United Kingdom

10 brilliant ideas for the August bank holiday

1 August 20146 min read

Seafront view of brighton, sussex on a sunny day

The last bank holiday of the year until Christmas – on August 25 – is nearly upon us. Many people will be eagerly anticipating the long weekend, whether it’s to spend time with family and friends, enjoy a few days away or just catch up on some much-needed sleep.

But if you’re stuck for inspiration on how to spend that precious extra day off work, we’ve come up with 10 great ideas to help.

1. Treat the family to a getaway

Why not make the most of the August bank holiday and treat the family to a last-minute getaway?

The British weather has been kind to us recently, so one tempting idea is a cottage break in our beautiful countryside. Our dedicated cottages page lets you to search a whole variety of cottages across the UK.

Or if you’re looking for family fun where there’ll be plenty to keep the kids entertained, consider a holiday park. Kids’ clubs, swimming pools, games, night-time entertainment and even spa treatments for parents will ensure that all the family enjoy the break.

2. Find fun free local events

Britain is bursting at the seams with fun local events over the bank holiday weekend, many of which don’t cost a penny.

Camden Beach is back in London at the Roundhouse for a second year with deckchairs, ice-creams and, of course, sand to lounge on. There’s also a family area in this city centre “coastal resort”.

Or you could head to Chelsea for the Chelsea in Bloom floral art show, when shops, restaurants and businesses decorate to the theme of “‘Creation in Colour – a journey through fashion, food and lifestyle”. Duke of York Square is the hub of the floral action.

Bournemouth is hosting OnStage at Pier Approach, an open air cinema showing family films for free including The Lego Movie.

The Brecon Beacons Summer Fayre, from August 23 to 25, will have more than 70 stands showcasing Welsh food and arts and crafts, along with lessons in guitar and folk dancing, willow sculpting and pottery turning.

3. Embrace the great outdoors

With some of us chained to our desks all day and kids hooked on computer games and all the trappings of technology, we probably don’t spend as much time as we could appreciating Britain’s beautiful countryside – its wonderful woods, mountains and beaches.

This August bank holiday, consider packing a picnic and setting off for a hike or long bike ride in nature and the fresh air. To entice possibly unwilling little ones, Nature Detectives, a children’s website run by the Woodland Trust, has activities and downloads making tree spotting, bug hunting and boat-making fun.

4. Explore a new city

4. Explore a new city4. Explore a new city

Long weekend? That’s plenty of time for a European city break. If heading for Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam or Rome, you could be off the plane and sightseeing within hours.

There was still plenty of availability to these destinations when we took a look – a three-night, four-star Dublin break, departing from Heathrow on August 22, for example, was £259 per person. A three-night, four-star Amsterdam getaway, flying from Manchester on the same date, was just a little more at £282 per person.

An equivalent break to Disneyland Paris was the cheapest of the lot – £255 each.

5. Discover some of Britain’s best (and wackiest!) festivals

Europe’s largest street festival, the Notting Hill Carnival, takes place on August 24 and 25 in London, with an unforgettable and seemingly endless parade of colourful floats, steel bands and dancing.

Or you could head to the home of the Fab Four for the Liverpool International Music Festival, throughout August, or Manchester Pride festival on August 22 to 25.

Celebrate the sea’s harvest at Newlyn Fish Festival on bank holiday Monday or, for a taste of Britain’s many slightly oddball festivals, go and cheer on the muddy competitors at the World Bog Snorkelling Championships, in the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells on August 24.

6. Jet off for last-minute sun

If you’d rather escape the UK for some more guaranteed sun, there are still holidays left over the bank holiday – but you’ll have to snap them up. A bed and breakfast break on Spain’s Costa Dorada for a family of four, for example, leaving Manchester on August 23, cost £380 per person on TravelSupermarket.

Another search revealed a week’s three-star self-catering holiday in Majorca for two adults and two children, leaving Birmingham on August 23, for £345 per person.

There are still deals out there – just don’t leave it too late!

7. Beach life

Then there’s a good old-fashioned day at the British seaside. You need barely spend a penny, yet the kids will have hours of fun building sandcastles and splashing in the sea. Adults might even have a chance to top up their tans (if the sun decides to shine!).

Brighton, Bournemouth and Blackpool are all classic British seaside destinations where you can stroll along the pier, play arcade games and wander around cute individual shops. Body-boarding is big in Cornwall, and there are Scottish sands such as Nairn, Oldshoremore and the Moray Firth for deserted stretches and fresh air.

Our video What’s so great about the British seaside? explains why – we think – British beaches are some of the best on the planet.

8. Free films

Pack a picnic and set off for a cinematic experience with a difference. Venues have sprung up around the country where families can watch films outdoors for free.

Spinningfields in Manchester is back holding its Family Film Club throughout August, where the family can relax on deckchairs and picnic blankets in front of Finding Nemo on Saturday, August 23. There will also be face painters, hair braiders and balloon modellers on hand.

In London, Nomad Cinema is screening films such as When Harry Met SallyFootloose and The Dark Knight in venues including parks and rooftops throughout the city in August and September.

Elsewhere in the UK, there’s the Derby Summer Nights Film Festival, and Picnic Cinema is combining screenings with overnight camping in various venues.

9. Get to know a UK city

You don’t need to fly abroad for urban buzz. A weekend in the capital with the family will allow plenty of time to explore attractions such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye.

Plenty of world class events are even more reason to hit London. Ending in early September, the Kew Gardens Plantasia Festival is a multi-sensory celebration of all things green and growing, complete with giant croquet lawn and Gin and Tonics garden.

If you want to take the family to a West End show but are worried about the price, kids can go free on some dates in August. Book through the website of Kids Week 2017, back for a second year.

But it’s not only London that beckons for a city break. There’s historical Edinburgh and mystical York; Liverpool is packed with character and Manchester has great shopping and nightlife. TravelSupermarket’s hotel channel has a huge choice of accommodation.

If you’re travelling to a city by train, book tickets now – by far the cheapest fares can be found online in advance. Even booking the night before can cost less than buying a fare on the day of departure – so get organised!

10. Enjoy a day out for less

If you are planning a bank holiday day out, don’t leave the house without checking whether there are relevant vouchers, discounts or deals available.

Take a look on popular voucher websites, the attraction's own website and even keep an eye on items such as cereal packets and bus tickets.

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