Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
It’s the same for most of us. But every once in a while, we’re treated to a little piece of gold in the year – a bank holiday.
If you’re smart, you’ll want to put your leave in early so you can make the most of those somewhat rare time-off days. Here’s every bank holiday in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this year to look forward to.
Calendars at the ready.
How many bank holidays are there in 2020?
England and Wales 8 bank holidays
Scotland 9 bank holidays
Northern Ireland 10 bank holidays
When are the UK bank holidays?
An important change to the 2020 calendar is that the May Day holiday will come early. It’s been moved back four days and changed to 8 May to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
What does that mean for you?
Instead of being held on the first Monday of May as it usually is, it’s now on a Friday to form part of a three-day weekend of commemorative events for VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Allies accepting the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany in the second world war.
The best part? Pubs, clubs and bars throughout the UK have received the nod to stay open for an extra two hours on Friday 8 May and Saturday 9 May.
Instead of hearing “last rounds” at 11 pm, you can finish off your pint at 1 am.
What stays open on bank holidays?
Depending on which bank holiday it is, some businesses will stay open, some won’t, and some may have limited opening hours.
Because it’s a bank holiday, banks are shut (duh). It’s one of the few businesses that are guaranteed to be closed, although even this is changing. Last year, Metro Bank stayed open for the May bank holiday from 11 am until 5 pm.
By law, larger shops are required to close on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day. Besides these two days, businesses are free to operate on bank holidays. In the hustle and bustle of central London, you’ll find that nearly everything stays open.
The only day that everything is really quiet is Christmas and Boxing Day. Most shops close their doors on the 25th December so don’t be that ninny who’s left running around frantically looking for a last-minute gift. Have a look our Christmas gift vouchers and get your holiday shopping done early.
In general, public transport stays open but has limited operating hours, especially over the festive season. On most Bank Holidays, the tubes and buses run on a Sunday timetable. On Christmas, there’s no public transport, and on Boxing Day and New Years, services are limited.
To make sure you’re not stranded on a bank holiday, use the Journey Planner function from Transport for London.
What are some things to do on a bank holiday?
There’s no better day to enjoy a day out in London than on a bank holiday. The city seems to come alive, with residents relishing the long weekend. But let’s not forget that everyone is on holiday, which means hordes of people everywhere.
To beat the bank holiday crowds, try some of these days out London that are far from tourist traps.
Days Out With the Kids
With all the excitement of a day off school, popular family attractions become a nightmare on bank holidays. Hordes of youngsters can be found screaming their heads off, their frazzled parents running after them trying not to lose them in the crowds.
Not what you want to be doing on your precious day off work.
If you’re looking for fun days out with the kids in London, try some of these unique family activities for some much-needed relaxing family bonding time.
- Get creative in a paper flower making workshop with Pom Pom Factory
- Have fun in a chocolate-making masterclass with MyChocolate
- Discover the secrets of the underground at the London Transport Museum
- Enjoy a magic-inspired tour of London with a magician
- Get competitive in a private group cricket lesson at Lord’s Cricket Grounds
Romantic Days Out For Couples
The temptation is there to scrap the date night, stay in bed and Netflix and chill, but a long weekend deserves more. Get out there, into the fresh air, and enjoy one (or all) of these days out for couples:
- Ride the London Eye in a Romantic Private Capsule with Michelin star dinner
- Enjoy a full-day wine tasting masterclass
- Take a private tour of Kew Gardens, with Michelin star dining
- Enjoy champagne and lunch at the top of the Shard
Fun Days Out for Friends
No one wants to be left alone on a bank holiday. They’re to be celebrated with mates! Instead of doing what you always do on a normal weekend, mix it up with one of these fun-filled experiences to share with friends.
- Learn to cook at like a Michelin star chef in a private group cooking class at Raymond Blanc Cookery School
- Go gin tasting at a gin distillery, including a gin-inspired dinner
- Get your nails done at the ultra-luxurious Dorchester Spa
- Take a London music tour with a professional musician
With only 8 to 10 bank holidays in the UK throughout the year, it’s best you make the most of them. Whatever you do, don’t waste your precious time off lazying around like you normally would.