May Bank Holiday ideas on a budget

Posted on: 25 April 2013 by Gareth Hargreaves

May treats us to two Bank Holidays and the first is little more than a week away. We’ve put together a list of ways to enjoy the two long weekend’s on a budget for all the family.

Cheap days out for May Bank HolidayIn the UK, May is blessed with two bank holiday weekends, and it seems a shame to spend those rare three day bank holiday weekends at home when there are so many fantastic places to escape to.

The May Day bank holiday (Early May Bank Holiday) on the first Monday and the Spring Bank Holiday on the last represent the two Bank Holiday’s in May, with the actual bank holiday Monday’s falling on the 6th and 27th May in 2013.

The actual origins of the May Bank Holidays, especially May Day, are somewhat unclear, originating in pre-Christian Europe, yet adopted to mean many things to many people. The May Bank holiday celebrations are now usually seen as the start of summer, providing a chance to rid you of the winter blues on the first Monday of the month.

National Trust WalksFree walking guides

Download free walking guides to beaches, forests, moorland and villages looked after by the National Trust at

The site also lists National Trust properties and gardens that offer discounted entry or a tearoom voucher to car-free visitors, to promote greener travel.

Mercedes Benz World

Visit Mercedes-Benz World, Surrey, where a week of free events includes high-precision driving from the Silver Arrows Display Team.

See to find out more.

Iron Bridge, ShropshireIron Bridge, Shropshire

A series of attractions celebrating the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Visit Blists Hill Victorian town and the historic area around Coalbrookdale, including Tar Tunnel, coalport China Museum and The Iron Bridge and Toll House.

For more information about May events see

Brighton festival

Free and paid-for music, dance and theatre make up the Brighton Festival and Fringe Festival in May. Brighton Festival has more than 370 performances, 154 events and 30 venues. The festivals run side by side from 4-26 May (the Fringe finishes 2 June).

Tickets and more information from and

Isle of Wight walking festival

The Isle of Wight Walking Festival is the biggest festival of its kind in the UK and takes place from 4-19 May. There are hundreds of walks of varying pace, distance and difficulty.

Visit the site to find your ideal walk and check booking requirements. Many walks are free or request a charity donation.

National Cycle Network

Fancy getting out in the open? The National Cycle Network is made up of more than 12,000 miles of routes.

Find a free map at, together with ideas for easy or long-distance rides.

Abbotsbury sub tropical gardensAbbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens

Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens in Abbotsbury, near Weymouth, Dorset are filled with rare plants from around the world. In spring, camellias and magnolias are at their peak.

8) A Date With Nature

Spring is the start of the RSPB’s ‘A date with nature’ events. There’s plenty of wildlife spotting on offer and not always where you expect. Cardiff City Hall clock tower is the unusual location where a pair of peregrines are nesting.

You can use the RSPB’s telescopes and binoculars, and its staff are on hand to answer questions. Almost all events are free and you don’t have to book.
See RSPB Date with Nature for details.

Lindisfarne PrioryEnglish Heritage

Abbeys, castles, ruins and stately homes are among more than 400 English Heritage sites open this half term and plenty are free. The English Heritage website also has details of half term events and venues that offer reduced price family tickets.

See English Heritage for details.

10) Special Offers

You can find lots of special offers such as two-for-one admission and kids-go-free offers at Visit England Great Offers.

The site has plenty of ideas for days out grouped into themes, such as family fun, and food and drink.

Enjoy a Dahl day

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in South Bucks has free storytelling and craft activities for children and families at weekends and every day during school holidays in Bucks (normal charges for admission apply).

The museum  and story centre has workshops including illustrator workshops, George's Marvellous Experiments and other activities aimed at 6 to 12-year-olds and their families. It gives visitors the chance to find out about Roald Dahl’s life and stories.

See Roald Dahl

Ticket to ride

Between Liverpool and Southport, and a 30-minute train ride from the city centre, is a stretch of unspoilt shore known as Sefton’s Natural Coast. You have to pay for the train, but the beach is free.

Go to for maps and to download a walking and cycling guide.

Henry VIIIA living Tudor world!

Take a step back in time and Join Henry VIII, his family and courtiers at Hampton Court Palace. There will be a range of exhibitions and events to bring history to life, including Tudor cookery displays and costumes for visitors to learn how to dress for the royal court..

Explore the parts of Hampton Court that not even Henry’s guests will get to see! Peer into Henry’s private apartments and discover traces of his ex-wives.

See the order of service for a Day at Court for more details.

The sky at night

Discover the wonders of space, stars and Living history planets with a trip to The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. The observatory’s new planetarium has live tours throughout the school holidays giving children and adults the opportunity to explore the night sky through the wonders of technology.

Entrance to the Royal Observatory and the famous Greenwich Meridian Line is free, while discounted family tickets for the Planetarium’s live shows cost £17.50.

Visit Royal Museums Greenwich to find out more information.

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