What’s the British Way of Holidays

by CiCi
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The British are known for their distinctive way of life, and this extends to how they spend their holidays. Holidays in the UK are characterized by a blend of tradition, adventure, and a deep appreciation for both local and international destinations. From the bustling streets of London to the serene landscapes of the Lake District, the British holiday culture is diverse and reflects the rich history and modern vibrancy of the country. This article delves into the various ways British people spend their holidays, exploring traditional celebrations, popular destinations, and emerging trends in holidaymaking.

Traditional Holiday Celebrations


Christmas is arguably the most significant holiday in the UK, marked by a blend of religious, cultural, and family traditions. The festive season starts in late November or early December, with the advent of Christmas markets across the country. Cities like London, Manchester, and Edinburgh host some of the most famous markets, where people indulge in festive food, mulled wine, and Christmas shopping.


Families typically decorate their homes with Christmas trees, lights, and ornaments. The celebration peaks on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, it is common for families to attend a midnight church service. Christmas Day is usually spent with family, starting with a festive breakfast followed by the exchange of gifts. The highlight of the day is the Christmas dinner, which traditionally includes roast turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, and various side dishes, followed by Christmas pudding.



Easter, marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is another important holiday, celebrated with both religious observances and secular traditions. The holiday period includes Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday. Many people attend church services, and it’s also a time for family gatherings.

Easter egg hunts are a popular activity, especially for children. Chocolate eggs are hidden in gardens and homes, and children enjoy searching for them. Additionally, hot cross buns, a spiced sweet bun marked with a cross on the top, are traditionally eaten on Good Friday.

Bank Holidays

The UK has several bank holidays throughout the year, providing long weekends that the British often use for short trips and leisure activities. Notable bank holidays include the May Day Bank Holiday, Spring Bank Holiday, and the August Bank Holiday. These holidays are perfect opportunities for British people to take a break from work and spend time with family and friends, either at home or traveling.

Popular Domestic Holiday Destinations

The Lake District

The Lake District, located in Cumbria, is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK. Known for its stunning landscapes, lakes, and mountains, it offers a perfect retreat for nature lovers. Activities such as hiking, boating, and visiting quaint villages attract visitors year-round. Towns like Windermere and Keswick are particularly popular, offering a range of accommodations from luxury hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts.


Cornwall, in the southwest of England, is famous for its beautiful coastline, sandy beaches, and picturesque fishing villages. Destinations like St Ives, Newquay, and Padstow are popular for their stunning scenery and outdoor activities. Surfing, coastal walks, and enjoying fresh seafood are key highlights. Cornwall also boasts a rich history, with sites like Tintagel Castle linked to the legend of King Arthur.

The Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands offer some of the most dramatic and unspoiled landscapes in the UK. With towering mountains, deep lochs, and ancient castles, the Highlands are ideal for those seeking adventure and tranquility. Popular activities include hiking, wildlife spotting, and exploring historical sites. Inverness, Fort William, and the Isle of Skye are key destinations, each offering unique experiences and breathtaking views.


London, the capital city, is a hub of cultural and historical attractions. From the iconic Big Ben and Buckingham Palace to the world-class museums and theaters, London has something for everyone. Many British families and tourists alike spend their holidays exploring the city’s diverse neighborhoods, shopping districts, and famous landmarks. The city’s extensive public transport system makes it easy to navigate and discover its many hidden gems.

International Holiday Trends

European Escapes

Due to its proximity, Europe is a favored destination for British holidaymakers. Short flights and the availability of budget airlines make European cities like Paris, Rome, and Barcelona accessible and popular choices for weekend breaks or longer vacations. The rich history, culture, and cuisine of these cities offer a diverse holiday experience.

Beach Holidays

For those seeking sun and relaxation, beach holidays are a top choice. Spain’s Costa del Sol, the Greek islands, and Portugal’s Algarve region are among the most popular destinations. These locations offer beautiful beaches, warm weather, and a range of accommodations from luxury resorts to budget-friendly options. All-inclusive packages are particularly popular, providing convenience and value for money.

Adventure and Exotic Destinations

Increasingly, British holidaymakers are seeking more adventurous and exotic destinations. Southeast Asia, with countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Bali, attracts those looking for a mix of culture, adventure, and stunning landscapes. Safari trips to Africa, trekking in the Himalayas, and exploring the wilderness of South America are also gaining popularity among those seeking unique and memorable experiences.

Holidaying at Home: Staycations

In recent years, the concept of staycations—holidaying within one’s own country—has gained popularity in the UK. Economic factors, convenience, and a growing appreciation for local attractions contribute to this trend. Staycations allow British people to explore the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty of their own country without the stress and cost associated with international travel.


Glamping, a blend of glamour and camping, has become a popular staycation option. It offers the experience of being close to nature without sacrificing comfort. Glamping sites are found across the UK, from the countryside of Yorkshire to the coastal areas of Devon and Cornwall. These sites typically provide well-equipped tents, yurts, or cabins with amenities such as comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and cooking facilities.

Heritage Railways

Exploring the UK’s heritage railways is another unique staycation activity. These historic train routes offer scenic journeys through some of the most beautiful parts of the country. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, the Bluebell Railway in Sussex, and the West Somerset Railway are just a few examples. These trips often combine a sense of nostalgia with stunning views and a relaxing pace.

Coastal and Countryside Retreats

Many British people opt for coastal or countryside retreats during their staycations. Seaside towns like Whitby, Brighton, and Bournemouth offer a mix of beach activities, shopping, and dining. Countryside retreats in areas like the Cotswolds, the Peak District, and the New Forest provide opportunities for hiking, cycling, and enjoying the tranquility of rural England.

Holiday Traditions and Activities

Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, is celebrated on November 5th. It commemorates the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The night is marked by bonfires, fireworks displays, and the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes. Communities across the UK come together for these events, enjoying the spectacle and the sense of history behind the tradition.

Summer Festivals

Summer is festival season in the UK, with a wide range of events catering to different interests. Music festivals like Glastonbury, Reading, and Leeds attract thousands of attendees with performances from top artists. There are also literary festivals, such as the Hay Festival in Wales, and food festivals, like the Taste of London, where visitors can sample dishes from renowned chefs and restaurants.

Pub Culture

The pub is a cornerstone of British social life, and visiting pubs is a common holiday activity. Pubs serve as gathering places for friends and family, offering a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy food and drink. Traditional pub games like darts and pool, as well as pub quizzes, add to the experience. Many pubs are located in scenic areas, making them ideal stops during countryside walks or coastal explorations.

Sporting Events

Sports play a significant role in British culture, and many holidays are planned around major sporting events. The Wimbledon tennis tournament, the British Grand Prix, and Premier League football matches attract both local and international visitors. Attending these events or watching them in a pub or at home with friends and family is a popular way to spend holidays.

Emerging Trends in British Holidays

Sustainable Travel

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important consideration for British holidaymakers. Eco-friendly accommodations, such as eco-lodges and green hotels, are gaining popularity. There is also a growing interest in reducing carbon footprints by choosing travel options that have less environmental impact, such as train travel over flying. Additionally, many people are supporting local businesses and opting for activities that promote environmental conservation.

Wellness Holidays

Wellness holidays focused on relaxation and health are another emerging trend. Spa retreats, yoga breaks, and wellness resorts offer an escape from the stresses of everyday life. These holidays often include activities like meditation, fitness classes, and healthy eating, providing a holistic approach to well-being. Locations like Bath, known for its natural hot springs, and the wellness retreats in the Scottish Highlands are particularly popular.

Cultural and Educational Tours

There is a growing interest in holidays that offer cultural and educational experiences. Tours that focus on history, art, and local culture provide a deeper understanding of the destination. Examples include literary tours in Edinburgh, historical tours of castles and landmarks, and culinary tours that explore regional food and drink specialties. These holidays appeal to those who want to enrich their knowledge while enjoying their time off.

See also: How Does Unlimited Holiday Work Uk


Holidays in the UK reflect the country’s rich tapestry of traditions, natural beauty, and cultural diversity. Whether it’s celebrating Christmas with family, exploring the rugged landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, or relaxing on a sunny beach in Cornwall, British people have a wide range of holiday options to choose from. Emerging trends like sustainable travel and wellness holidays show a shift towards more mindful and enriching holiday experiences. As the world continues to change, the British approach to holidays evolves, blending tradition with innovation to create memorable and meaningful escapes.


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