Explore UK’s rich history and contemporary culture in its world-famous events, vivid celebrations and public holidays that take place throughout the year. Often called bank holidays, these public holidays mark religious, historical and special events.
While some holidays date back hundreds of years, others are a bit more recent. Some are fun and festive, encouraging the locals to dress up and join in the festivities, while others are more solemn.
In London, most of the shops and businesses stay open throughout the public holidays. Yet, be sure to check opening times before visiting on these days as some will open for reduced hours and others might not open at all. Below is a roundup of eight public holidays 2019 London.
Holidays in London
New Year’s Day in London
London follows Georgian calendar and celebrates New Year on January 1st. From the ever-sizzling parties to the gigantic firecrackers show on New Year’s Eve, the city celebrates New Year with much pomp and show.
Another famous tradition related with London New Year celebrations is the annual New Year parade it organizes. Thousands of well-known artists from their respective fields and from countries come to London to be a part of this famous parade. It is the most fascinating New Year Day location in the entire Europe,
London Good Friday
Good Friday, the Friday before Easter commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As a day of mourning, Christians meditate on Jesus’s suffering and death on the cross. In London Christians attend the annual religious service called the Crucifixion on Victoria Street followed by procession where a wooden cross is carried at the front. The procession is called Way of the Cross as it depicts the end of Christ’s Passion, the final period of Jesus Christ’s life, starting with his entry to the city of Jerusalem and ending with his ghastly execution. While Christians attend church services and eat hot cross buns, many observe fasting and abstinence.
Another bank holiday in London is Easter Monday. Also called Pascha, it celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Christian holiday is customarily celebrated with a family meal, generally featuring roast lamb to mark the commencement of spring. An additional delicious tradition is chocolate eggs – supermarkets present a huge array varying from tiny ones to eggs the size of your head! The amazing tradition of eggs marking Easter represents rebirth and resurrection – new life being born from the egg.
Early May Bank Holiday in London
Much known as the May Day in London, it is a day to campaign for and celebrate workers’ rights. The 1st Monday of May is a bank holiday and a lot of people have a day off work. Many organizations, businesses and schools are closed.
London Spring Bank Holiday
The spring bank holiday, also known as the late May bank holiday, is a time for people in London to have a day off work or school. It falls on the last Monday of May and is also known as Whitsun or Whit Monday. It commemorates the day the Holy Ghost descending on Jesus Christ’s disciples and thereby marks the end of the Easter season. Christians call it the Pentecost Day and attend church services while others catch up with friends, enjoy early summer weather and maypole dancing.
Summer Bank Holiday
Also called the August Bank Holiday, this holiday was introduced by the Bank Holidays Act of 1871 to bestow bank clerks and shop people a day of relaxation not associated to holy days for instance Christmas. In London, it is pre-eminently an occasion for stepping out of the house and vacationing. Generally, people attend the Notting Hill Carnival, the second-biggest street carnival in the world that celebrates Caribbean culture.
London Christmas Day
Christmas in London is all about singing Jingle bells, decorating Christmas trees and feasting on delicious Turkeys. It is celebrated as the day when Jesus Christ was born. Being a public holiday, people enjoy carol concerts, frosty park walks, shopping at festive markets, ice-skating with friends, fireside pub lunches, impressive light displays and spectacular West End shows.
It is an extra day off after the Christmas festivities falling on 26th December. The origin of Boxing Day dates back to the Victorian era in the 1830s when churches used to collect donations in boxes for the poor after Christmas on St Stephen’s Day. Servants were gifted a box of gifts and were given a day off to celebrate with family after Christmas Day. At present, people indulge in football, Boxing Day shopping in Westfield shopping centres and bizarre traditions like swimming the icy cold English Channel, fun runs, and charity events.