If, like me, you have visited the USA, you will have come across the comment, "I visited Britain but it was shut", and although we have far more open now than we used to, with some 24 hour supermarkets and some longer opening petrol stations, we still experience many tourist attractions and the like not opening until mid morning and shutting before we even get to the evening. Many of us during the winter period assume that many if not all attractions such down during the winter period, but this is not the case, there are many that open all year round albeit with many having shorter days, needing to shut before it gets dark, and/or less days open during the week, while many do just decide to shut down for the winter months, some of course have to on safety grounds.
For those attractions and facilities within the UK that are open all year we have been able to identify we have produced a listing of some of them. There are probably others, that over time we will discover, but its quite an impressive list already, with far more open than we realised over the winter period. The list we have created concentrates primarily on the heritage attractions that are open all of the year.
Beyond the places on this list, there are many places that have Open Access all of the year for example many heritage sites that have no entry fees, abbeys and cathedrals, coastlines, national parks, paths and trails and so on.
In all of the location guides on this website we have, as far as we have been able, showed the dates and times each place is open and so further places may be able to be identified from this. Although we don't have a full list of locations guides you can access them either alphabetically by name or by topic, although probably the most convenient way is to use the county index, that way you can find out about those places open closest to you. Don't forget we have far more identified within our various listings.
A number of other places that are not open can still be photographed through the winter months, and in some cases this is beneficial. For example trees block the view of some windmills and the like and in the winter with no leaves this is far less of a problem. Often there are no cars or people, and you may be able to get views that would be difficult when they are busy with tourists.
Winter Weather and Light
The weather in Britain varies a lot, there are poor weather days in the summer and some really good days in the winter. Quite a lot of winter days have sun but there are also attractive clouds.
For some totally unexplained reason, many photographers pack their camera away for the winter months, and miss all the great opportunities that are available. It may be that they think everything is closed or have just got into a groove, and not realised what opportunities are available.
Often the light is good, and where in the summer you may have to get up very early or stay out late to see a sunrise or sunset, in the winter months you can do this type of photography and still get a decent nights sleep. Similarly the low angle of the sun in the winter months gives a light that is, to some, more pleasing for landscapes, and gives the ground and features a less flat effect.
The Down Side
There is a down side to photography in the winter. It can be cold, supporting places like cafes and restaurants may not be open, and even sometimes public toilets are locked. The other disadvantage is that the days are shorter so you have less hours of photography in a day, or can cover less places.
Special photography opportunities in the winter
Snow scenes, ice, icicles, frost, frost on cobwebs, waterfalls in full flow, perhaps some waves breaking over the sea front are scenes that come to mind that are most effective or only possible in winter.
But there are also wildlife features like, swans that migrate here for the winter, floodlit feeds of swans, and a variety of other migratory birds found in the UK only in the winter months.
Getting away to a cottage and in other ways costs far less out of season, and if you hunt around you will find some really affordable deals. Where you don't, just call and ask what winter special prices they have. There is often a lot more negotiating room when they are aware that if you don't book it ,the room will be empty. Even large groups give their receptionists a range of prices that they can offer, so never take the first price being offered. Generally this is an area we in Britain could learn from those in other countries, most in Briton are not inclined to haggle or do deals, often just taking the first price asked.
The winter months offer great photographic opportunities, it's cost effective to stay away, and far more is available to be photographed than most appreciate.
So this winter rather than packing your camera away until the spring, make a list of the photographs that you would like to get, get out and enjoy getting them.