April is a month full of color, festivals and lots of things to see and do in London. After the harsh winters in the United Kingdom, people welcome the spring weather and the parks and streets of the English capital are full of life. The fourth month of the year also coincides with several of the most important events and festivals such as Easter or the festivities of the patron saint of England, St. George.
Sport also takes center stage. April is the month chosen for two of the major sporting events of the year: the London Marathon and the historic Oxford versus Cambridge regatta.
The arrival of good weather also opens up the possibility of doing activities that would be unfeasible in the cold and rainy winter. For example, enjoy the famous and traditional five o'clock tea on a terrace or sail the Thames on one of its dinner cruises. If you want to know what to do and what to see in London in April I share with you the best options below.
1. Experience Easter Week firsthand with live theater at Trafalgar Square
In most western countries Easter is one of the most important celebrations and England is no exception. This week is one of the biggest festive periods of the year in London so Londoners take to the streets. Although in essence it is celebrated the same as in Spain there are some differences.
For example in the London Holy Week is not celebrated on Holy Thursday, but instead they have Easter Monday, a tradition that is not in force in our country. Both Good Friday and Easter Monday are working holidays in the city.
There are endless activities during that week and the most outstanding is the representation of the Passion of Christ in Trafalgar Square. Every Good Friday there is an outdoor performance in which actors and volunteers represent the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is a free show that lasts half an hour and is repeated twice at 12:00 and 15:15.
Another attraction is the traditional dances typical of Holy Week. In several places in London there are performances of Morris dancing, a traditional medieval dance very typical of the festivities of this week and in which elements such as swords, bells and sticks are used during the choreography. Gastronomy also has a special place in these dates. Special dishes are prepared such as Hot Cross Buns, hot buns, or Simnel cake which is a fruit and marzipan cake.
2. Search for Easter eggs
Although it is part of Easter week, the traditional Easter egg hunt deserves a separate mention. It is an activity that will be especially enjoyed by those traveling to London with children. According to tradition, on Easter Sunday, Easter eggs are prepared and decorated and then hidden so that during Easter Monday the children can dedicate themselves to finding them. Numerous activities are organized around it, highly recommended if you are traveling with children.
It is very typical in London to give chocolate eggs during Easter, so London bakeries sell chocolate eggs in a thousand different shapes and decorations. In Spain we do not have this tradition so deeply rooted so discover and enjoy it in London is a highly recommended experience.
3. Savor tradition with five o'clock tea
Is there anything more British than having five o'clock tea? Surely not. If you want to become a Londoner, tea with pastries and cakes is a must if you travel to London. April is a special month for it. With the arrival of spring the typical tea rooms move to the terraces and it is a luxury to savor the tradition with the good weather accompanying. In London there are endless places to have tea, but I share with you some of the most emblematic:
One of the institutions par excellence when it comes to five o'clocktea. Such is its fame that you have to book weeks in advance and there are daily shifts at 11:30, 13:30, 15:30, 17:30 and 19:30. You can choose between tasting tea and sweets in their elegant lounge or on their spectacular terrace. I warn you, however, that the Ritz London is not exactly cheap, about 75 pounds per person which in exchange are more than 80 euros, and that it is required to be well dressed.
Fortnum and Mason
A mid-priced option is the Fortnum and Mason department store. Located in Piccadilly Street, inside it houses several cafes for tea. The most recommended is Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon located on the fourth floor. In addition to tasting tea you also have stores to buy products related to this tradition. It is said that these stores are the ones that supplied tea to the Queen of England.
Bea's of Bloomsbury
If you want to go for the economical Bea's of Bloomsbury chain has shops all over London. Very well decorated and with a wide variety of teas and accompaniments it is one of the best value for money options in London. Of course in London there are thousands of alternatives to enjoy the tradition of five o'clock tea and for all budgets and tastes.
4. Enjoy St. George's Day festivities
On April 23rd England celebrates the feast in honor of its patron saint, St. George. A figure with more legend than history but of great importance for the English. According to the myth, St. George was a knight whose fame was achieved by freeing a princess from a dragon. Legend or myth, but the truth is that St. George existed and somehow inspired the English to such an extent that they made him their patron saint.
In connection with the feast of the patron saint, London organizes a great celebration in his honor. Every April 23 Trafalgar Square is decorated with white and red colors, for the flag of England, and hosts numerous free activities, food stalls and music. All with a medieval theme in honor of St Gorge's Day.
5. Celebrate book day in honor of Shakespeare
April 23rd is also Book Day, and it is celebrated in part because it is the date of the death of one of the most important English authors in history, William Shakespeare. For this reason, activities related to literature are also organized in Trafalgar Square and in bookstores all over London.
If the stalls set up in Trafalgar Square are not enough for you, you can visit some of the most relevant bookstores in London. I recommend Daunt Books, an old bookstore from 1912 that besides its valuable collection stands out for its architecture and decoration. It is located near Baker Street station less than 10 minutes walk. I leave you an article about the London Underground so you know how to move around the main transport of the city.
6. Participate or cheer at the London Marathon
As I mentioned before, April is the month chosen for two of the biggest sporting events of the year in the English capital. One of them is the London Marathon. It has been held since 1981 and is part of the World Marathon Majors, the competition that brings together the six major marathons in the world along with New York, Chicago, Boston, Berlin and Tokyo.
Each year around 40,000 runners participate in the race, trying to complete the 42 kilometers of the marathon. The race passes through some of the most emblematic places in London such as the Tower of London, the London Eye, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. The finish line is located on The Mall next to St. James's Palace.
If you are a prepared athlete you can not miss the appointment and if not, you can always come to cheer the participants and enjoy the joint activities organized by the sponsors. It is worth remembering that the proceeds from the London Marathon go to charity.
7. Experience the historic Oxford vs. Cambridge Regatta
The other major sporting event in April is the historic regatta pitting Oxford against Cambridge. One of the oldest sporting events in the world, the most important rowing competition and one of the most historic rivalries in the history of the sport. The race pits the rowing teams of Oxford and Cambridge universities against each other on the waters of the Thames. It runs between two London boroughs Montlake and Putney for 6779 meters and more than 250,000 people throng the banks of the river to watch the race.
It is usually held in early April and if you happen to be in London you have to get close to the Thames. There are many spots on both banks of the river to watch the race, but some of the best are: Putney Bridge, Putney Pier and Bishop's Park to watch the start of the race, Craven Cottage, Fulham FC Stadium and Hammersmith Bridge in the middle reaches, and Chiswick Bridge to watch the finish.
8. Celebrate the Queen of England's birthday
As you may know, the English feel special devotion for the monarchy and especially for the Queen of England. So much so that they celebrate Elizabeth II's birthday as if it were a national holiday. Although the monarch herself prefers to celebrate it in June, the date of her birthday is April 21.
The main symbol of the celebration is the salute of the cannons. This English tradition is done on special dates such as births of the royal family, openings of parliament, visits of heads of state and of course the birthday of the queen and members of the royal family.
On those dates the cannons fire into the air from different emblematic places in London. In Hyde Park, one of the best parks in London, they fire 41 times and 62 from the Tower of London. You can freely approach both points to see the spectacle. The cannon fire does not come alone and is accompanied by a military parade through central London known as Trooping the Colours.
9. Sail the waters of the Thames
You can see London in a thousand ways but one of the most relaxing and interesting is to do it with a cruise on the Thames. The good temperature in April makes it an ideal month to see some of London's monuments while cruising the waters.
This type of cruise is usually taken from Westminster Pier next to Big Ben and there are two lines available, the blue and the pink. The blue one is longer, lasting 1 hour, and you can see Big Ben, the London Eye, St. Paul's Cathedral and pass under the Tower of London Bridge among other places.
The pink one lasts only half an hour and condenses the most important monuments. You can combine both routes with an unlimited voucher called River Pass that allows you to do both routes as many times as you want in the same day. The prices of the Thames cruises range from 8 euros to 20 euros approximately.
The cruises have outdoor lounges to take advantage of clear days and air-conditioned rooms for colder days, plus bathrooms and even some with on-board cafe to enjoy the views with your favorite drink.
10. Museum route for cloudy days
Even in April, rain tends to appear in London more often than we would like. For those days when you don't feel like being outdoors, visiting London's museums is always a good idea. Most of them are free and there are museums in London for all interests.
The British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the National Gallery, Madame Tussauds wax museum. All of them are among the best museums in the world in their respective areas. Visiting them all in one day is almost impossible if you want to enjoy them well. If you have to choose, my recommendation is to prioritize the British Museum or the Natural History Museum if you go with children. Both are two sure hits.
London Weather in April
Spring in London and the temperatures are much more pleasant than in the winter months. However, London is still a city where the cold and rain never really go away. Temperatures are usually between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius on average with highs in the upper 20s. Lows are still cold, averaging between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius, but in April it is harder to get close to 0 degrees Celsius.
Rain is always present as it can not be otherwise in London, but its frequency decreases. It rains more or less 50% of the days in April. But you have to see the glass half full and that means that dry and clear days with almost half of the month. In addition, the days get longer and the sunset does not arrive until 19:30 in the evening or 20:30 at the end of the month.
Do not forget to pack warm clothes in your suitcase, preferably waterproof, but leave room for short sleeves. And don't forget your umbrella, because in London rain can make an appearance at any time.
London Tourism in April
Although the high season doesn't arrive until summer, April is one of the busiest months for tourists in London. This is due, as you might have guessed, to Easter. Hotel prices go up and so do the entrance fees to some of London's main monuments. However, the good weather and the amount of activities that April offers us compensates for the higher influx of people and the price increase.
If you want to visit London in April you will be right for sure, but I recommend planning well in advance to get better deals and avoid running out of rooms in hotels.