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August Bank Holiday

August Bank Holiday 2017 and 2018

The August Bank Holiday falls on the last Monday of August across the UK, except in Scotland where the holiday is held on the first Monday of August. In 2017, the August Bank Holiday dates are 28 August and 7 August respectively.

20177 AugMonAugust Bank HolidayScotland
28 AugMonAugust Bank HolidayEngland, Northern Ireland & Wales
20186 AugMonAugust Bank HolidayScotland
27 AugMonAugust Bank HolidayEngland, Northern Ireland & Wales

Originally, the holiday was on the Scottish date for the whole UK, but in 1971, after a five-year trial period, it was permanently moved to the final Monday of August in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The August Bank Holiday was instituted by the Bank Holidays Act of 1871 to give bankers a day off so they could participate in cricket matches. Since then, however, its significance has greatly expanded beyond those narrow limits. Now, it is a day intended to give workers of all stripes a three-day weekend before the summer holidays end and employees must return to the workplace and students to their schools.

The August Bank Holiday is pre-eminently a time for getting out of the house and vacationing. Many UK citizens travel all over the UK, to Ireland, to the European mainland, or beyond during this time. Thus, it is a very busy period as far as traffic is concerned, both within the UK and internationally.

Many others vacation more locally, heading off to local parks, beaches, nature reserves, and attractions that usually are only visited by the tourists. Of course, this all depends on the weather, and a rainy, unpleasant August Holiday is a reason to feel rather penned up.

In the UK, most shops remain open on the August Bank Holiday, but they reduce their operating hours to Sunday standards, which in the UK means six. Some stores, however, do shut down for the weekend, and schools and most non-retail businesses are generally closed. Public transportation still runs, but again, it follows the reduced Sunday schedule.

Should you tour the UK during the August Bank Holiday, some ideas on what to do are given below for your consideration:

  • In London, attend what is probably the number one August Bank Holiday event in the whole UK, the Notting Hill Carnival on Portobello Road. It is the largest street fest is all Europe, drawing one to two million attendees each year, and it is the second-biggest street carnival on the planet. The festival was founded in 1964 by London’s Caribbean community to celebrate Caribbean culture, and it maintains that Caribbean flavour to the present day. There are numerous fun and entertaining events, colourful costumes, and a grand parade to look forward to.
  • Also in London, if you have penchant for “mind games,” you may want to attend the Mind Sports Olympiad, where you can compete against other minds for gold, silver, and bronze medals in over 60 board game tournaments. Expect to find classic games like chess, Monopoly, and Scrabble but also newer additions Settlers of Catan.
  • Tour the historic city of York in northeastern England. This is a city that was founded in Roman times, and its ancient city walls still stand. In fact, you can stand on them and walk on them all the way in a circuit around the old city, while viewing the scenic River Ouse down below. Also a treat for all August Holiday tourists who double as history lovers will be the Medieval Gothic cathedral with its priceless stained glass windows and still-in-use bell towers and the King Richard III exhibit at the Monk Bar Gate.
  • Head out to the Snowdonia region of Wales, which lies in the the northwest corner up against the Irish Sea. The region is mountainous, like much of Wales, and bestrewn with a glaciers. Much of the area is now part of the Snowdonia National Park. You can take the modern Snowdon Mountain Railway to the top of Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in all Wales, or if you feel a bit nostalgic, you can ride on the old-style Ffestiniog Railway in Gwynedd. The park offers tremendous views of the sea, and has dozens of mountain lakes amid its numerous towering peaks.
  • Go to Edinburgh, Scotland, for “August Festival,” which is a collective name for a number of distinct festivals taking place there throughout the month of August. Most of them last for the greater part of the month and run during August Bank Holiday Weekend. The “main event” is the Edinburgh International Festival, which has run since 1947. It offers musical, dance, and dramatic performances from all over the world. A new outgrowth of this festival, called “Edinburgh Fringe” offers the same fare if in a different style. Since 2004, the Edinburgh Art Festival has given access to dozens of art galleries throughout Edinburgh with special exhibits and tours. We mention two more: the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Charlotte Square and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Edinburgh Castle.

There are numerous UK events going on around the time of the August Bank Holiday, none of which really connect to any central theme, for this holiday has none. All of them, however, are things to get out of the house and do while the summer weather still lasts.