How to spend the May bank holiday Monday in the UK

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.

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,

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 of two trails. The Cliff Top Trail is two miles long and takes around 90 minutes to complete. You’ll pass through cliff top habitats and have six viewpoints overlooking the North Sea and 400ft cliffs. The nature trail is half a mile long and takes you through the scrub and grassland habitats of the reserve, and includes great opportunities to spot the smaller birds. You can also book VIP guided tours for some expert commentary along the way.

Tickets: Trails free, guided tours are £55 for two adults,

If you’ve got a digger fan in the family – young or old – the Digger Dance is well worth a watch. From 4 – 6 May, see skilled operators choreograph their diggers to dance in perfect harmony with lively music, creating a spectacle that will captivate audiences of all ages.

After the show, experience all the fun of the farm with animal meet and greet with guinea pigs, meerkats, snakes and lizartds and feeding goats and sheep. Your ticket will also include unlimited fairground rides and use of the indoor and outdoor play areas.

Book before 24 April for ‘early bird’ tickets, otherwise prices will increase by £6 closer to the event.

Tickets: From £18.95,

A great way to introduce children to marine life, crabbing is a fun (and affordable) activity for the whole family. Norfolk is ideal for crabbing because of its estuarial and creek waters that the little blighters like inhabiting.

All you need is a bucket filled with sea water, a line and some ham or bacon, or you can rent an eco-friendly crab-catching kit for just £1 from The Gilly Hut on the Wells beach front (that includes a net and buckets). Feeling peckish? Visit the shellfish stall on the quay for freshly dressed crabs and little pots of cockles, whelks, prawns, shrimps and rollmops.

Tickets: Free,

Set in the beautiful grounds of Beaulieu, the BBC Gardener’s World spring fair is the place to visit for garden inspiration and advice. There are show gardens to walk around as well as workshops and talks during the event that runs from 3 – 5 May.

The Get Growing stage promises expert-led talks from recognisable faces, including influencer Jason Williams (aka Cloud Gardener UK), flower farmer Kim O’Brien, mushroom growers Caley Brothers, and chefs from The Pig and Lime Wood hotel. Meanwile a Plant Expert Workshop Marquee will host a a range of practical activities designed to make you a better gardener.

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