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If you find yourself gearing up for a new year working and living in the UK, you are bound to be keen to put any free time you have to good use. The United Kingdom is vastly different from South Africa when it comes to public holidays (and of course, the weather!).

You might find that you get a raised eyebrow if you ask the locals about the number of “public holidays” in the UK, as they typically refer to them as “Bank Holidays”. Banks are officially closed for business on all the official UK public holidays 2020. While you are bound to be eager to settle into a productive year ahead, let’s be honest…the public holidays are the most looked forward to as you get the opportunity to spend your time off exploring the country you now find yourself in.

UK Public Holidays 2020: Here is what to Expect

As you undoubtedly already know, the United Kingdom consists of 4 nations, each with their own public holidays in place. These include: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This means that the number of public holidays in the UK that you are set to enjoy really comes down to where you are living and working. For instance, England enjoys 8 public holidays while Scotland enjoys 9, and Northern Ireland enjoys 10. A full list of the UK public holidays 2020 are:

  • 1 January 2020 (Wednesday): Happy New Year! The turn of the year.
  • 2 January 2020 (Thursday): New Year’s Holiday (Scotland only).
  • 17 March 2020 (Tuesday): St Patrick’s Day (Northern Ireland only).
  • 10 April 2020 (Friday): Good Friday marks the start of the Easter period.
  • 13 April 2020 (Monday): Easter Monday (excluding Scotland).
  • 8 May 2020 (Friday): Early May Bank Holiday.
  • 25 May 2020 (Monday): Spring Bank Holiday (this replaces the Whit Monday Holiday – day after Pentecost on the Christian Calendar).
  • 13 July 2020 (Monday): Battle of Boyne (Northern Ireland only).
  • 3 August 2020 (Monday): Summer Bank Holiday (Scotland only).
  • 31 August 2020 (Monday): Summer Bank Holiday (excluding Scotland).
  • 30 November 2020 (Monday): St Andrew’s Day (Scotland only).
  • 25 December 2020 (Friday): Merry Christmas! It’s Christmas Day.
  • 28 December 2020 (Monday): Boxing Day. This public holiday falls on a Saturday this year so it’s officially recognized on Monday the 28th.

As the 75th anniversary of VE Day is this year, you will notice that the early May Bank Holiday, which should be on the first Monday of the month (4th of May), has been moved back a few days to the 8th of May. Boxing Day has also been moved back a few days, because it officially lands on a Saturday this year. In such a case, the public holiday is recognized and enjoyed on the next business day.

What to do on Public Holidays in the UK

If you put a bit of forethought and pre-planning into it, you can always wangle your schedule so that you get an extra day off work, either before or after the actual Bank Holiday. This will give you enough time to do a bit of exploring, which you are bound to want to do. A popular thing for expats to do is to use the public holidays to book short stays in Europe. Staycations are also quite popular, where expats spend a bit of time exploring the areas in their immediate surroundings. If you have just settled in the UK, this might suit you perfectly.

Here are some ideas:

Good Weather Bank Holidays:

The weather is usually promising (not nearly as warm as South Africa, but certainly “good” in terms of UK weather) during the May Bank Holidays. If you have kids to take care of; you might want to do an outdoor activity that’s not too ambitious. A popular activity that locals get involved in is fruit picking at nearby farms. There are plenty of parks to go for a picnic and the various National Trust properties too. These are often open on public holidays and offer the opportunity for gallivanting in the grounds. Of course, it all depends on where you are situated, so always check if the park, farm, or National Trust property is open and available before heading out there.

Rainy Day Bank Holidays:

If you want your kids to integrate into UK living quickly, you can use a rainy Bank Holiday to expose them to the social and working environment in the country. KidZania is a great place to go. It’s a city run by kids in London, designed for children aged 4 to 14 years. While inside KidZania, your kids will have the opportunity to select from a variety of real-life activities designed to test their skills in a variety of job options. The experience is 4 hours and there’s a coffee station for parents. For those who just want to focus on light-hearted fun, there are jump arenas, ice skating rinks, and Clip ‘n Climbs in most areas across the UK.

Off to Europe for a mini escape:

If you have an extra day or 2, you can head to Europe for a mini break. Most of these destinations can be reached cheaply by train. Consider destinations like Paris, Venice, Verona, Dublin, Berlin, Colditz, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rome, Prague, Salzburg, Munich, Krakow, Auschwitz, and Scotland’s Highlands.

Check out the highlights:

All of the 4 nations of the UK are jam-packed with tourist attractions. Spend some time on Google formulating a “bucket list” of attractions and go out and see them. Check them off your list systematically. Bank holidays provide the perfect opportunity for this!

A personal day to sort out personal matters “at home”:

Perhaps you just want to spend your time off, bonding with your couch, catching up on your favourite Netflix series, and possibly even sorting out your tax emigration or financial emigration concerns. And that’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do too.

UK Public Holidays 2020 – Make the Most of Them

While the UK doesn’t have quite as many public holidays as South Africa, you will find that the general population really does make the most of them. People can be found planning ahead for mini holidays, booking their spot/tickets at local attractions, and getting the kids excited for their upcoming time off. Make the most of it; get involved.

FinGlobal: Financial Emigration specialists

With 2020 already off to a good start, the team at FinGlobal is gearing up for 12 months of good things! Our team is standing by to assist South African expats with premier financial emigration and tax emigration guidance and advice. With almost 10 years of experience in our wake, we believe that we are the best choice when it comes to sourcing reliable, effective, and affordable financial and tax emigration assistance. If you need any assistance with your financial needs, contact us today. You can give us a call, or you can send us an email, so that one of our friendly and knowledgeable consultants can reach out to you. Make 2020 the year of seamless emigration transition, with the help of FinGlobal.