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leaves in autumn uk

Autumn in the UK is a fantastic season to cosy up, explore nature and enjoy classic rituals 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! What better time to get outside and enjoy the array of vibrant colours on display, as we officially say goodbye to the summer?

So when does UK autumn start? Continue reading to discover the signs to look for…

When does Autumn start in the UK?

Autumn UK

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 21, 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 1, 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 1 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.

What are the signs of Autumn?

1. Dark nights

A dark evening during autumn UK

One of the first signs of autumn you’ll notice 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 8 pm.

Dark weather is the perfect opportunity to choose 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 if you dare!

2. Crisp weather

Autumn UK colours

You can’t beat a Sunday morning walk as you step on crunchy auburn leaves and breathe in the fresh crisp air with a hot coffee in hand. Once 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. If you’re looking for walking inspiration, take a look at these beautiful British autumn walks.

3. Autumn colours

Red Leaves during Autumn UK

Autumn in the UK really is a feast for the eyes. As bright colours from the summer start to fade, 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 real 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.

Discover the best places to see autumn colours in the UK.

4. Wildlife

Squirrel during Autumn UK

Another sign 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.

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 begin to mature and plummet from the tops of trees.

Falling seeds is a key sign of autumn in the UK, so make sure to watch your head as you walk under sycamore, ash and maple trees. 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 floor in piles of leaves.

Find more fascinating ideas for things to do with the kids during autumn.

6. Seasonal food

pumpkin latte autumn uk

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

Smell the aroma of flavoured coffee on your morning walk, bite into a sweet caramel apple during Halloween, and cook up a pumpkin storm in the kitchen as you make pumpkin pie, roasted seeds and soups on a chilly afternoon.

Why not put together a spread of your favourite autumn food as you enjoy fun facts for bonfire night with your loved ones.

Do you love autumn as much as we do? Browse our range of Autumn short breaks and discover some of our favourite cosy cottages for autumn that will make your next holiday an unforgettable one! You can also find even more seasonal fun with our Autumn adventures blogs.

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