The August Bank Holiday falls on the last Monday of August across the UK, except in Scotland where it’s held on the first Monday of the month.
|2019||5 Aug||Mon||August Bank Holiday||Scotland|
|26 Aug||Mon||August Bank Holiday||England, Northern Ireland & Wales|
|2020||31 Aug||Mon||August Bank Holiday||England, Northern Ireland & Wales|
*Please refer to this note for Scotland-specific information.
This holiday is also known as the Summer Bank Holiday. 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 bank clerks and shop people a day of relaxation not connected to holy days such as Christmas. Today, this holiday gives 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.
Sir John Lubbock, the first Lord Avebury, was responsible for seeing the enactment of the Bank Holidays Act of 1871, and the holidays the Act secured were unofficially nicknamed “St. Lubbock Days”. Of the August Bank Holiday, Sir John Lubbock wrote,
The Act, we always hoped and believed, would be generally adopted, and I have always believed that our August Bank Holiday would become the great National Holiday.
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 continent, 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.
August Bank Holiday weekend Events
The Notting Hill Carnival, 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 in 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.
August Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland: The “August Festival” 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 the 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.