When are public holidays in the UK?

holiday-oliver-symens
photo: Oliver Symens

Another thing that makes the United Kingdom different from some other countries is that there are fewer official holidays, and of course this affects your annual holiday days when it’s time to plan, in addition to meaning that you can’t take extra-long weekends the way you can with public holidays that are close together.

In Spain, there are 14 holiday days: national, autonomic and local ones.

In the United Kingdom, there are eight total public holidays, or bank holidays. Although there are a few variations between the different countries within the UK, especially in Scotland.

UK PUBLIC HOLIDAYS 2015

1 January
New Year’s Day
National

3 April
Good Friday
National

6 April
Easter Monday
National, except for Scotland

4 May
Early May Bank Holiday
Nacional

25 May
Spring Bank Holiday
National

31 August
Summer Bank Holiday
National, except for Scotland

25 December
Christmas Day
National

26 December
Boxing Day *
National

28 December
Boxing Day (Substitute Day)
National

*When a bank holiday (Boxing Day, in 2015), falls on a weekend, the holiday happens the following Monday. That’s why 28 December is a “substitute” day and a holiday.

It’s fairly easy to remember in most cases. For example:

  • New Year’s Day… holiday. This one’s easy.
  • The Friday before Easter and the following Monday.
  • The first and last Mondays in May, always.
  • The last Monday in August.
  • Christmas and 26 December, when sales start in the UK.

Holidays in Scotland

In addition to those on the list before, there are a few variations between the English and Welsh calendar:

Holidays in Northern Ireland

These are the different days with respect to the rest of the UK:

Easter Week

For those who don’t already know, the United Kingdom also celebrates Easter. Here the week leading up to it is called Easter Week or Holy Week. The holidays are called Good Friday and Easter Monday. In 2015 they were on 3/6 April and in 2016 they’ll be on 25/28 March. Schools close for a couple weeks and many British tourists head to Spain to enjoy the sun.

Other important days that ARE NOT holidays

Some countries have a lot of saints’ days that are public holidays and so you can take long weekends. It’s the opposite in the UK: they celebrate and organize parties, but after work. We’re just that dedicated…

While I’m at it, here’s the list of holidays in 2016:

1 Jan
Friday
New Year’s Day
UK

4 Jan
Monday

2 January
Scotland

17 Mar
Thursday
St Patrick’s Day
Northern Ireland

25 Mar
Friday
Good Friday
UK

28 Mar
Monday
Easter Monday
UK, except for Scotland

2 May
Monday
Early May Bank Holiday
UK

30 May
Monday
Spring Bank Holiday
UK

12 Jul
Tuesday
Orangemen’s Day
Northern Ireland

1 Agos
Monday
Summer Bank Holiday
Scotland

29 Agos
Monday
Summer Bank Holiday
UK, except for Scotland

30 Nov
Wednesday
St. Andrew’s Day
Scotland

25 Dec
Sunday
Christmas Day
UK

26 Dec
Monday
Boxing Day
UK

27 Dec
Tuesday
Christmas Day *(Substitute Day)
UK

If you have any questions in the future, you can look up public holidays on the following websites:

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