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Signs of Autumn

If you’re looking for the signs of autumn then you’re probably really glad that summer is over and who can blame you? Autumn in the UK is a fantastic season to cosy up, explore nature and enjoy wholesome traditions before the end of the year. 

The weeks between September and November are a wonderful time of year, perfect for those who love pulling on a snug jumper, relaxing by the heat of a roaring fire, and all things pumpkin-spiced! 

There is truly no better time to get outside and enjoy the array of vibrant colours on display, as we officially say goodbye to the summer!

Read on to ‘fall’ in love with the signs of autumn…

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Autumn FAQs

There are three different dates to determine when autumn starts in the UK. The astronomical date is usually a day on either side of September 21st when the autumnal equinox takes place and the year is split by the solstice.

The meteorological date is based on weather cycles and typically starts on September 1st, lasting all the way to November 30.

The third and most unique way of defining autumn is phenologically, based on the migration of birds, the falling of leaves, and other ecological and biological indicators.

Whether you’re ready for autumn in your cosy jumper on September 1st or would rather wait until the air is crisp and leaves are auburn, there are plenty of signs to look out for during autumn in the UK.

In the UK the clocks go forward and back to increase the ours of daylight! They go forward on the last Sunday in March and backwards on the last Sunday in October. These changing dates can get confusing but we have you covered!

In the UK the clocks go backwards on Sunday 29th October 2023 and they’ll go forward again on Sunday 31st March 2024.

Looking to impress your friends and family with your knowledge about autumn? Then these 10 facts about autumn will help you out!

  1. People born in autumn are more likely to live longer. According to the Journal of Aging Research, autumn babies are more likely to live to 100!
  2. Pumpkin carving began as an Irish tradition, however, they used to carve into turnips and potatoes. It was adopted by America as a Halloween tradition after Irish immigrants arrived.
  3. Those living near the equator miss out on all of the cosy signs of autumn because they get regular sun.
  4. Autumn has had many names in the UK. In the 15th century we called it harvest, we then called it fall until the 17th century when we adopted ‘automne’ from the French.
  5. Pumpkin spice doesn’t actually taste like pumpkin. It is instead the blend of spices such as ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves that give it an autumnal feel.
  6. The equinox occurs when the Earth’s equator is in line with the centre of the sun, this happens twice a year. Usually in March and September.
  7. September’s full moon is otherwise known as the Harvest Moon. This is because it previously gave farmers extra light, allowing them extra time to harvest their crops before winter.
  8. The leaves on trees change colour and begin to fall because there is not enough light for photosynthesis reducing the chlorophyll which usually makes leaves green.
  9. You have more chance of seeing the Northern Lights during autumn in the UK, as geomagnetic storms occur more often.
  10. Animals often choose to migrate in winter with birds like the Arctic Tern travelling 11,000 miles and Monarch butterflies 3000 miles.  

Signs of Autumn

1. Autumn Colours

Red Leaves Autumn UK

One of the clearest signs of autumn is the changing colours! As bright colours from the summer start to fade during autumn in the UK, you can enjoy the dreamy hues of warm browns, rich oranges and deep reds as you wander around your local parks and nature trails.

Although they just look pretty to us, the reason behind the changing colours is due to lack of sunlight, meaning trees stop producing chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the pigment inside leaves that makes them green, so when this disappears, beautiful yellow and red colours begin to emerge.

This means you can look forward to the soothing sound of crunching leaves on your evening walk. To appreciate the full spectrum of colours that autumn has to offer, discover the best places to see autumn colours in the UK.

2. Autumn TV Shows and Films

Autumn TV

The sign of autumn in the UK is often marked by the return of some of the cosiest TV programmes! From annual shows synonymous with autumn to streaming services uploading cosy classics, autumn is the season of good TV!

In my household, one of the best signs of autumn is the return of The Great British Bake Off. Nothing says autumn like snuggling up with a cup of TV and any sweet snacks we can get our hands on while watching one of the most wholesome TV shows.

Other shows like Strictly Come Dancing and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here are also closely associated with autumn in the UK since they air during this time, leading up to Christmas.

Streaming services have recognised people’s desire for cosy autumn nights. Nowadays, a sign of autumn is the abundance of cosy TV shows, films, and Halloween favourites conveniently added around September and October.

Gilmore Girls, Harry Potter, Friends, Stranger Things, Hocus Pocus and American Horror Story are some of our team’s favourites!

3. Crisp Weather

Weather Autumn UK

You can’t beat a Sunday morning walk, stepping on crunchy auburn leaves and breathing in the fresh, crisp air with a hot coffee in hand. When the air starts to feel cool and crisp, you’ll know that UK autumn is on its way.

There’s something quite special about arriving home after a walk in the autumn air, rosy-cheeked and worn out, ready to pop on some fuzzy socks and chill out. 

Autumn in the UK usually means it’s time to dig out the raincoat! Especially if you’re going to be taking advantage of some of the most beautiful British autumn walks, as autumn is typically the wettest season in the UK.

However, this also does mean that autumn is the perfect season for lovers of petrichor which is the smell of rain. If you don’t fancy getting wet there are still plenty of fun things to do on a rainy day.

4. Dark Nights

Dark Autumn UK

Another of the more noticeable signs of autumn to recognise is the return of dark nights, making the days shorter and the mornings bleaker.

When the clocks officially change during late October, nighttime will start even earlier and have you cuddled up in bed with a hot chocolate by 8pm. It also makes it easier to sleep in since the mornings are still dark, unlike in summer when we’ve all been guilty of thinking we’ve overslept due to the early light!

Dark weather also provides the perfect opportunity to opt for a night in and watch a horror film in the lead-up to Halloween. Those who are feeling brave can even head out on a UK ghost walk or explore some of the UK’s spookiest locations if you dare!

5. Falling Seeds

Seeds Autumn uk

Be careful as you admire the autumn colours and keep your eye out for signs of seeds falling as they mature and plummet from the tops of trees.

The falling seeds are a key sign of autumn in the UK, so make sure to watch your head as you walk under sycamore, ash and maple trees. You can go on a treasure hunt with the kids and try to find some of these falling seeds, including shiny conkers, round acorns, and spiky beech mast on the ground in piles of leaves. 

One of my favourite things to do as a kid in autumn was watch the helicopter seeds fly off maple, ash and sycamore trees! There are endless fun things to do with the kids during autumn.

6. Halloween Displays

Halloween Displays

As Halloween continues to gain popularity in the UK, another unmistakable sign of autumn is the rise of spooky displays! With Halloween ranges and displays appearing earlier and earlier, Halloween has truly become bigger than ever.

Whether you’re looking to stock up on sweets for trick-or-treating kids or to buy a pumpkin to carve, shops during autumn in the UK offer it all.

This time of year also means Halloween parties are in abundance, so shops are often filled with exciting costumes. There’s usually a prize for the best costume, so be sure to admire all the options!

You can even stock up on Halloween decor to either spook your neighbours or cosy up your home!

7. Pumpkin Patches

Pumpkin Patches

Another relatively new sign of autumn is the increasing number of pumpkin patches. The American tradition of picking your pumpkin from a farm is slowly gaining popularity in the UK.

Instead of heading to your local supermarket to pick up your pumpkins, why not make a fun-filled day of it? Choose from the numerous pumpkin farms where you can wander through the fields to select your perfect pumpkin! These farms often offer other activities to keep the kids entertained.

There are often pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, so you can be as creative as you want with your pumpkin carving. Choose from big, small, round, tall and even white pumpkins which are better known as Casperitas.

Moreover, these pumpkin patches are the perfect place for an autumnal photo shoot. Surrounded by shades of orange and vast landscapes, they are a hotspot for Instagram enthusiasts.

Check out our TikToks below, where we’ve curated the best pumpkin patches from across the UK!


8. Seasonal Food

pumpkin latte autumn uk

Did someone say pumpkin spiced latte? This may be one of my personal favourite signs of autumn as companies and supermarkets start to bring out their seasonal menus and stock.

Indulge in the autumnal flavours by treating yourself to the variety of flavoured coffees on offer. Pumpkin spice is probably one of the most popular but 2023 has seen some exciting flavours including maple and hazelnut lattes and chair lattes!

You can continue to enjoy these flavours in the kitchen with roasted vegetable soups and pumpkin pies. Or if you have a sweet tooth, why not try a spiced crumble or banana bread topped with cinnamon?

Gather the family with a spread of your favourite autumn food as you enjoy fun facts for bonfire night while the fireworks light up the sky all throughout October and November!

9. Wildlife

Squirrel Autumn UK

Lastly, in our guide to the signs of autumn, is the plethora of unique UK wildlife that comes alive.

The migration of rare birds moving south is one of the key indicators of autumn in the UK. Some incredible birds you might see include swallows, nightingales, cuckoos, swifts, redwings, and fieldfares!

Other signs of wildlife you may spot on a walk in the countryside are foraging red squirrels, the annual deer rut, and red foxes at dusk. If you want to learn more, check out where to see these gorgeous animals with The Wildlife Trust.

Do you love spotting these signs of autumn as much as we do? Browse our range of Autumn short breaks.

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