UK National holidays have been called Bank Holidays since the late 19th century. The name originates because these were the days on which the banks were closed.
The banks are still closed on UK National holidays but not much else is. If you are planning a trip to England, Scotland or Wales that includes a national holiday, here's what you can expect:
- Banks are closed - obviously, so are Post Offices and other government offices and departments.
- Most office businesses, including travel and booking agencies are closed.
- Motorways are clogged.
- Queues at popular family attractions are longer than usual.
- Rooms may be harder to book or slightly more expensive during bank holiday weekends.
- Most, but not all, of the larger shops are open. This is a bit hit or miss. Some businesses hold big, bank holiday sales events while others shut their doors. The only exceptions are Easter Sunday and Christmas Day when the law requires the larger shops to close.
- Trains, buses and the London Underground operate reduced services so it is important to plan Bank Holiday travel on public transportation carefully.
Bank Holiday CalendarAs in the other countries, the popularity of long holiday weekends in the UK has meant that few Bank Holidays fall on exactly the same dates from one year to the next.
- New Year's Day January 1 or the Monday immediately following January 1
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- May Bank Holiday First Monday in May
- Spring Bank Holiday Last Monday in May
- Summer Bank Holiday Last Monday in August
- Christmas Day Or the Monday immediately following if Christmas falls on a weekend.
- Boxing Day The day after Christmas, or the Monday following if 26 December falls on a weekend.
Northern Ireland celebrates two additional Bank Holidays:
- St. Patrick's Day March 17 or the nearest Monday if it falls on a weekend.
- Battle of the Boyne (Orangemen's Day) July 12 or the nearest Monday if it falls on a weekend.