UK Bank Holidays: Public Holidays in London 2023

Public holidays, also known as bank holidays in the UK, are special days when most people are given an off day from work. Originating from the term “bank” holidays because banks are closed, and if the banks are closed, then no business can be done, hence a generalized “holiday” for all.

They are set by law and recognized across the different countries of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The UK recognizes several regular public holidays each year: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Summer Bank Holiday, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.

These holidays all have their unique history, traditions, and ways of being celebrated, which adds to the cultural richness of the UK.

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However, it’s important to note that the exact dates of these holidays can change each year, especially those connected to the lunar calendar like Easter.

Also, when a holiday falls on a weekend, a ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a bank holiday.

Now, London, as one of the world’s most exciting cities, has its unique spin on these public holidays.

The energy of the city combined with the community spirit makes holidays in London an unforgettable experience. But, to get the most out of them, it’s essential to know when they fall and what you can expect.

Regular Public Holidays in the UK

The United Kingdom has a distinctive set of public holidays, familiarly known as bank holidays.

These holidays are deeply rooted in history, culture, and tradition, offering both locals and tourists unique experiences. Here is a rundown of the main public holidays celebrated across the UK:

  1. New Year’s Day (Monday, January 2nd): Celebrated with fireworks, parties, and parades on the eve of the New Year, January 1st is a day of relaxation and family time. Since January 1st falls on a Sunday, the subsequent Monday will be a bank holiday.
  2. Good Friday (Friday 7 April): This Christian holiday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It’s observed with church services and, in some places, re-enactments of the Crucifixion.
  3. Easter Monday (Monday 10 April): The day after Easter Sunday, this holiday also has Christian roots, marking the Resurrection of Jesus. Festivities often include egg hunts, family meals, and outdoor activities.
  4. Early May Bank Holiday or May Day (Monday, May 1st): This day traditionally celebrates the arrival of spring with festivals, dances, and singing. It’s also known for its political connotations as International Workers’ Day.
  5. Spring Bank Holiday (Monday, May 29th): A day off for the public to enjoy the spring weather, often marked with outdoor events and activities.
  6. Summer Bank Holiday (Monday, August 28th): The last long weekend of the summer is often celebrated with barbecues, parties, and trips to the seaside.
  7. Christmas Day (Monday, December 25th): This global Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is observed with family gatherings, gift-giving, special meals, and religious services.
  8. Boxing Day (Tuesday, December 26th): Traditionally, it was a day to give to the less fortunate. Now, it’s a public holiday typically filled with shopping, sports, and family time.

While these are the standard public holidays across the UK, specific regions might have additional local holidays.

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Also, when a public holiday falls on a weekend, a ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a bank holiday, usually the following Monday.

School Holidays in London

Understanding school holidays is essential, especially for families planning to visit or move to London.

School term dates may change from year to year and differ from school to school. Local authority-run schools and independent schools sometimes have different term dates.

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In general, the school year in London traditionally consists of three terms, with short mid-term (half-term) breaks and a longer break over the summer. Here’s a brief overview:

  1. Summer Holiday: This is the longest school break of the year. It usually starts in late July and runs until early September. It’s a fantastic time for families to take vacations, explore London’s numerous parks, or participate in one of the many summer festivals the city hosts.
  2. Autumn Half-Term: This week-long break falls in the last week of October. It’s a great time to enjoy London’s autumnal beauty, with Halloween events often being a highlight.
  3. Christmas Holidays: Schools break up in late December and resume in early January. London is beautifully lit up during this period, with many Christmas markets and events taking place around the city.
  4. Spring Half-Term: This one-week break occurs in mid-February. It’s a great time to visit the city’s museums and galleries, which often have special half-term events for children.
  5. Easter Holidays: A two-week break that falls either side of Easter Sunday. With the city blooming into spring, it’s a wonderful time for outdoor activities and Easter-themed events.
  6. Summer Half-Term: This break happens for one week at the end of May or early June. It’s another opportunity for families to take advantage of London’s many attractions and events.

Remember, these are general guidelines. For the exact dates, it’s recommended to check the respective school’s or the local council’s website. Each school holiday brings its own charm to the city of London, providing ample opportunities for families to enjoy their time together and explore the city’s rich offerings.


In conclusion, public holidays or bank holidays are deeply woven into the UK’s cultural and social fabric. These special days, each with its own significance, offer a fascinating insight into the nation’s history, traditions, and communal spirit.

London, in 2023, will be no different, with each bank holiday offering a unique experience.

Remember, these aren’t just days off work; they’re opportunities to immerse oneself in the seasonal rhythms of life in one of the world’s most exciting cities.

So, whether you’re planning a trip to London or just interested in learning more, keep an eye out for the next bank holiday to experience the UK at its best!