What to Do in London in February
This post lists the many things to do in February in London, updated for 2018, including a top-10 as well family-friendly events, things to do at night, and of course, free activities. If you are here at the start or end of this month, check out our guides to January and March. Of course, any time of year is great for Free Tours by Foot.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO
If you are considering visiting many top attractions, then you should consider a tourist discount card or a bus tour combo ticket. These tickets and bundles could save you some serious money, but it depends on several factors. Read our post to help you understand if a tourist discount pass is for you.
1. Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is based on the lunar and solar calendars and always falls between late January and mid-February. Outside of Asia London is host to some of the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations, including stage performances, fireworks, and a spectacular parade. Much of the festivities take place in the West End, but you’ll find more activities including tasty treats and family-friendly fun in Leicester Square and of course Chinatown. The parade kicks off as early as 10 am in the West End, featuring hundreds of street performers and colorful decorations. From there Trafalgar Square host the main stage performances highlighting everything from traditional Chinese dance to modern hip-hop acts. There is no shortage of music and food to explore throughout the nearby neighborhoods before witnessing the dramatic fireworks display that marks the end of the festivities.
2. British Museum
A trip to the British Museum is a perfect activity for those looking to soak up some culture, particularly if it’s really cold outdoors. There are over 8 million objects to see, which can make it slightly overwhelming, so why not join us and let us handle the task of navigating. Our pay-what-you-wish tour of the British Museum includes a knowledgeable tour guide who will not only steer you through the vast collections the famous museum has on display, but also share the story of the cultures and characters who produced them as well as the history of the museum itself. Join us as we explore how these many collections have shaped who we are today. It’s free to visit and it’s not the only free museum in London. Learn more about what you can see here on their official website.
3. Valentine’s Day
There are plenty of great things to do in London on the 14th for the wacky-minded and for those who’d prefer a bit of romance. There are lots of great places to dine throughout the city, but perhaps the most romantic would be a dinner cruise on the Thames. You might also consider visiting one of London’s observation decks to sip on champagne as you and your partner look off at the sunset over London’s stunning skyline. Save money by checking out our post on the Best Free Views of London. There’s also the option of walking hand in hand amongst the flowers at London’s annual Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens or pick out bunches of flowers for your significant other at Columbia Road Flower Market. If you’re interested in a bit of entertainment the West End host theatre and dinner specials that include a range of different restaurants and productions. There is also a range of museums that are open late, some featuring live music, food, and bars. Check them out here!
4. Kensington Palace
Dating from the 17th century Kensington Palace has been the home of many royal members including Victoria and Albert, Princess Diana, Prince Harry and of course now Prince William and Kate Middleton. We offer a tour of this stunning palace and its gardens which is great for all ages. Over the course of about 2.5-hours, we’ll explore sights like Royal Albert Hall, the Peter Pan Statue and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. You’ll learn of Palace’s stunning architecture and the rich history of the palace itself and its long line of royal inhabitants. TIP: Entry into Kensington Palace is included at no extra charge with the London Pass.
Read through our list of Top 10 Things to Do in Kensington to find out more about the surrounding area.
5. Victoria and Albert Museum
Housing over 5,000 years of human creativity including photography, fashion, sculptures, paintings, jewelry and many more, V&A is one of the world’s leading museums of art and design, and the best part is, it’s free! There are whole wings dedicated to specific things like ironwork and musical instruments as well as reconstructed Jacobean rooms. This architecturally stunning museum is one of many that beckons a visit. The Science Museum is another very popular attraction. Offering many interactive galleries this one is great for the kids!
Located in north London, Camden Market is one of the most famous markets in the world. It is filled with shops, stalls, cafes, and stables that offer something for every tourist. There are plenty of places to hear live music or grab a drink and bite to eat. There’s even a zoo for those traveling with children.
To find out about all the great things there are to do in Camden market visit our blog post of Things to Do in Camden Town., which includes a self-guided tour. You might also consider our pay-what-you-wish guided tour of Camden to get the very best out of the famed market.
7. Pancake Day
Pancake Day occurs annually between the 3rd of February and the 9th of March. Also known as Shrove Tuesday, this day marks the last day before Lent, traditionally a period of abstinence associated with clearing your home of things like fat, eggs, and sugar. Many restaurants will have special menus and discounts on this day, and there are even Pancake Day-themed races that involve flipping pancakes in a pan while trying to complete a course as fast as possible! One, in particular, occurs outside of the Houses of Parliament and pits politicians against journalist!
8. Orchid Festival
Inspired by traditional and modern Indian culture, London’s Kew Gardens is transformed into a striking display of floral installations in the shape of peacocks, tigers, and elephants. You’ll learn about the significance of orchids in Thai cuisine, medicine and culture, and furthermore how Kew scientists are involved in naming orchids and helping to save endangered plant species. There’s also an opportunity to visit the gardens at night where you can try botanical cocktails, listen to live traditional Indian music and participate in hands-on workshops. Visit the official page find out more!
London’s skyline is a spectacular attraction all on its own, and the Views From The Shard or London’s Sky Garden offer some of the best. The Shard is Western Europe’s tallest building offering panoramic views of the city from a vantage point almost twice as high as any other building in the city. If you’re looking for a free option, then consider London’s Sky Garden. Located at the top of London’s ‘Walkie Talkie’ building, this unique, glass building houses three floors of landscaped gardens and observation decks. Both options include bars and food options. Check out our post titled Best Free Views in London to find out more about more locations.
TIP: Some locations with great views, such as Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Monument, have costs but are included for free with a purchase of the London Pass or other tourist discount passes.
10. Shakespeare Globe
Located on the south bank of the River Thames, Shakespeare Globe is a huge complex holding a reconstructed outdoor theatre, a winter theatre, and a museum and education center. While it may be too cold to enjoy a show outside, there are still shows indoors and a chance to participate in lectures staged readings and workshops. For more information about the Globe and how to get tickets, visit our blog post.
Here are just a few of the many free things you can do in London in February. Also, be sure to check out the other sections of this post, as many of these other ideas are free, such as visiting the Sky Garden Observation Deck, strolling through Camden Town, checking out the parades for the Chinese New Year or visiting the British Museum. Check our post Free Things to Do in London and London on a Budget for more money saving ideas.
Witness the Changing of the Guard
No trip to London is complete without witnessing the Changing of the Guard ceremony, and one major advantage to see the ceremony in February is that crowds are small and it’s much easier to get your choice of a viewing area. This event is completely free and can be watched from a few different locations including Buckingham Palace and the Wellington Barracks. This formal ceremony is a glorious display of pageantry and can be enjoyed by all ages. However, the ceremony doesn’t take place every day and you need to choose which part of the ceremony you would like to see. To find out everything you need to know about attending the Changing of the Guard visit our blog post.
Visit the House of Commons and the House of Lords
Located inside the Palace of Westminster, the legislative body for the United Kingdom is open to the public to sit in the public galleries and watch political debates anytime the House of Commons or House of Lords are at work inside the palace. You will need to know the debate schedule and be prepared to go through security. This experience is separate from touring the Palace of Westminster, which has a cost.
Visit our blog post on How To Visit the Houses of Parliament and The Palace of Westminster to find out more!
Take In a Free Concert
Located in South Kensington, the Royal College of Music is one of London’s most vibrant conservatories and hosts free concerts inside featuring the talents of both the staff and students. Due to its location in an important cultural quarter, the RCM is also surrounded by other great free attractions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum.
St. Martin’s in the Fields also host free concerts every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday at 1 pm. The concerts last about 45 minutes and feature a range of musicians from classical to pop. To find out more about this event, visit our blog post.
Visit a Museum
There are plenty of museums in London that are free all the time, such as the British Museum mentioned above, but there are also many museums that are free, such as the Tate Modern or the Museum of London, (or pay-what-you-can) on certain days of the week or during certain hours. Visit our blog post to view the impressive list and details on when they are free.
Just because it’s February, doesn’t mean nightlife in London slows down. Likewise, some of the above-mentioned items can be experienced in the evening, such as a visit to the Sky Garden or the Shard. Of course, if you are in London on Valentine’s Day, you will most likely be enjoying an evening out. The Royal School of Music offers events in the evening. You can even visit the Houses of Parliament if they are in a late night session. Below the top 10 video are a few of our favorite evening activities for February. For a full list, check out our post Things to Do at Night in London.
Witness the Ceremony of the Keys
Every night the Tower of London comes alive with a centuries-old tradition that is the official locking and securing of the tower, the Ceremony of the Keys. This uniquely London experience is completely free to attend though tickets are required. Visit our blog post to learn how to get tickets and find out more about the ceremony.
Ride the London Eye
The London Eye offers one of the best vantage points in the city. For those looking for great views of the city lit up at night, including the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben, this is a terrific option. There are several different ticket options made available which you can find out more about by visiting our blog post.
See London from the Sky Garden
Another great option for those looking for great views of the city at night is London’s Sky Garden. While the outdoor viewing balcony closes at 5, the atrium stays open into the late hours of the night. The Walkie Talkie building in which it is located also includes a restaurant, bistro, bar and public garden. Guests are required to pre-book but there is no cost to do so. Reserve your free spot at the Sky Garden here.
Join a Pub or Club Crawl
London is home to many different pub crawls that range from historic themed to Harry Potter themed. Some of these crawls even include admission to one or two nightclubs! This is a great option for solo travelers looking to meet new friends or discover local hotspots. Check out our comparison post which reviews many of the best crawls in London.
Get more ideas for things to do in London at night.
Below are just a few of the ideas for things to do with kids in February in London. Some of the items mentioned above would also qualify for inclusion here, including the Ceremony of the Keys, the Changing of the Guard, visiting the British Museum or riding the London Eye. You might also want to read the family section of our free things to do in London post.
Visit Platform 9 ¾
Tucked away in the back of King’s Cross Station, no visit to London is complete without a visit to the most famous platform in the world. Capture a photo of your kids enjoying their opportunity to push the trolley through the magical barrier wall where Harry Potter once did. But this isn’t the only location for Harry Potter fans. There are numerous locations throughout London to visit, such as Diagon Alley and the Ministry of Magic, or check out our free, self-guided tour of Harry Potter London locations.
Want to meet other Muggles? Then join us for our pay-what-you-like guided Harry Potter London Film Location Tour.
V&A Museum of Childhood
This unique collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum includes toys, dolls, and games that date as far back as the 1600’s. The collection aims to show how children may have lived at these different periods in time in play, learning, and clothing. The museum also runs exhibits and hands-on activities that kids of all ages will enjoy. Find out more here!
The Science Museum
The Science Museum is another great option for those looking for great hands-on learning activities for the kids. Here, kids are able to create science-based art and even take in a fun film in the museums IMAX theatre. Find more information on their website.
See a Children’s Show
There are several theatres throughout London that have excellent programs for kids, such as the Little Angel Theatre and Half Moon Young People’s Theatre. Both theatres have kid-themed shows running often and at times host interactive workshops.
For more great family-friendly activities to consider, visit our post on Top 10 Free Things to Do in London which includes a section dedicated to free things to do with kids.