February is midwinter in the United Kingdom, but the days are slowly getting longer (the shortest day is in late December), and at the end of the month in southern England, the first signs of spring might be starting to appear. Plus, the UK isn't as cold in the winter as its northern latitude might suggest, thanks to the Atlantic Gulf Stream that warms the oceans.
Average winter temperatures are between 32°F and 44°F (0°C and 7°C), although these vary slightly from north to south, as do the hours of daylight. London, for example, averages 41°F-48°F (5°C-9°C) and receives 10 hours of daylight, while Edinburgh averages 34°F-45°F (1°C-7°C) and receives over 10.5 daylight hours by the end of the month. Snow is uncommon except in the mountains, like the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia in Wales and further north in Scotland, although it's possible in southern and central areas in February.
Regardless of where you travel in the UK, come prepared for all kinds of weather since it can change from day to day. Pack warm, waterproof layers, a hat and gloves, thick socks, and sturdy footwear to keep your feet dry. If heading out of doors, consider sporting thermal underwear.
Crowds & Costs
February is the low season for travel throughout the UK, as is the whole of winter. Major cities like London and Edinburgh have visitors throughout the year, but you're unlikely to encounter crowds anywhere in February. Accommodation in popular places will be more readily available than in the peak summer season, although accommodation and opening hours might be limited in some smaller places.
Some lesser-known tourist attractions are only open on the weekends in winter, so check opening hours if you have a niche interest you want to satisfy in the UK in February.
Where to Go
Stick to the main towns and cities if traveling to the United Kindom this month. Major galleries, museums, and other attractions remain open. London is a great winter destination because there is an extensive range of attractions to explore by day—the National Gallery, the Tate and Tate Modern, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tower of London, etc.—and retreat to cozy restaurants and pubs at night. Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast are similarly good options for January travel in other parts of the UK.
To experience the largest Viking festival in Europe, head to the historic northern English city of York at the end of February for the Jorvik Viking Festival (see more below). York is also an appealing destination outside of this festival, with its Roman ruins and medieval architecture, and other evidence of its long significant place in English history.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
If you like getting outdoors in the crisp winter weather and cozying up with a glass (or two) of Scotch whisky in the evening, head to the Scottish Highlands in February. You might even see the Aurora borealis (Northern Lights), best seen in Scotland between November and February. While cold, February nights are often clear, making conditions ideal for stargazing and aurora spotting, followed by whiskey drinking. There are also the Dark Sky Reserves in Wales' Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia to consider.
If the sun's out, head to the coast for an invigorating walk, such as a stretch of Northern Ireland's Causeway Coast, particularly dramatic and wild at this time of year. Or, in Wales, venture to the cliff-rimmed beaches and coastal trails of Pembrokeshire, Gower, and the Llŷn Peninsula. And if you're a skilled surfer, make like the locals, dawn a wetsuit and get yourself to the coasts of Gower, Pembrokeshire, and Anglesey.
Events in February
Portsmouth BookFest, Portsmouth, England. Many of the UK's best-known and loved authors head to the southern English city of Portsmouth in mid-late February (sometimes spanning into March) for this literary event.
Jorvik Viking Festival, York, England. This festival attracts people from all over the UK and Europe to its Viking reenactments, markets, and informative talks in the ancient Roman city of York in late February.
Shrove Tuesday, UK-wide. Shrove Tuesday (dates dependent upon Easter) is commonly known as Pancake Day in the UK, the day when it's customary to use up the last odds and ends in the kitchen before the start of Lent (and turn them into pancakes, naturally). Prepare pancakes at home, order them at a café, or join the Olney Pancake Day Race in Buckinghamshire, a tradition from the 15th century.
Fort William Mountain Festival, Lochaber, Scotland. This special annual festival takes place on the west coast of Scotland in Fort William (dubbed the outdoor capital of the UK). It offers a busy five-day schedule with speakers, workshops, and plenty of films celebrating the mountains and outdoor activities.
Welsh Language Music Day, Cardiff, Wales. In early February, Cardiff reverberates to gigs and live performances.
Croeso, Swansea, Wales. Croeso means ‘welcome’ in Welsh, and all are welcome at Swansea’s two-day festival in late February, an ode to Welsh food and drink, crafts, music, and poetry.
Traveling to the UK in February? Check out these great itineraries
Winter in the Scottish Highlands - 6 Days. Surrounded by frozen lochs and ancient pine forests, you'll settle into a wonderland of scenic treks, wildlife watching, whiskey tasting, and cozy fireside evenings in the Scottish Highlands.
Welsh History & Culture - 7 Days. Learn about Tudor history and the complex relationship between Wales and England as you tour the region and its many castles, museums, and monuments.
Cultural & Literary Tour of Bath, the Cotswolds & Oxford - 7 Days. If you're a Shakespeare lover, a Jane Austen enthusiast, or a Harry Potter fan, this weeklong tour around England is perfect for you.