What are the chances of a white Christmas in London?

London covered in a sheet of snow, like this scene in Islington, is an unlikely event on Christmas day 2021

London covered in a sheet of snow, like this scene in Islington, is an unlikely event on Christmas day - Credit: David Harrison

With bookmakers already taking bets on the possibility of a white Christmas, we asked weather forecasters for their predictions.

Will it snow on Christmas Day in London? 

Here's what they had to say.

When was the last White Christmas in London? 

According to The Royal Meteorological Society, a white Christmas in London is officially recorded whenever a snowflake falls on Christmas Day. 

Although this has happened 40 times over the past 61 years - with 2017 being the most recent white Christmas in the UK - London last saw snow on the big day in 1999. 

PABest A woman rolls a snow ball with her dog in Stoke Newington, Hackney, as snow falls in London.

A woman rolls a snow ball with her dog in Stoke Newington, Hackney, as snow falls in January this year - Credit: PA

In the UK, snow is more likely from January to March than in December, with snow or sleet falling an average of 3.9 days in December - compared to over five days in January and February. 

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Applying the snowflake definition outlined above, there has technically been six white Christmases in London since 1960: 1964, 1968, 1970, 1976, 1996 and 1999.

Skiing on Hampstead Heath on 24 December 1938 during a wintry spell.

Skiing on Hampstead Heath on Christmas Eve in 1938 during a wintry spell - Credit: Topfoto/PA Images

However, the idea of a traditional white Christmas - with snow on the ground - is much rarer. 

According to a Met Office report, "winters were particularly persistent and severe" from 1550-1850, and "frost air" was last held on the River Thames in 1813/14.

Raphael Park, Romford, in the snow on Sunday. Picture: Dara Khaled

Raphael Park, Romford, in the snow on Sunday - Credit: Dara Khaled

In the UK, "Dickensian scenes" of widespread snow on Christmas Day have only been seen four times since 1960: 1981, 1995, 2009 and 2010. 

An Alpine scene on London's Hampstead Heath 1955, where heavy snowfall had these two skiers happy in

An Alpine scene on London's Hampstead Heath 1955, where heavy snowfall had these two skiers happy - Credit: PA/PA Archive

Will it snow on Christmas Day in London?

This year, bookmakers have started taking bets, with William Hill placing the odds on east London's City Airport seeing snow on the 25th as six to one.

Gambling.com has the probability of snow in London on December 25 at 16.7 per cent; comparatively Aberdeen is set at 26.7pc. 

The swan got stuck in the snow and was taken to Woodberry Wetlands. Picture: @MPSHackney

The swan got stuck in the snow and was taken to Woodberry Wetlands. Picture: @MPSHackney - Credit: Archant

The Met Office says the likelihood of experiencing a white Christmas increases the further north you are and also the higher up in elevation you are.  

Some of London's highest points that are most likely to see snow include the Flagstaff at Hampstead Heath - by Whitestone Pond - and North Hill in Highgate. 

Forecaster Weatherquest added: "This year, it’s going to be very difficult to say if snow will occur in a specific place on a specific day over three weeks in advance, so realistically it’s impossible to say this far out.

"But with renewed pulses of cold air at times through December then there will likely be other opportunities for a little snow to fall in some places, as we’ve seen over this past weekend. Whether this coincides with the big day itself remains to be seen."