When does winter start? Official first day of winter, according to the Met Office

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A ewe and two lambs in the snow in Penrith, Cumbria (Owen Humphreys/PA)
A ewe and two lambs in the snow in Penrith, Cumbria (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Most people associate the seasons with the most common weather of that time of year.

Cold weather means winter, hot weather means summer, and the in-between stages are autumn and spring.

However, there are actually defined dates that mark the start of the seasons and winter is just a few months away.

Here’s a look at when winter officially starts, including why there’s two different dates.

When does winter start?

The definition of when winter actually starts changes depending on what kind of winter you’re talking about.

The astronomical winter is affected by the Earth’s axis and how it orbits around the Sun.

In 2022, astronomical winter will begin on December 21, 2022 and end on March 20, 2023.

The astronomical seasons also decide the equinoxes and solstices.

However, the meteorological definition of the seasons is decided by the calendar, with the first day of winter always falling on December 1 and ending on the last day of February.

By contrast, the astronomical winter changes each year, falling on December 22 in 2023.

When is the winter solstice?

The first day of the astronomical winter is also known as the winter solstice. This means that the winter solstice falls on December 21 in 2022.