If you’re studying in England, you’re going to encounter something called a “bank holiday.” If you’ve never experienced a bank holiday before, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know.
A bank holiday is a public holiday when banks and many other businesses close. The origins date back to 1871, when Sir John Lubbock introduced the Bank Holidays Act as a way of separating the days from other religious holidays.
Most bank holidays are on the same date every year. For example New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. However, others vary slightly each year so it’s worth checking the official gov.uk website to get the correct dates.
For example, in 2018, these are the following bank holiday dates:
1st January – New Year’s Day
30th March – Good Friday
2nd April – Easter Monday
7th May – Early May bank holiday
28th May – Spring bank holiday
27th August – Summer bank holiday
25th December – Christmas Day
26th December – Boxing Day
If a bank holiday falls on a weekend, then the bank holiday is observed on the next weekday.
Traditionally, every establishment would shut on a bank holiday. This included banks, offices, shops and restaurants.
However, these days, only banks are required to shut and it’s optional for other places to close or remain open. A lot of places do remain open but you need to check individual stores to find out whether they are closed or not on specific bank holidays.
Most things do close on Christmas Day however.
People who have to work on a bank holiday usually either get extra pay, or an extra day’s holiday to take at another time. If you’re working a part-time job whilst you’re studying, you need to check with your employer regarding bank holidays.
Many people choose to take holidays or long weekends when bank holidays occur. So you can expect holiday spots or tourist destinations to be very busy during this time. These include places which remain open such as museums, zoos, galleries and theme parks.
Public transport, including trains and buses, can be affected on a bank holiday. Not only are the roads busier but most public transport departments operate on a revised timetable. Some transportation doesn’t run on specific bank holidays such as Christmas Day. If you need to use public transport on a bank holiday you need to check with the individual company. If they’re not running you should be able to use a taxi service.
Do you have any more questions regarding English traditions and customs? Our English Language School advisers will be more than happy to help.