March is the start of spring in the United Kingdom. Temperatures slowly rise, and flowers come into bloom. However, it can be wet and wintery conditions linger, especially in northern England and Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The average spring temperatures in the UK range between 48°F and 59°F (9°C and 15°C). Yet this varies a few degrees from north to south where Edinburgh sees the coldest average of 36°F-48°F (2°C-9°C) and London the warmest at 43°F-54°F (6°C-12°C).
Even though the weather might be cold and wet, the days are getting longer (approximately 4.5 minutes a day), and night doesn't descend as early as it does in winter proper.
Crowds & Costs
March is the low season for travel in the UK. However, if Easter falls in March, many local UK travelers will take school vacations in popular spots, like England's south or east coast towns or country areas. Prices are unlikely to be much different in March from other times in the low season. However, if you're visiting during Easter or St Patrick's day in Belfast, it would be a good idea to book accommodation and transport such as long-distance train tickets in advance.
Where to Go
Although the weather won't necessarily be idyllic, March is a good time to visit the Lake District in Cumbria, northwest England. This national park area of hills and lakes inspired some of England's most famous Romantic poets (think William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge), so experiencing the landscape with a bit of atmospheric mist and drizzle is part of the charm. Plus, literature lovers can catch the Words by the Water festival in Keswick sometime in March (see more below). Or if in Wales, there's Swansea for fans of poet Dylan Thomas, where you can visit his birthplace and favorite watering holes.
If the weather is particularly uncooperative, there are plenty of cultural attractions to discover while taking respite from the weather. London offers an extensive variety of art galleries, museums, and palaces, while Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland's Lowlands have their own assortment of interests, as does Belfast.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Rugby fans, or anyone curious to learn more about one of the most popular sports in the UK, should check out the Rugby Six Nations championship, held in March (and sometimes February). England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Italy are the six nations involved. The games are held in London, Cardiff, and Edinburgh in the UK, and tickets should be bought well in advance. Even if you can't attend a match in person, you'll find groups of fans gathering in pubs around the country to watch alongside.
After a day of bracing the weather at the Unesco-listed Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, hiking rugged trails in the Hebrides in Scotland, or visiting the open-air heritage museum of St Fagans in Wales, why not warm up with a dram of whiskey on a tour or in a pub afterward. While Northern Ireland has 13 distilleries to pick from, Scotland has one hundred more, and Wales has just the one—though the small country does have a 1,000-year-old beer production history.
Events in March
St. David's Day, Wales. Wales' national day on March 1 is not a public holiday, but the Welsh honor it with enthusiasm, with kids wearing Welsh national dress and everyone enjoying Welsh treats like Welsh cakes (somewhat like a flattened raisin scone).
Words by the Water, Keswick, England. Honoring the Lake District's long association with literature, this festival is held over a few days in March (it has been held in early, mid, and late March) and includes readings and other events
St Patrick's Day, Northern Ireland-wide. The official day of Ireland's patron saint is March 17, but events in many towns and cities use this as a pretext for celebrations throughout March. There is something going on everywhere, and a lot of drinking and partying.
Easter, UK-wide. Easter is a national holiday throughout the UK so expect business closures and some restrictions on alcohol purchases over the long weekend. UK residents tend to spend Easter at home with their families or at church if they're religious. You might find Easter fêtes in some towns and villages, where you can buy crafts and food, particularly traditional hot cross buns.
Traveling to the UK in March? Check out these great itineraries
Discover Scotland - 9 Days. With historic cities, quaint towns and villages, beautiful countryside, and some of the best whiskey distilleries in the world, Scotland makes for a wonderfully diverse and relaxing vacation.
Culinary Tour of Wales - 5 Days. Discover Wales' vibrant cuisine, from biodynamic wineries to fresh seafood, while learning about Wales' rich and dramatic prehistoric, Roman, and medieval history.
Experience London, Windsor Castle, and the White Cliffs of Dover - 6 Days. This tour covers the key London experiences, as well as popular day tours to Kent, The White Cliffs of Dover, and Windsor Castle.
Northern Ireland Self-Drive Adventure - 10 Days. Looking for a trip to Ireland that mixes culture and history with outdoor adventure? This ten-day road trip has it all. Kick off in Dublin and drive north to Northern Ireland.