Camping is typically much more enjoyable and comfortable when it’s done in good weather. This means choosing the right time of year to pack your gear and get out into the great outdoors. But if you’re new to camping you might have wondered when camping season starts. And we’re here to give you the answer.
Generally speaking the camping season begins in early spring, around April or May and runs through until September or October as the autumn begins to set in.
That said, there are other factors that may affect when you can go camping. For example, if you live in a place that is warm all year round then there isn’t a bad time to go and camping seasons won’t really apply to your trips.
When Do Most Campsites Open?
There’s a saying among campers that says ‘there’s no bad time to go camping, only bad gear.’ This would tell you that it’s possible to camp at any time of the year provided you’ve got a tent that can handle the extreme weather.
That said, most campsites wouldn’t agree with this and typically open in May, although some will open as early as April. For the most part, they are three seasons and will close again in September or October. There are a handful of four season campsites that stay open during winter but these aren’t all that common.
What’s The Best Time Of Year To Go Camping?
The best time of year to go camping is when it appeals to you. While a lot of people enjoy summer camping thanks to the nice weather, others enjoy the challenges that winter camping brings. However, with that in mind, most would agree that summer is the time to get outdoors and enjoy camping. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of camping in all seasons.
A lot of people fall into the trap of thinking that spring is a good season to go camping in but it isn’t all it might be cracked up to be. You see, the problem with camping in spring is that while the weather in the daytime might be warm and comfortable, things can get a little chilly when the sun goes down.
Remember the song from the movie Bambi? April Showers? Well, they didn’t write that for the fun of it; April is known to be one of the wettest months and if you’re camping at this time of year, you may find yourself caught in a thunderstorm or at the very least, a heavy downpour. Furthermore, depending on where you are camping, it isn’t uncommon for there to be a few last flurries of snow in this incredibly unpredictable month. Check out our Wet Weather Camping article
Fluctuations in weather in the spring make it one of the more difficult seasons to camp in. You’ll certainly need to be prepared with lots of camping equipment. That said, you will have the joy of spending time outdoors at the one time of year where everything is coming back to life and for many, there’s no greater joy than this!
Additionally, the campsites will be much quieter so if it’s peace and tranquillity you’re looking for, spring is a great time to camp. You’ll also benefit as none of the pesky bugs and biters will be out at this time of year.
For most people, summer is the ideal time for camping and the campsites will certainly fill up pretty quickly in the months of July and August. The weather is usually pretty warm and while there is a risk of showers in the UK, these aren’t usually anything severe and the temperature isn’t usually affected by them. For this reason, you can spend hours around the campfire in nothing more than a t- shirt and shorts without feeling uncomfortable. (Although, we’d always suggest packing a hoodie or jacket.)
You won’t be limited on the type of activities you can take part in during the summer as almost everything will be open for business. Plus, with the good weather, hiking, wild swimming and cycling trails won’t be ridden with mud and everywhere will be bright and beautiful.
The downside to camping in summer, however, is that everyone else probably has the same idea. Traffic getting to campsites will be worse, especially if you’re travelling on a bank holiday and the sites themselves will be booked up more quickly so you’ll need to get in early to secure a pitch. You also need to think about how do you blackout a tent.
What’s more, when you camp in the summertime, you’ll be joined by those annoying midges and mozzies which can turn what should be a wonderful holiday into the stuff of nightmares. Keep mosquitos away with All natural Incognito keeps everything nasty away. Mosquito and midge repellent range that’s a bit kinder on the skin. We’ve tested it in some buggy places! We prefer this to the old favourite Avon Skin So Soft, but try them both!
Most people would agree that as the leaves begin to change colour and the scenery begins to change, autumn is one of the most beautiful times of year. Camping around this time is a completely different experience and you’ll certainly see nature in a totally new light.
You will also find that the campsites tend to be much quieter at this time of year as many of them are preparing to close and most campers will have packed up their gear for the year. It can be hit and miss with the weather as some years are milder than others but there’s no denying that nighttime temperatures will be much lower.
This can be a downside as you won’t be as comfortable as you may have been when camping in summertime and you’ll need to make sure that you take plenty of layers. Much like the spring, the weather can change in an instant so you’ll need to be prepared for this.
However, there is nothing quite like sitting around a campfire as the night’s draw in a little earlier, toasting marshmallows and basking in the warm glow.
Furthermore, camping in autumn means you will have access to much lower campsite rates as these tend to drop as the camping season comes to an end.
It doesn’t take us to tell you that camping during the winter months is going to be a vastly different experience! Things are going to get very cold and it is vital that you are prepared with the right equipment. You’ll need additional clothing that is specifically designed for cold weather and it’s imperative that you make sure your tent is up to the challenge of keeping you warm (keep your tent warm) on those cold nights.
Winter camping certainly isn’t for everyone and when you think about the extra costs relating to equipment, it’s enough to put most people off. That said, there won’t be any biting insects and the campsites will be incredibly quiet so you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself; if you can find one that’s open, of course.
Things To Consider When Choosing What Time Of Year To Go Camping
When choosing what time of year to go camping, there are a few things you will need to think about. We would primarily suggest considering the weather and how willing you are to face various conditions. For example, if you’re not someone who likes to traipse through mud and feels miserable when they’re damp, camping in the wet spring months probably isn’t the best idea.
You’ll also need to think about the campsite rates as these will vary across the year. Peak season during the summer will be considerably more expensive than other times of year. Of course, this also means that the campsites will be busier so you’ll also want to think about how much company you’d like on your trip.
There is the option of camping away from an organised site but you’ll still need permission from the landowner (wild camping) and to keep in mind that you won’t have many of the luxuries you would on a campsite.
With all things considered, you could be forgiven for thinking that the months of June to August would be the best for camping. If you want mostly hot, dry weather then we would agree. However, camping in September is wildly underrated as you’ll still be almost guaranteed pleasant weather but there will be fewer crowds and better rates. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.
Do Campsites Open In Winter?
When it comes to looking for winter campsites, you’re in luck. While not all of them remain open all year round, we wrote an article about all year round campsites there are some that do. It’s worth doing a bit of research to find out where it is best and what’s open near you. Even in colder climates, some campsites remain open especially in areas that bring in a lot of tourism.
One of the best ways of finding out what’s available is to look on the Camping and Caravanning Club website which has some great details of camping in every season. Here, you’ll find information on what’s open and things to do at any time of the year.
With all of that said, it is worth keeping in mind that campsites that do remain open in winter may not have all of the same amenities (if you need a camping toilet or camping shower, we've got you covered!) you’d get in the summer. Things may be limited so it’s worth checking out what’s on offer before you travel. This not only applies to the campsite itself but the surrounding towns and villages.
Camping season starts in spring with most campsites opening their doors around April or May. The season runs all the way through to September or October when the weather starts to turn although there are a few campsites that will remain open all year round.
It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of camping in each season but ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. You will need to be mindful of the fact that those campsites that are open in winter may have limited amenities so check this out before you book a pitch.
Meanwhile…which is the best campervan you can buy now?
Or maybe use your car instead?