2024, 2025 and 2026 Public Holidays in the United Kingdom

2024, 2025 and 2026 UK Bank Holidays

Formally recognised as holidays since 1871 (following an Act of Parliament), bank holidays were originally days when banks closed their doors. It wasn't long before other businesses began closing on these days too. In the UK, across all the islands and countries, there are a total of sixteen bank holidays each year. However, only six of these apply to all jurisdictions. Additionally, in any given year, the number of public holidays can increase depending on special Royal events. Interestingly, while bank holidays are essentially free days off, they're not always popular. Many Brits prefer more flexible holidays and the ability to choose when to take them.

When it comes to the number of bank holidays, each UK country (and some islands) can choose for themselves. This is why the numbers in England and Wales differ from Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The tradition of taking extra holidays is rooted in celebrations and religious events. With each country celebrating different religions (Catholicism being behind many of these public holidays), or having different patron saints, it’s no wonder that the number varies so much. For example, both Scotland and Northern Ireland have bank holidays for their patron saints, but Wales and England do not. By having different bank holidays, the countries are able to celebrate their own national identity.

Surprisingly, workers don't actually have to take off a bank holiday if they don't want to. Sometimes workers can still choose to work, although some jobs don't have this option, meaning they have to work regardless. It all depends on the employment contract. In some jobs, one bank holiday will be awarded automatically. For instance, one of the two May bank holidays, where workers will need to work on one, but get the other as a day off. Because of the reduced workforce on these days, and some businesses closing entirely, travelling during this time can be tricky. Some businesses, like supermarkets, will simply have reduced hours, while others, like public transport, may not operate at all.

Photo credits: Veselina Dzhingarova / CC-by (New Year’s Day) ; wbayercom / CC-by (Second January Bank holiday) ; elchupacabra / CC-by-sa (St Patrick’s Day) ; cluttercup / CC-by-sa (Easter Monday) ; ell-r-brown / CC-by-sa (Early May bank holiday) ; Jersey Tourism / CC-by (Liberation Day) ; dudley-council / CC-by (Spring bank holiday) ; jonypixel / CC-by (T.T. Bank Holiday) ; Public domain (Tynwald Day) ; Public domain (Battle of the Boyne (Orangemen’s Day)) ; Arran Bee / CC-by (Scotland Summer bank holiday) ; angelganev / CC-by (Summer bank holiday) ; julien_ortet / CC-by-sa (St Andrew’s Day) ; Crumpled Fire / CC-by-sa (Christmas Day) ; Michael Gwyther-Jones / CC-by (Boxing Day)