England is deep in winter this month when days tend to be cold, gray, and damp. On the cheerful side, the country has a more moderate season than other countries in northern Europe. For instance, average temperatures in the nation's capital, London, typically reach daily highs of 48°F (9°C) while lows usually stay above freezing at 41°F (5°C).
You might get minor variations depending on where you travel. Cities like Manchester and Newcastle in the north, closer to the border of Scotland, tend to be a few degrees colder. At the same time, the southwest tip, along the Cornwall Peninsula, will likely feel milder than the rest of the country due to its proximity to the Gulf Stream, which brings in warm currents from the tropics. Shortening daylight hours are also a consideration, but they are gaining steam with close to 11 hours between sunrise and sunset by the end of the month.
It's hard to predict the fickle English weather, and it can change at a moment's notice, especially when factoring in the distinct wind patterns. It's wise to pack layers, a thick winter jacket, gloves and a hat, and a solid brolly (umbrella). You might even get a pretty snowfall, though it's far less common than rain.
Crowds & Costs
February in England is the low season when visitors can expect off-peak pricing for flights, car rentals, and accommodations. Another perk of traveling this month is that there are fewer tourists at the museums, popular attractions, and guided tours compared to the months to come. If you're exploring the countryside, keep in mind that some hotels and attractions may close for the winter season. Also, keep an eye out for the week of the UK school system's half-term break, when there will likely be an uptick in crowds and prices.
Where to Go
The nation of England—part of the United Kingdom—draws millions of visitors each year and most enter through one of Europe's busiest airports: London's Heathrow. Whether it's your first or fifteenth visit, a trip to England isn't complete without some time in the exciting, cosmopolitan city on the Thames River. Spend a few days or more exploring any or all of the 32 boroughs using public transportation, particularly the London Underground or Tube and the iconic red buses that offer a view of street life, especially from the front seat on the top deck.
There's more to England than London, and it can be hard to decide where else to visit, especially in winter. You could easily spend a few nights visiting one or more of the northern cities of Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and York. Alternatively, make your home base London and tack on a day trip to Bath, Oxford, or Cambridge, where you can take a tour and have lunch before returning to London in time for dinner (trains to all three are less than 90 minutes each way).
If you have more time to spend and want the freedom of having a car, don't let the winter season deter you. February is a quiet month to enjoy peaceful country roads allowing you to stop at your own pace. For example, it's easy to fall in love with the Cotswolds in any season. There's much to explore in this enormous area, taking up several counties in England with endless rolling hills, thatched cottages, some of the country's quaintest country homes, and castles and palaces, including one where Winston Churchill was born.
Another option is to travel southwest to Dorset along the English Channel to experience the UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast, a stunning 95-mile (153 km) stretch that offers unique rock formations and fossils. Or, drive even further southwest to the rugged county of Cornwall, the UK's surf capital, which boasts the country's longest stretch of coastline with hundreds of beaches, cliff walks, and impressive winter swells for experienced surfers.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
The unpredictable winter weather is a great time to dedicate to England's cities, where you can explore up-and-coming central areas while stopping for cultural activities and afternoon tea. Manchester offers a handful of mostly-free museums, including an art gallery, a science museum, and even a National Football Museum. Fans of the sport can buy tickets to a Manchester United match at the Old Trafford stadium—there are matches in February.
Similar in size (the two are often called England's second cities), Birmingham offers a young and creative vibe with more canals than Venice. Bundle up and take a long walk or bike ride along the waterways, and then visit the city's impressive dining scene with several Michelin-starred options. A day trip from Birmingham is Stratford-upon-Avon, best known as the 16th-century home of William Shakespeare. You can spend a day touring several houses and a school attached to the writer and his wife, Anne Hathaway.
Though it's cold, active travelers have options for getting into nature with coastal walks and country paths all over England. One of the long-distance trails is the 102-mile (164-km) Cotswold Way, with dramatic hills perfect for walking and horseback riding if the weather holds. Or hike a portion of the South West Coast Path, one of England's most famous trails with spectacular coastal scenery loaded with picturesque beaches.
Indoor gardens can provide a respite from the cold. If in Cornwall, spend a day at the Eden Project, one of the world's largest greenhouses with various biomes dedicated to different geographies, including North America, Chile, and the Mediterranean. In London, you can take a train to Richmond's Royal Botanical Gardens (or Kew Gardens) and see the vibrant display of blooms at the annual orchid festival taking place each February.
Events in February
Orchid Festival, Richmond. You can find this annual festival dedicated to orchids at Kew Garden's Princess of Wales Conservatory, just outside of London, from early February through early March.
Chinese New Year, London and Manchester. Depending on the year, the Chinese New Year may fall in late January or early February. Look for festive parades and lively street fairs in England's two main Chinatown areas in London and Manchester.
Shrove Tuesday, nationwide. Look for a range of unique events in the cities celebrating the last day before Lent begins.
BookFest, Portsmouth. The annual festival on the south coast features readings from authors, events, and celebrations.
JORVIK Viking Festival, York. This northeast city is home to the largest Viking affair in Europe with a wide range of events, including discussions and reenactments.
Traveling to England in February? Check out these great itineraries
Shakespeare in Love Tour - 9 Days. This multi-city "Shakespeare in Love" tour takes you to the towns and cities that shaped William Shakespeare's career, including London, Stratford-upon-Avon, and the romantic Cotswolds.
English Premier League (EPL) Soccer Vacation - 9 Days. This English Premier League (EPL) soccer vacation puts you right in the action in two of the UK's top sporting cities, and as a kicker, we'll even throw in a stadium tour.