Freezing temperatures in March made it the UK's joint second coldest since records began more than 100 years ago, the Met Office has said.
The mean temperature was just 2.2C (36F) - more than 3C colder than the long-term monthly average.
Last month matched the average temperature in March 1947 - only March 1962 was colder at 1.9C (35F).
March was also much drier than usual with 62.1mm (2.4in) of rain, 65% of the historical average for the month.
Scotland was yet more parched with only 35% of its normal downpours.
The amount of sunshine was slightly down for the UK with 82.9 hours for the month which is 81% of the average.
Among the UK's nations, average temperatures in March were 2.6 C in England, 1.3 C in Scotland, 2.4 C in Wales and 2.8 C in Northern Ireland.
In what the Met Office described as an "unusual turn", March 2013 was colder than the three preceding winter months. This last happened in 1975.
Forecasters said the cold, dry conditions were set to continue for the time being - but milder and more unsettled weather was expected next week.
Average temperatures across the UK are set to reach 7C to 8C (44F to 46F) on Saturday and 9C (48F) on Sunday.
By next week they should be back to normal for April at about 11C (51F).
The Met Office's Dan Williams said: "What we'll see is temperatures going much closer to the average but we'll see more unsettled weather with it, about with some brighter, drier spells."
BBC weather forecaster Jay Wynne said it would be staying cold but mostly dry over the next few days.
High pressure to the north of the UK would continue to drag cold wind in from the near continent, he added.
In contrast, March last year saw people take to the beach with temperatures in places reaching the low 20s degrees.