When do the clocks go forward in 2020?

Marking the start of British Summer Time, the clocks 'spring forward' in March, meaning we'll lose an hour's sleep.

In spring 2020 the clocks go forward on 29 March at 1am

On the last Sunday of March the clocks 'spring forward': they go forward by one hour. There may still be a chill in the air but this marks the beginning of British Summer Time (BST). 

When do the clocks go back?

Find out more about British Summer Time

Will I lose or gain an hour? 

Unfortunately, the spring forward means that we lose an hour in bed. 

Why do the clocks go forward?

The clocks go back for the summer because of a campaign at the beginning of the 20th Century to change the clocks during the summer months to avoid wasting time in the morning. It meant we could use more valuable hours of daylight. 

Why do the clocks change on the weekend?

This pattern of change was chosen because it occurs on a Saturday night/Sunday morning and would be the least disruptive option for schools and businesses. To maximise the benefit of having extra daylight, it matches the warmest and longest days of the year.
An easy way to remember which way the clocks change is to think ‘Spring forward' and 'fall back'.

Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge
Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge

Will my phone automatically update the time?

Most devices with internet connection, such as smart phones, should automatically update themselves. However, watches and clocks in cars and kitchens, for example, won't change automatically so make sure you are ready to wind forward.

Do other countries change the clocks?

About 70 countries have some form of daylight saving time, but it varies from region to region.

Much of Europe and North America, as well as parts of South America and Australasia, change their clocks. However, many countries in Africa and Asia situated around the equator do not change the time.

In the USA the clocks go forward on 8 March 2020, but not all states change their clocks. Arizona does not use DST (apart from the semi-autonomous Navajo Nation), and neither does Hawaii.

History of daylight saving

1784 - Benjamin Franklin first suggested the idea of daylight saving time in a whimsical article.

1907 - An Englishman and keen horse rider, William Willett campaigned to advance clocks in spring and summer and return them in the autumn. His rather complicated plan was to advance clocks by 80 minutes, in 4 separate moves of 20 mins each.

1908 - The House of Commons rejected a Bill to advance the clocks by one hour during the spring and summer months.

1916 - The Summer Time Act was passed, ordaining that for a certain period during the year legal time should be one hour in advance of GMT. Double summer time (GMT + 2 hours) was used during the Second World War.

Find out more about the history of British Summer Time and daylight saving time in the UK and around the world

“The lost hour”

Image of The Lost Hour © Andrew Whyte
The Lost Hour © Andrew Whyte

Andrew Whyte's photo The Lost Hour was shortlisted for the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year . He was inspired by the relationship between human methods of marking time (such as BST) and astronomical phenomena:

"I set out to explore what actually happens during that hour when the clocks "spring forward" to begin British Summer Time. With time so intrinsically linked to celestial activity, a one-hour star trail seemed the perfect metaphor.

I worked out my placement and posture within the frame and could faintly hear the click of the first camera's shutter, which gave me a reference for freezing my movement.

Back home, I merged 120 sky frames in StarStaX and layered that onto the RAW-processed foreground. As for the original question: what happens during the lost hour? The world keeps turning, just like before."

The Royal Observatory Greenwich, home of time

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Harrison's marine timekeeper H4
Harrison's marine timekeeper H4