A Guide to the Camping Season in the UK & the Best Times to Go
As the UK’s relatively unpredictable winter weather starts to even out the grey drizzle with longer, warmer, and more temperate days, you may be wondering whether that’s the cue to refuel your campervan for a weekend camping trip with the family.
If it’s ever felt tricky pinpointing camping season in the UK, that’s because it’s largely synonymous with the changing temperature. Factoring in the unreliability of the British weather means that those camping plans can be quickly discarded for a night watching Netflix’s latest crime romp. It’s largely true that camping season starts when the UK begins typically to experience steady heat.
We’ve defined the important dates that relate to the camping season in the UK, and any exceptions to this rule, so you can start to plan your next adventure.
UK Camping Season – Key Dates
Compare months throughout the UK calendar year to judge popular camping dates.
|Should I Go Camping?
|Camping is uncommon
|Get your campervan ready
|Campsites start to open
|Most campsites are open
|Peak camping season
|Campsites are busy
|Campsites are open
|Campsites begin closing
|Camping is uncommon
The Best Time to Go Camping Depends on Your Preferences
As before, in the UK, camping season is determined largely by the changing weather patterns, even if this feels increasingly hard to predict. You could almost overlap optimal dates for camping with the UK seasons and determine when most of the country will be enjoying getting outside for camping.
But the answers look different to those who crave rugged exploration, travel frequently with an impressive kit list, and have a passion for the wilderness. There is no bad time to go camping, right? There’s only bad kit.
If you’re a veteran adventurer and you travel with the best gear, then every month could be an opportunity for outdoor camping. This doesn’t mean that it will be comfortable, nor will campsites necessarily be available to you. That’s why, when most people talk about the “camping season”, they’re referring to the optimal dates to go camping.
Typical Camping Season Dates
Camping season in the UK will typically start in April (sometimes as late as May) and last until September or October.
The reason camping season starts during the months of April and May is because the UK climate is transitioning out of colder winter patterns. The end of March is when spring typically arrives in the UK, when temperatures begin to rise, and morning frosts become less common. The warmer climate, generally, is believed to make camping conditions more convenient and comfortable for those travelling.
As a general rule, most paid-for campsites will be fully open and operational in May, welcoming guests from all over the country.
Concluding camping season, October is a useful date to keep in mind, because it’s usually when the UK starts to experience autumn weather patterns. This means shorter, colder nights.
When Do Most Campsites Open?
Whilst there are campsites that might be open all year round, this is uncommon in the UK. Most campsites will only be open during three seasons, including spring, summer, and parts of autumn.
Campsites, typically, open as early as April (however, many will remain closed until May).
That means that camping season in the UK is determined just as much by the weather (and seasons) as much as campsite availability. Depending on your location, ‘wilding’, or wild camping on public lands, is prohibited in the UK. Whilst you can wild camp in Scotland, if you’re elsewhere, it’s advised that you hold a valid reservation with a campsite before travelling.
Do Campsites Open in the Winter?
In certain parts of the UK, especially where campsites attract a lot of tourists, you may find that campsites are open across all four seasons. But it’s worth remembering that the kinds of kit and amenities available in different seasons will vary. If you’re camping in the winter, for example, it’s advisable to get thermal layers for you and your campervan.
This same rule applies to campsites, as they may be operating on reduced or limited amenities in the wintertime. Even local activities will vary in the winter, where closures or shortened hours of operation may make it more difficult to make the most out of your travels.
When is the Best Time of the Year to Go Camping?
The best time of year, generally, to go camping in the UK is between June and July. This is ideal for those travelling with families, pets, or even soloists, because the climate is typically characterised by longer, warmer days.
Even though in the UK, the “best” time or date for camping may appear subjective, for many it’s when camping is practical and comfortable. This means that we’re really talking about the optimal conditions for camping.
The warmer temperatures in the summer also mean that more outdoor activities will be available, but campsite availability will be competitive.
When Should I Make a Reservation at a Campsite?
Many online forums will trade stories of busy camping peaks throughout the summer (typically June and July) in known UK hotspots, like coastal parts of Cornwall or the idyllic Cotswolds. This makes pre-bookings not only key to enjoying the peak of camping, but essential to getting a space in the first place. To avoid disappointment, you should consider booking as early as six months in advance. Practically, you can start to plan camping trips in March if you’re planning on visiting a site later in the summer.