2020 hasn’t exactly turned out the way most of us thought it would, to say the least. With the global coronavirus pandemic turning the world on its head, most of us were forced to change our plans for the year in some way or another. Flights came to a standstill, weddings were postponed and family holidays cancelled.
Needless to say, we could all do with something to look forward to. And if you’re smart, you’ll want to put your leave in early so you can make the most of those somewhat rare days off.
Whether you’re planning for some far-flung holiday in an exotic destination (here’s hoping) or a simple family get-together, here’s a list of all the bank holidays in 2021 to look forward to.
Calendars at the ready!
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How many bank holidays are there in 2021?
England and Wales have the standard 8 bank holidays.
Scotland has an extra day off for St Andrew’s Day, giving them 9 bank holidays. Scots also celebrate their summer bank holiday on Monday 2nd August instead of Monday 30th August as in England and Wales.
Northern Ireland has two more bank holidays than England and Wales, namely St Patrick’s Day and Battle of the Boyne (Orangemen’s Day). This gives them 10 bank holidays for 2021.
When are the UK bank holidays in 2021?
Like every other calendar year in the UK, if a bank holiday falls on a weekend, a ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a bank holiday, usually on the following Monday.
Most bank holidays in 20201 fall on a Monday, except for one of the biggest holidays of the year – Christmas. Both Christmas and Boxing Day in 2021 will be substitute days on the 27th and 28th of December respectively. That means four consecutive days off over Christmas. Yay!
As such, the bank holidays for 20201 are:
Friday 1 January: New Year’s Day
Wednesday 17 March: St Patrick’s Day: (Northern Ireland only)
Friday 2 April: Good Friday
Monday 5 April: Easter Monday
Monday 3 May: Early May Bank Holiday:
Monday 31 May: Spring Bank Holiday
Monday 12 July: Battle of the Boyne (Orangemen’s Day) (Northern Ireland only)
Monday 2 August: Summer Bank Holiday: (Scotland only)
Monday 30 August: Summer Bank Holiday
Tuesday 30 November: St Andrew’s Day (Scotland only)
Monday 27 December: Christmas Day (substitute day)
Tuesday 28 December: Boxing Day (substitute day)
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.
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.
Extra Bank Holiday Excitement for 2022
While we’ve still got some time to wait, everyone can look forward to a four-day Bank Holiday weekend in 2022. This is to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, a celebration of her 70 year reign. This is the first time any British monarch in history has reached this momentous milestone.
The May Bank Holiday Weekend will be moved to Thursday 2 June and an additional Bank Holiday will be added to create the four-day weekend from 2nd to the 5th of June.
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 in 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.