/ Travel & Leisure

Give us more bank holidays!

Man lying on grass

A Government official has proposed moving the May bank holiday to the autumn. But don’t most of us want more bank holidays rather than just switching the existing ones around?

In a bid to prolong the UK tourist season, Tourism Minister John Penrose has suggested having an autumn bank holiday to replace the current May Day.

‘Tourism businesses in the UK are brilliant at providing a quality experience for their customers all year round, but Government should play its part in helping them do so.’

‘An autumn bank holiday, possibly to be branded as a new ‘UK Day’, would not only help the industry, but also give us all a new focus for celebrating the best of what this country does, and all the things that make us a world-class nation,’ he said.

More holidays instead of switched ones

At first glance the idea of a UK Day bank holiday sounds great, but the proposal would see the total number of bank holidays remain the same, with the May Day bank holiday simply shifting to later in the year.

Surely we need more bank holidays – not just switched ones? Compared to some European countries the UK is pretty stingy when it comes to bank holidays, so would one extra day really hurt?

I also wonder what impact switching the May Day holiday might have on tourism and business during this month. There’s already criticism from some quarters, suggesting businesses build their schedule around this holiday – so could a switch actually have an adverse effect?

And what about the new date in the autumn – rather than boost UK tourism it could simply encourage people to head to the Canaries for a bit of sunshine – especially if it’s close to the October half term.

Do we have a say?

John Penrose makes it clear that before the issue is taken further, everyone’s views should be heard:

‘If people decide they’d rather hang on to the May Day holiday, then so be it, but we ought to consider the options in a sensible way before the country reaches a collective decision. A national conversation on the issue would give everyone the chance to have their say.’

So let’s make a start and get sharing our views – would you prefer a bank holiday in May or October – or both?


May is the loveliest time of the year and as such it is a really good time to have a holiday.
Don’t take that away from us.

I agree that May often has good weather , but when Easter is late the bank holidays seem to come one after another and coincide with the run up to school exams.

The big question is what do people use bank holidays for nowadays and therefore when do they want them ?

Sophie Gilbert says:
16 February 2011

Something not to forget is that in this country we do not have a statutory right to paid leave on bank and public holidays. If employers give paid leave on bank or public holidays, this can count towards the minimum holiday entitlement. Some employers have indeed “done away” with bank and public holidays. They simply give their employees a certain number of days’ holiday to take per year and when the employees take them is up to them. Having a bank holiday in May or October or both or none won’t matter a hoot to them.

Otherwise I would tend to agree with Kate and Liz. May is such a lovely time of year, and I see the danger of a bank holiday in October instead of May tempting a lot of people to the Canaries to escape the autumn dreichness.

Just looked up in the diary – we have Easter Monday on 25th April then next Monday 2nd is May Day (is that Labour Day?) then Whitsun at the end of May. Ridiculous – Make May Day into October Day when we need to be cheered up to face the onset of winter with no break now from August to Christmas

Bank holidays are a nuisance, the roads are choked with traffic and everywhere is so crowded, I wonder why people are so keen on them.

For heavens sake just get on with it and move the May holiday to October. August to Xmas is a long haul, whilst there are so many holidays in April/May that its a nightmare for businesses, particularly small ones, to achieve any sense of continuity.

Connie says:
16 February 2011

I can’t believe these people are giving arguments to have one or the other. Let’s have both

Given that the May Day Bank Holiday (which only falls on May Day if May 1st happens to be a Monday) originally was a day of festivities to celebrate the end of the winter, and that amongst the earliest of these festivals were a Celtic and a British Pagan festival, it is somewhat ironic to hear anyone suggest a replacement holiday at a different time of year should be called “UK” day and should celebrate all things UK.

Methinks the proposer does not know his history very well!

As for whether I agree or not, personally I would rather keep May Day, even though I acknowledge the potential inconveniences when Easter falls late (as this year) because a) it is an historical festival date and b) the Autumn can be beautiful, but it can also be miserable, and regardless of the weather, the hours of daylight ARE shorter in the Autumn. May is a much better option.

It’s always seemed strange to me that many of our bank holidays come at once! I like the idea of moving one to Autumn. It should minimise the effect on businesses too – one standalone day is likely to have much less overall effect than a number of bank holidays in quick succession.

Oliver says:
2 April 2011

May Day is one of our oldest and richest native traditions. Proposing to dismantle our cultural heritage in the name of tourism is a very odd idea indeed. To see a sample of the many colourful traditions associated with May Day (with loads of photos), please visit: http://www.facebook.com/savemayday

Derek says:
2 April 2011

The only reason for the Tory’s wanting this day moved is their misguided obsession with it’s supposed connection to Communist celebrations. They are wrong about this as in everything else in there little minds. You notice how he never said, ‘we need an extra day because we don’t get as many as we should’.

John says:
2 April 2011

Instead of moving the May Day holiday to the Autumn how about giving all workers one extra day of leave so they can take it when they want?

stgeorgesholiday.com says:
14 May 2011

I’m Campaign Organiser for the St George Unofficial Bank Holiday (www.stgeorgesholiday.com), and the full proposal from the government is to replace May Day bank holiday with either St George’s Day or a UK/Trafalgar Day in October.

We have always supported the idea of an EXTRA bank holiday on 23 April (St George’s Day). We are not in favour of the government proposal to move May Day, as we see this as the traditional day of Spring celebration for Morris Dancers (a big part of English culture).

In addition, England has fewer bank holidays than all the big European countries so an additional day would bring us closer to equality.

Our view on Trafalgar Day is that it would be a British celebration, not English; therefore we do not support it. In addition the press would have a great time digging all the skeleton’s out of Lord Nelson’s cupboard each year – he was having an affair with a married woman, we slaughtered French and Spanish sailors (not very EU friendly), sailors were regularly flogged under his command and he opposed the abolition of the slave trade. Has anyone in government thought this through?

We also forsee problems in getting the full backing of the government and people of Scotland for a UK celebration, particularly in view of the resounding success recently of the SNP and their commitment to a referendum on independence. Plus we cannot imagine many Union Jacks being waved by Irish catholics in the Falls Road.

In truth, any ‘British’ celebration would only serve to highlight how the Union is disunited. Ask a Scotsman his nationality and he will say “Scottish”, ask a Welshman and he will say “Welsh” – only the English refer to themselves as British. Britain used to be a club with four members, now it has only one – England.

Malcolm says:
23 May 2011

Over the country as a whole, October is the wettest month of the year, and the second half of the month is the wetter half. A public holiday at that time makes no sense.

If the spring holidays seem too closely bunched together, why not consider moving the LATE May holiday into June? We do this anyway each time there is a royal jubilee (it’s being moved into June next year), so why can’t it be in June every year? The late May holiday has no meaning in any case: it is not Whitsun, as many people still think it is – Whit Monday was scrapped in the 1960s and replaced with the meaningless Spring Bank Holiday. (Whitsun falls seven weeks after Easter, so this year it is on June 12th!) May Day, on the other hand, does have a meaning and is part of our history.