The White Christmas Map

The mental image of a White Christmas is iconic, beautiful, irreplaceable. It's also a rare symbol of true, pure British optimism.

The chance of seeing snowfall on Christmas Day is still as depressingly low as it ever was, let alone witnessing a beautiful white blanket on Christmas morn.

But just how low are those chances, I hear you ask?

6%. Based on historic December snowfall, the chances of us in England seeing snow on Christmas Day is 6%.

But where should you head if you want to see a fabulous White Christmas - and which countries are even more hopeless than ours?

White Christmas MapWhite Christmas Chart

England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are all remarkably close together, but there is a definitive ranking:

  1. Scotland - 7.26%
  2. England - 6.05%
  3. Northern Ireland - 5.24%
  4. Wales - 3.63%
  5. Ireland - 3.23%

Somewhat bizarrely, there's only one country with exactly the same chance of snow on Christmas Day as England - Afghanistan. Who'd have thunk it?

Russia (60.89%), Belarus (52.82%) and Finland and Estonia (49.19%) officially top the tables when it comes to the likelihood of a White Christmas - and there are a whopping 127 countries with a veritable zero percent chance.

Across Europe, Iceland (42.3%), Norway (42.3%), Sweden (32.3%), Poland (28.2%) and the Czech Republic (26.2%) make for some of the more picturesque destinations if you want to see shimmering snow on your Christmas morning.

Bizarrely, there's still hope for Monaco, Italy and Albania - who cling on with a 0.4% chance of snow (or one in every 250 Christmases).

On the other end of the spectrum, 127 countries have a 0% chance of seeing a White Christmas based on historic December snowfall - that's almost 65% of countries around the world.

Believe it or not there's actually an official definition for what constitutes 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

Pretty simple, really. The Met Office traditionally used the Met Office building in London as its marker, but betting on White Christmas resulted in alternate sites being included, including the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and Coronation Street in Manchester.

In terms of the UK and Ireland specifically, there's also a city-by-city ranking for countries most likely to see snow:

  1. Stirling (Scotland) - 12.9%
  2. Aberdeen (Scotland) - 12.5%
  3. Inverness (Scotland) - 11.29%
  4. Bradford (England) - 10.48%
  5. Newry (Northern Ireland), Carlisle (England) and Wolverhampton (England) - 8.47%

White Christmas Chart - UK

Unsurprisingly, it's t'up North racking up the snow days,  though with Wolverhampton representing in tied 5th place (and Birmingham in 6th) the Midlands could potentially see more than its fair share.

Down South is much less likely to see a White Christmas, with Truro, Swansea, Plymouth, Southampton and Exeter all sitting below 3% chance - though Swansea shows Welsh hopes aren't too high, and Waterford and Galway prove Ireland isn't looking too likely either (2.42% each).

We also wanted to take a look across the US to discover which states have higher hopes of a White Christmas - apparently our 'murican brothers love the concept of a White Christmas as much as we do.

Who's looking at snowy streets Stateside, then?

  1. Alaska - 66.1%
  2. Vermont - 56.1%
  3. Minnesota - 41.1%
  4. Michigan, Montana, North Dakota - 35.5%
  5. Wisconsin - 35.1%

Of course, this is still going on the classic British definition of a white Christmas - if Alaska isn't already covered in snow on Christmas day, then something has gone severely wrong.

White Christmas MapWhite Christmas Chart - USA

Countries Most Likely to See a White Christmas

Country Percentage Chance
Russia 60.89%
Belarus 52.82%
Finland 49.19%
Estonia 49.19%
Lithuania 48.39%
Greenland 47.18%
Kazakhstan 43.95%
Canada 43.55%
Ukraine 43.15%
Iceland 42.34%
Norway 42.34%
Latvia 39.52%
Liechtenstein 33.87%
Sweden 32.26%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 32.26%
Poland 28.23%
Czech Republic 26.21%
Andorra 24.60%
Bulgaria 24.19%
Kosovo 24.19%

Full data available here.

UK Cities Most Likely to See a White Christmas

City Country Percentage Chance
Stirling Scotland 12.90%
Aberdeen Scotland 12.50%
Inverness Scotland 11.29%
Bradford England 10.48%
Newry Northern Ireland 8.47%
Carlisle England 8.47%
Wolverhampton England 8.47%
Birmingham England 8.06%
Portsmouth England 8.06%
Armagh Northern Ireland 7.66%
Dundee Scotland 7.66%
Newcastle upon Tyne England 7.26%
Derby England 7.26%
Edinburgh Scotland 7.26%
Glasgow Scotland 6.85%
York England 6.85%
Leicester England 6.45%
Bangor Wales 6.45%
Cambridge England 6.45%
Durham England 6.45%
Oxford England 6.45%
Peterborough England 6.45%
Stoke-on-Trent England 6.45%
Wells England 6.45%

Full data available here.

US States Most Likely to See a White Christmas

State State Capital Percentage Chance
Alaska Juneau 66.13%
Vermont Montpelier 56.05%
Minnesota Saint Paul 41.13%
Michigan Lansing 35.48%
Montana Helena 35.48%
North Dakota Bismarck 35.48%
Wisconsin Madison 35.08%
Utah Salt Lake City 31.45%
Nevada Carson City 30.65%
Idaho Boise 28.63%
South Dakota Pierre 26.61%
Maine Augusta 26.21%
Iowa Des Moines 24.19%
Wyoming Cheyenne 24.19%
New Mexico Santa Fe 23.39%
Indiana Indianapolis 22.58%
West Virginia Charleston 22.58%
New York Albany 21.77%
Ohio Columbus 20.56%
New Hampshire Concord 19.76%

Full data available here.


Data collected from World Weather Online.

Each country's chance of snowfall was calculated from 8 years of December snowfall data - 2009 through 2016 - in each country's capital city.

The total number of days of snowfall in December in each year were added together to work out the percentage chance of snow falling on a typical December day.

You can find the data in full via this link.

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