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Best things to do for May bank holiday in the UK 2024

Simon Calder’s Travel

With a bonus day off from work and school coming up on Monday 6 May for the May Day bank holiday, you might be thinking about how to make the most of it. While jetting off on a city break or spending a few days somewhere warm with a beach may sound ideal, if you’re staying home in the UK there are still plenty of ways to make the long weekend feel like a mini holiday.

After a long winter, the weather in May should be a little sunny, making it the perfect time to explore some beautiful UK towns and villages that you might not have visited before. Local communities often organise fairs and parades for the bank holiday weekend with free entertainment, so you can socialise and dance without having to spend too much.

It’s also the time of year that nature comes out of hiding, making the weekend a good time to visit some of the UK’s natural beauty spots. From marine life to birds, May is ideal for wildlife watching.

Here are 10 fun ways to make the most of your bank holiday time off in the UK.

Brixham pirate festival, Devon

Ahoy me hearties! Thousands of pirates converge in Brixham in early May (

The Brixham Pirate Festival began in 2002 when locals decided to create an event to liven up one of the quietest bank holidays of the year.

Now attracting thousands of visitors each year, the action takes place around Brixham quay from 4 – 6 May. Wander around the harbour and discover all sorts pirate antics taking place, including live sea shanty music, street performers, balloon modelling, historical re-enactments, fancy dress competitions and themed food and drink offerings. Feel free to dress up as a pirate (an awful lot of people do) and travel to Brixham by boat from Torquay and Paignton for the most authentic arrival.

Tickets: Free – just turn up,

Bempton Cliffs puffin-watching, East Yorkshire

See puffins up close at the Bempton Cliffs nature trail (Unsplash / Jonny Gios)

The huge white chalk cliffs at Bempton are impressive at any time of year, but visit in May and you’ll find them transformed into England’s largest seabird city. Here puffins, gannets, kittiwakes and guillemots live life on the edge, and watching them go about their business is like watching a live David Attenbrough documentary.

Park at the Bempton cliffs visitor centre (where there are toilets) and choose from one…

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