Public holidays in the UK

UK public holidays

After arriving in the UK, you will find that there are many holidays in the UK every year. As a student, you will enjoy long Easter holidays, summer holidays, and Christmas holidays. But there are also public holidays that are enjoyed by the country as a whole - workers and students alike!

Each year, there are 8 fixed public holidays. Bank holidays account the most of those holidays. Although bank holidays are public holidays, British law does not explicitly state that people are not allowed to work on those days. In practice, most non-retail companies will close on bank holidays, and all banks are definitely closed on those days (as you might expect!).

The origin of bank holidays can be traced back to 1834, and it really did start with the banks. Prior to 1834, the Bank of England set about 33 religious festivals as holidays. In 1834, these holidays were reduced to only 4: 1st May, 1st November, Good Friday and Christmas Day. In 1871, a banker named Sir John Lubbock officially submitted a proposal for setting bank holidays as national public holidays, and the proposal passed. The dates of bank holidays fixed at that time were: (for England): Easter Monday, Whit Monday, the first Monday of August and Boxing Day; and (for Scotland): New Year, Good Friday, the first Monday of May, the first Monday of August and Christmas Day. Bank holidays were later expanded to what we enjoy today.

Most bank holidays are always on Mondays (except New Year, Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day), which means that people can enjoy a three-day weekend. In addition, some schools, libraries and shops are closed. Therefore, we recommend that you find out the opening hours of shops and supermarkets in advance and prepare your food shopping beforehand, if necessary.

UK Public Holidays in 2015

1 January Thursday New Year's Day
3 April Friday Good Friday
6 April Monday Easter Monday
4 May Early May bank holiday
25 May Spring bank holiday
31 August Summer bank holiday
25 December Christmas Day
28 December Boxing Day (substitute day)

UK Public Holidays in 2016

25 March
28 March
2 May
30 May
29 August
26 December Boxing Day
27 December Tuesday

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