Public holidays in the UK are called bank holidays.
The UK is made up of four countries; England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Public holidays in the UK vary by country.
England and Wales have eight bank holidays. Scotland has nine. Northern Ireland has ten.
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Banks, post offices, government offices, and many businesses are closed on bank holidays. Public transport may be reduced and the Royal Mail doesn’t collect or deliver.
Most restaurants and pubs are open on bank holidays. Tourist attractions typically record high visitor numbers. Retailers are also busy, with many holding bank holiday sales.
When a bank holiday falls on a weekend, it is observed on a ‘substitute day’. The substitute day is usually the following Monday.
Residents of England and Wales enjoy fewer public holidays than their counterparts in Europe. Workers throughout Europe enjoy an average of 11 public holidays each year. In Finland there are 15 public holidays.
The UK is one of a handful of countries in the world that doesn’t celebrate a national day.
England and Wales do not honour their patron saint. There are no public holidays on St George’s Day or St David’s Day. Workers in Scotland get a day off on St Andrew’s Day. St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Northern Ireland.
There are one-off public holidays in the UK to mark special events of national importance. Recent examples include 29 July 1981 (Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer), 31 December 1999 (New Millennium), and 29 June 2012 (Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton).
There have been calls to embrace the UK’s increasing Muslim and Hindu populations by recognising Eid and Diwali as bank holidays. The requests have been rejected by the UK Government.