yourself or just cheer the competitors along at the London Marathon © Ms Jane Campbell / Shutterstock

Another big crowd pleaser is the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race along the Thames, from Putney to Mortlake. The two university teams have been battling it out since 1829 and supporters flock to the river banks to watch the drama – the 2019 race happens on 7 April. After the action, you can retire to one of the busy local pubs to argue the merits of both teams.

For an alternative way of getting out on the water (with no rowing involved) jump on a Thames Clipper commuter ferry and enjoy a duck’s-eye view of the city’s skyline. It’s worth sitting outside and having your camera ready to snap top riverside attractions like the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and the Tower of London.

A Thames Clipper boat passes St Paul's Cathedral.
Play spot the famous sight on a Clipper ride along the Thames © Tony Baggett / Getty Images

Festivals & events

The highlight of the year for Britain’s keen gardeners (and there are many) is the spectacular Chelsea Flower Show, held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital towards the end of May (21-25 May in 2019 to be precise).

One of the garden displays at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Enjoy some flower power at the wonderful Chelsea Flower Show © Colin Leftley / Getty Images

If culture rather than chrysanthemums is your thing, check out the Museums at Night festival (15-18 May in 2019, as well as 31 October-2 November), which sees evening events at many of London’s top museums and galleries, including the London Transport Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Outdoor theatre

Since opening in 1997, Shakespeare’s Globe on the South Bank has proved incredibly popular; the season always starts on the Bard’s birthday on 23 April and runs to the middle of October. 2019 kicks off with Henry IV Part 1, followed by Henry VI Part 2 (from 25 April), Henry V (from 30 April), The Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night (from 4 May). For plays later in the summer, check the full summer season lineup.

The outside of the Globe Theatre on London's South Bank.
See one of Shakespeare's plays performed (almost) on the spot where they were originally staged © Eric Nathan / Getty Images

Another weather-defying venue that opens its doors in spring is the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park. This year’s shows include Our Town (16 May-8 June), Hansel and Gretel (14-22 June), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (28 June-27 July) and Evita (2 August-21 September).

Updated by Will Jones in February 2019.

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