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Bank Holidays in the UK

We are in the very early stages of trip planning to the UK next year. We plan to be there at least the entire month of May and perhaps a bit more at either end. Rick's guide books say to circle the Monday bank holidays in red, so I am trying to follow that advice. I am assuming that we do not want to be traveling on or around those days especially around big cities. Does anyone have suggestions as to where we might want to be (or not be) at those times. I have read some postings about highway travel advisories this past month (May 2013).

Posted by
237 posts

Personal experiences: We were in Salisbury for a Monday Bank holiday and while the city itself was busy with shoppers and people out and about a lot of restaurants and smaller service orientated places weren't open. Trying to find a place to eat at 8:30 at night was a real challenge and I don't think it would have been on a standard night. More recently we came into Aviemore on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend and we really almost didn't get a room for Saturday night. We were in the process of booking Friday only when someone called in to cancel Saturday as we were at the desk and we got the last room in town. So in general - expect larger crowds at popular sights or areas and expect some service places to be closed. Also be sure you know where you're staying ahead of time and don't plan on blowing into town and "wing it". Also many things like trains or buses will be on a Sunday or holiday schedules rather than weekday schedules. I'm sure there's more people can add but this was my personal take on it as a visitor.

Posted by
5669 posts

Yep, you need to the book the room in advance for bank holidays. Think Memorial Day Weekend or Labor Day Weekend and you'll know what to expect. Pam

Posted by
4693 posts

I am assuming that we do not want to be traveling on or around those days especially around big cities. While you may not want to be driving around a holiday weekend (due to traffic), spending a bank holiday in a big city is usually a non-issue. In London, some public transit is reduced due to engineering works, but most tourist sights are open.

Posted by
521 posts

Everything shuts on Christmas Day. A few places close on Easter Sunday. Apart from that, these days I think most tourism related businesses and attractions regard them as opportunities for additional trade. The roads will be busier, especially around the spring and summer holidays.

Posted by
4685 posts

regarding travel it can work in your favour. I came back from London last Monday which was a Bank Holiday and the train to Bristol that would normally be packed with commuters wasn't even half full.

Posted by
635 posts

I was in Scotland for the early May bank holiday this year. I didn't notice anything I would consider "crowds and congestion." I've heard horror stories about trying to drive the major motorways during the bank holidays in England but I've never tried it myself.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks for everyone's input; this gives me a good perspective on my planning.