The best bank holiday events this May

We’ve searched the internet so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Ah, May. Spring has arrived, and we get not one but two long weekends courtesy of the May bank holidays.

But while the time off work and school is exciting, finding fun things to do can be tricky. So we’ve rounded up the top events across the UK to keep you and your family busy.

And if the typical British weather deters you from stepping out of the house, check out our article on Six ways to keep the kids entertained on a rainy day.


Step back in time

History buffs will love the Civil War Festival in Newark, Nottinghamshire. Taking place Sunday April 30 and Monday May 1, the 1644 Queen’s Sconce fort will serve as the backdrop of dramatic re-enactments and demonstrations that will bring the 17th century back to life.

If you like your history a bit more, well, modern than that, you can enjoy a 1940s knees-up at Nottingham Castle, or tearfully wave your hanky at a loved one as you chug along on the vintage steam East Lancashire Railway, before swiftly moving on by jiving to the live bands on May 27-29.

If you’re in Wales, St Fagans National History Museum in Cardiff is set to welcome spring on the first bank holiday weekend the traditional way, celebrating the awakening of the ‘Green Man’ from his winter slumber with folk dancing and music and local crafts.

And for the second bank holiday weekend the museum’s historical buildings will come to life with actors in costume, and visitors are encouraged to dust off their vintage-wears themselves to join the fun.

Meanwhile, over in Newport, the National Roman Legion Museum is promising to turn your children into mini legends, teaching them how to fight like a gladiator from May 29-June 2.

Themed family fun

Back at the East Lancashire Railway, on April 29-May 1 the train teams are transforming the line’s stations to welcome Thomas the Tank Engine and friends. Meet the Fat Controller, Percy and of course Thomas himself while chugging up and down the rails, enjoying family entertainment along the way.


Become a member of Supersavvyme and get exclusive offers!

Become a member

Down in Devon, the infamous pirates are coming ashore once more, bringing with them sea shanties, gun and sword fights and plenty of skulduggery at The Brixham Pirate Festival on the first bank holiday weekend.

A bit further up, and on the second bank holiday, yet more pirates are causing trouble at the historic Gloucester Docks in The Cotswolds, where you can also admire the stunning boats at the Tall Ships Festival.

Get back to nature

Not much beats a bracing countryside walk on a bank holiday Monday, and from Saturday May 27-Monday May 29, the WalkFest will be held in the North York Moors National Park. Soak up the scenery with walks for all ages and abilities, with treasure hunts for kids and refreshments coming in the form of afternoon tea or beer. Sounds perfect!

If the weather’s not walk-friendly, you could head to the butterfly house in the Natural History Museum in London instead, where you can spend the day with a kaleidoscope of beautiful butterflies from Central and South America, Africa and Asia.

Food glorious food

Proclaimed the ‘Gastronomic Glastonbury’, watch cooking demonstrations, tuck in to tasty samples and your kids can even learn how to grow veg at the Brighton Foodies Festival in East Sussex, taking place April 29-May 1.

Or t’up north there’s the Malton Food Lovers’ Festival, a celebration of Yorkshire’s finest produce and chefs.

For culture vultures

Soak up the creative shows and art exhibitions at the Brighton Festival in East Sussex. There are events and shows suitable for all the family, kicking off with the Children’s Parade on May 6.

Another option is the Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival, in Wiltshire, which brings music from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, performances from circus acrobats and a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald from May 26.

Do you have a local bank holiday event you would like to shout about to your fellow readers? Sign up or log in to share the information in the comments section below.

Complete your personal information

Please fill in the information marked with an asterisk to proceed; if you want to get tailored offers and content, don't forget to fill in the optional fields.