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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN London

There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in London each year. The main ones are listed below.

January 1: New Year's Day (national)

March 17 : St-Patrick's Day (national)

Although this feast day honours the patron saint of Ireland, in London as in many other cities with strong Irish communities, it is celebrated each year with a huge parade, pipe and brass bands, dancing, street theatre and the colour green everywhere. Spectators come from all over the world to celebrate St Patrick's Day in a festive atmosphere.

April 23 : Saint George's Day (national)

Unlike Saint Patrick's Day in Ireland, the feast day of Saint George rarely gives rise to spontaneous celebration in England, but in recent years several cities have begun organizing annual programmes of events to honour the country's patron saint, who died on this day in 303 A.D. London's main festivities include live bands, family activities and food stalls in Trafalgar Square and a gala concert of patriotic music at Royal Albert Hall.

June 8–August 16 : Summer Exhibition (local event)

The world's oldest open-submission art exhibition, this event has been a highlight of London's cultural calendar since 1768. Every summer, the Royal Academy of Arts showcases the work of little-known and emerging artists alongside pieces by more established figures.

Mid-July–mid-September : BBC Proms (local event)

For several weeks each summer, London's Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall vibrate to the sounds of classical music, with dozens of concerts featuring many of the world's greatest artists, composers, orchestras and ensembles.

Late July–late September : Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace (local event)

Each summer, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns, open to the public for eight weeks. A great opportunity to explore its many treasures: paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Poussin, sculptures by Canova, but also an impressive collection of Sèvres porcelain as well as exquisite French and English furniture.

Weekend before the last Monday in August : Notting Hill Carnival (local event)

Europe's largest street festival, attracting millions of visitors from around the globe, this three-day carnival is held every year on the last weekend of August. Traditional and contemporary Caribbean music fills the air.

September : Great River Race (local event)

Hundreds of boats powered by oars or paddles, ranging from standard rowboats to Viking longships and Hawaiian outrigger canoes, take part in this annual 34-kilometre (21-mile) river marathon on the Thames, from the London Docklands to Ham House, Richmond.

December 25 : Christmas (national)

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN London

London has an oceanic climate. Rainfall is fairly consistent throughout the year, with between 11 and 15 rainy days every month, but precipitation is often light or intermittent. Summers are moderately warm and days of extreme heat are rare. Winters are cold but seldom frigid. Snowfall only occasionally results in considerable accumulation, due to the microclimate created by the London metropolitan area and the heat retained by the city's buildings.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January 2/36 8/46 57/2.2 Not the best period to go
February 2/36 9/48 45/1.8 Not the best period to go
March 3/37 12/54 43/1.7 Not the best period to go
April 5/41 14/57 45/1.8 Not the best period to go
May 8/46 18/64 49/1.9 Not the best period to go
June 11/52 21/70 49/1.9 Good period to go Good period to go
July 13/55 23/73 47/1.9 Good period to go Good period to go
August 13/55 23/73 51/2.0 Good period to go Good period to go
September 10/50 20/68 52/2.0 Good period to go Good period to go
October 7/45 16/61 70/2.8 Not the best period to go
November 4/39 11/52 61/2.4 Not the best period to go
December 2/36 8/46 57/2.2 Not the best period to go
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London Heathrow International Airport

The London Heathrow Airport is located 22 kilometres (14 miles) west of the city centre.

  • Five terminals:
    • Terminal 1
    • Terminal 2
    • Terminal 3
    • Terminal 4 (Air France)
    • Terminal 5

Getting from the airport to London and back:
  • By car
    • Accessible via the M4.
    • Three parking facilities are available at all five terminals:
      • Short Stay, GBP 3.60 for 30 minutes and GBP 6.70 for 1 hour.
      • Long Stay, from GBP 27.30
      • Business, from GBP 25.30
    • Several car rental companies have counters on the arrivals level of each terminal.
  • By rail
    • Heathrow Express, the fastest link between the airport and central London, offers non-stop service to/from London Paddington and runs every 15 minutes, with a travel time of 15 minutes. Standard single fare is GBP 22.00.
  • By bus
    • National Express coaches connect the airport to Victoria coach station with a travel time of 40–80 minutes, with single fares from GBP 6.00.
    • Coach services are offered by The Airline connecting Heathrow with Oxford's central station in about 80 minutes. The one-way adult fare is GBP 23.
  • By rail
    • London Underground's Piccadilly Line connects Heathrow to Piccadilly Circus in under an hour. The standard single fare is GBP 2.55.
  • By taxi
    • There are taxi ranks outside each terminal. Travel time to central London is about 1 hour and fares range from GBP 40 to GBP 70 depending on the destination.
  • Services: shops, bars and restaurants, free Internet access (Wi-Fi) available in the airport.
  • Telephone: +44 (0)844 335 1801
  • Website: www.heathrowairport.com

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GETTING AROUND London

London's public transport system is efficient and convenient but relatively expensive compared with those in other cities.

By rail

London's rapid transit network comprises a total of 14 lines. Most of these lines operate from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday to Saturday and 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Sunday. The single adult fare for travel in zones 1 and 2 is GBP 2.55.

Oyster cards and Travelcards

The Visitor Travel Card VTC is an efficient and inexpensive way to use the subway. With this card, you can travel the capital unlimited for 1, 3 or 7 days. Zones 1 and 2 cover all of London's city centre, as well as most places of touristic interest. Starting from GBP 22.70. The VTC card is also valid on the bus.

By bus

London's old-fashioned, bright red double-decker buses are a tourist attraction in their own right, and can be a much more enjoyable way to discover the city than using the Underground. The adult fare is GBP 1.50. Note that certain lines only run during the day, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (approximately). Special night buses (numbers preceded by the letter “N”) begin their service before the Underground closes for the day.

By taxis

London metered black taxi cabs are easily recognizable. They all have orange “For Hire” signs on their roofs that light up when the cab is available. They are also very convenient, because they are particularly roomy (fitting up to five people). The minimum fare is GBP 2.40 at all times.

Please note: Some taxis accept credit or debit cards, but there is a processing charge of GBP 1.00, or 10 percent of the metered fare, whichever is higher.

By car

Renting a car in London is a very bad idea. Parking garages are exceedingly expensive and the city's congestion charge applies each time you enter certain central areas of the city between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m Monday to Friday. London is clearly doing everything within its power to discourage unnecessary car use by its residents. It makes sense to follow their example!

By boat

A cruise on the Thames is also an excellent way to explore London. Circular Cruise operates sightseeing boats plying the river east from Westminster Pier to St. Katharine's Pier near the Tower of London, before making the return trip in the opposite direction. Round-trip tickets cost between GBP 13 and 30 per person.

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Visitor information

Upon your arrival in London, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.

Official Visitor Guide to London

Offers practical information and useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

  • Address: St Paul's Churchyard – London EC4M 8BX
  • Telephone: +44 (0)20 7332 1456
  • Website: www.visitlondon.com

Tourist Information Centres

London's Tourist Information Centres offer helpful information and recommendations for your stay in London and its surrounding area. Listed below are the main addresses:

  • City of London Information Centre:St. Paul's Churchyard City of London(http://www.visitthecity.co.uk)
  • Greenwich Tourist Information Centre:Pepys House, 2 Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich
  • King's Cross St. Pancras Travel Information Centre: LUL Western Ticket Hall, Euston Road
  • Liverpool Street Travel Information Centre: Liverpool Street Underground Station
  • Piccadilly Circus Travel Information Centre: Piccadilly Circus Underground Station

United Kingdom travel guide

The official website developed and maintained by Visit Britain, the main UK tourist board, provides a wealth of information on London.

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Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency used in the United Kingdom is the Pound Sterling (GBP).

EUR 1 = GBP 0,89

GBP 1 = EUR 1,12

The above exchange rate is given for information because is variable.

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Medical information

See your doctor before you travel. London counts several hospitals and medical institutions, as well as quality medical practitioners and health specialists. It is recommended that you obtain insurance covering health care expenses as well as medical evacuation or repatriation before you leave home.

Vaccinations

There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to the United Kingdom.

For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:

  • Address: 38, Quai de Jemmapes 75010 Paris
  • Website: www.vaccinations-airfrance.fr
  • Telephone: +33 (0)1 43 17 22 00
  • To make a vaccination appointment:
    • online (click here)
    • call the centre at +33 (0)1 43 17 22 00

Water

Tap water is safe to drink in London.

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Administrative formalities

Citizens or nationals of several countries must carry a visa to enter the United Kingdom.

For further information, visit the website of the United Kingdom’s Government Digital Service: www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa/y

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Useful addresses

To enjoy peace of mind during your stay in London, visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country.

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Good to know

00 44
+ phone number without the (0)
0 : 00
of time difference with
Dublin
Start of daylight saving time: last Sunday in March

End of daylight saving time: last Sunday in October

BANKS
Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon
GOVERNMENT OFFICES
Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
230 V / 50 Hz

Tipping
In London as in the rest of the United Kingdom, there are no fixed rules for tipping. At restaurants, a service charge is sometimes included in the bill. Otherwise, it is customary to tip about 15% of the bill, unless you are not satisfied with the service. A 10 to 15% tip is also expected by taxi drivers.

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