Will we have a White Christmas in the UK? 2023 odds and Met Office predictions

Will we have a white Christmas is the question many want to know the answer to, as the festive season approaches

A young boy dragging a Christmas tree through the snow
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's nothing quite like waking up to a blanket of snow, so it's no surprise everyone wants to know if we will have a white Christmas this year.

Christmas is just days away, and families everywhere want to know if they'll be walking in a winter wonderland on the big day. When December arrived, those wondering when it will snow in the UK this year got their answer, as flurries swept across the country. However, since then temperatures have turned decidedly milder, even though winter solstice - which brings some of the coldest days of the year with it - is on the horizon.

The changeable weather has left many wondering if they'll have a chance to get their sledges and snowsuits out on December 25 this year. If you're dreaming of a white Christmas, we've taken a look at the weather predictions for 2023 to try and work out if snow will fall on the big day this year. Here's what forecasters have said so far...

Will we have a white Christmas in the UK in 2023?

Forecasters say it's likely that some areas of the UK will experience a White Christmas this year. Usually, areas of higher ground in the north and Scotland experience some snowfall and these are the most likely areas to have a White Christmas in 2023. 

"We can say with a high degree of confidence it will be a white Christmas this year," Met Office spokesperson Grahame Madge told The Independent. "However, that does not mean we will see blankets of snow. It is more likely we will see snow in higher parts of the UK like the North Pennines or Scottish Highlands."

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A recent forecast from the Met Office explained that Christmas Day is likely to see "a pretty cloudy and damp start to southern and western areas of the UK." In the northwest, meanwhile, showers are expected, and the weather service adds, "This is where we've got the greatest chance of seeing some snow on Christmas Day, particularly over the high ground of Scotland."

For those living further south and in Wales, it looks like a White Christmas is not on the cards this year.

Where will there be a White Christmas in 2023?

According to the Met Office, the snowiest place in the UK is the Cairngorms in Scotland, with 76.2 days of snow or sleet falling on average. This area is most likely to see a white Christmas this year. 

As for the rest of the UK, it looks like a white Christmas is unlikely, judging by previous trends. 

This is because Christmas Day falls at the beginning of the period when it's likely to snow in the UK - we're more likely to see snowfall between January and March than in December.

The Met Office explains that snow or sleet falls for an average of 3.9 days in December in the UK, compared to 5.3 days in January, 5.6 days in February and 4.2 days in March.

The weather service adds that it can accurately forecast if snow is likely on any given Christmas Day up to five days beforehand, so we may have to wait a while longer to know for sure if 2023 will see a white Christmas.

A valley in the Cairngorms in Scotland covered in snow

(Image credit: Getty Images)

White Christmas odds 2023

According to Gambling.com, the odds of a white Christmas in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 2023 are 5/4 - meaning a 44% chance of seeing a white Christmas in those cities this year.

Gambling.com White Christmas betting odds:

  • Edinburgh - 5/4
  • Glasgow - 5/4
  • Aberdeen - 6/4
  • Newcastle - 15/8
  • Leeds - 5/2
  • Manchester - 4/1
  • Belfast - 5/1
  • Liverpool - 11/2
  • Birmingham - 6/1 
  • Bristol - 7/1
  • London - 8/1
  • Cardiff - 9/1

The Met Office says, "Since 1960, around half of the years have seen at least 5% of the network record snow falling on Christmas Day. This means we can probably expect more than half of all Christmas Days to be a 'white Christmas'." 

This suggests that the odds of seeing a white Christmas somewhere in the UK in 2023 are around 50%.

How much snow must fall for a white Christmas?

The definition that the Met Office uses to define a white Christmas is for one snowflake to be observed falling in the 24 hours of 25 December somewhere in the UK.

This is a different criteria to in other areas of the world. For example, in the US there must be a snow depth of at least one inch on the ground for it to be considered a white Christmas.

Snow covered field and tyre tracks

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Will there be a white Christmas in London in 2023?

The chances of a white Christmas in London are generally lower than the rest of the UK, as the urban capital has a higher temperature than other areas of the UK.

World Atlas says data from the Met Office has shown "on average, the central parts of London experience less than 10 days of snow or sleet every year...for the few days that it snows in the central parts of London, the snow rarely settles since it melts away extremely fast."

Recently, MyLondon reported the latest white Christmas odds in the capital from bookmakers BetVictor, which predicted a 10/1 chance of snow on December 25. 

However, the capital saw a good blanket of snow in the lead-up to Christmas 2022, so it's possible this year we will see a white Christmas in the city. Some snow also fell in London in the lead-up to Christmas 2021, and the capital experienced heavy snow along with the rest of the UK during the 'Beast from the East' in February 2018.

When was the last white Christmas?

According to the Met Office, 2022 was technically the last white Christmas in the UK, when rain turned to sleet (a mixture of rain and snow) in Loch Glascarnoch, Scotland.

2021 was also a white Christmas, with 6% of stations recording snow falling - though less than 1% of stations reported any snow lying on the ground. And 2020 also saw 6% of weather stations record snowfall.

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2017 saw 11% of weather stations record snow on the big day, but none reported any snow lying on the ground. 2016 and 2015 also saw some snowfall in the UK on Christmas Day.

However, many consider 2010 to be the last white Christmas in the UK, as it was the last time widespread snow was recorded. 83% of stations (the highest amount ever recorded) reported snow on the ground that year.

There has only been a widespread covering of snow on the ground (where more than 40% of stations in the UK reported snow on the ground at 9am) four times since 1960 - in 1981, 1995, 2009 and 2010.

If you're getting ready for the colder weather, you might want to find out how cold it needs to be for schools to close, and start stocking up on kids' winter bootswaterproof gloves and puddle suits.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.