15 fun things to do this bank holiday weekend

Updated May 21, 2021
(Published August 20, 2020)

Gearing up for the bank holiday weekend? Us too! But this year, you’ll need some planning; many attractions have reduced their visitor capacity and pre-booked tickets – even for free museums – are essential.

So, where to go to make the most of the extra day off? These days out around the UK should provide inspiration for family fun, romance or spending time with your mates.

1. Walk with dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, London

Come face to face with a terrifying T. rex, shudder with fear in the earthquake room and meet the “super crocodile” at London’s Natural History MuseumWith its interactive exhibitions and activities, the museum is not only loads of fun but also an educational day out. And the best bit? Admission is free! Pre-book your tickets here.

2. Get on your bike at Coed y Brenin, Wales

For an active bank holiday in the great outdoors, the largest dedicated mountain bike trail in the UK is hard to beat. At Coed y Brenin, in North Wales, you can bring your own bike or hire one before hitting one of the fantastic tracks designed for a range of abilities. Free perk? Views of some of the most spectacular bits of Britain.

3. Learn about the beautiful game in Manchester

If there is a budding David Beckham in the family, then the National Football Museum in Manchester is one museum they won’t find boring. The collection of footballing memorabilia and artefacts will help to stoke passion for the game.

This one’s only open from Thursday to Sunday , so keep that in mind when planning your bank holiday weekend. Tickets start at £5.50 for kids between 5 and 15 (under 5s go free) or £26.50 for a family of 4.

4. Get lost in Wilderness Wood, East Sussex

Picture of woodland in East Sussex

With numerous walking trails, picnic spots and adventure playgrounds, this 62-acre woodland focuses on promoting sustainable living. A number of events are held here throughout the year, and member of the wood can even stay the night in a variety of camping spots and for-hire huts. A family ticket to Wilderness Wood (for two adults and two children) costs £10.

5. Visit ‘Another Place’ in Merseyside

A day at the beach costs nothing, and Crosby Beach in Sefton, Merseyside has much more than sand and sea. The scores of cast iron figures positioned out to sea in Anthony Gormley’s Another Place artwork  make for a powerful and atmospheric visit.

6. Take a punt on romance in Cambridge

With its beautiful historic buildings, green space for wandering and the charming River Cam, Cambridge is a setting ripe for romance. A punt tour along the river past the characteristic architecture of the famous university’s colleges makes a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.

Expect to pay around £20 per person for a socially distanced shared tour or around £90 for a private tour. Prefer something even quieter? Scudamore’s offers punt hire in Grantchester, about 4km (2.5 miles) south of Cambridge.

7. Walk the Cornish coast

Cornwall is famous for its surfing but the coast is also super-romantic to walk along with someone special. Peer into rock pools and explore smugglers’ coves, before rounding the day off in a cosy country pub. St Ives, Polperro, Tintagel and Polzeath are particularly beautiful towns and villages to use as a base.

8. Enjoy a film under the stars at a drive-in cinema

Pull up at London's Alexandra Palace or Surrey's Sandown  Park Racecourse for a film night under the starsStay socially distanced by ordering pizza, popcorn and sweets straight to your vehicle, and enjoy family favourites including Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, and 90s classics such as 10 Things I Hate About You and Forrest Gump, from the comfort of your car. Prices start at £20 per vehicle.

9. Ramble through the New Forest

Pack a picnic and take a romantic walk in the beautiful and ancient New Forest. With plenty of trails through the woodlands, the area also teems with wildlife – keep your eyes peeled for deer and New Forest ponies.

10. Spot dolphins in Scotland

Dolphin-spotting might be something you associate with warmer climes but, with a bit of persistence, you can spot bottlenose dolphins, along with porpoises and Minke whales, off the Moray Firth inlet in Scotland.

Chanonry Point is as a particularly good spot. Watching a dolphin pod leaping from the water amid the dramatic Scottish scenery makes for a pretty romantic memory.

11. Enjoy a picnic in Richmond Park, London

Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park

Get back to nature on a ramble and picnic in the sprawling Richmond Park in West London. Explore Isabella Plantation, a 40-acre green sanctuary where native and exotic flora grow side by side, meet the park’s resident Red and Fallow deer then set up by the Pen Ponds and while the afternoon away.

12. Go wild camping in Scotland

How to combine adventure with a camping break on the cheap? Take to the wilderness and pitch your tent away from a camp site – in Scotland. Wild camping is illegal in England and Wales, but north of the border it’s a-okay so brush off your boots and head for the highlands!

13. Take a free city walking tour

Many British cities now offer free walking tours by top quality guides. The three-hour tour of Manchester, for example, takes in the Sackville Gardens and the city’s street art and architecture. Contact the relevant city’s tourist office details of more free tours.

14. Make a difference with a day of volunteering

Why not get a group of mates together and do something to assist vulnerable people during the virus or conserve Britain’s green spaces – while having loads fun in the process? You can find a ton of one-day volunteering opportunities all across the UK as well as longer-term positions on the government website.

15. Try to guess the riddle of Stonehenge

From a sacrificial site to an early form of calendar, various theories have been advanced about one of Britain’s most ancient sites. Quite what the prehistoric stone circle was originally for, though, remains a mystery. Pre-book your tickets and have a poke around to decide which explanation you think fits Stonehenge best.

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