May Day Bank Holiday Events

15 April 2024

Celebrate the May Day Bank Holiday

The first Monday in May has long been celebrated as a joyful way to mark seasonal changes, with this mid-spring holiday typically honoured with plenty of singing, dancing, bright yellow flowers - and perhaps the most significant symbol at events across the UK - the maypole.

As is the case with springtime itself, new beginnings are at the forefront of May Day celebrations, with baskets of fresh flowers and tasty treats often passed around town and village festivals, with hope for improving weather and the anticipation of a warm summer a distinct appeal.

With our handily placed hotel destinations close to all the action during the week and over the weekend building to Monday, 6th May, join us for an extended stay as you start the month with a memorable break.


Houstoun House, Livingston

The Celtic interpretation of May Day is known as Beltane (or ‘bright fire’), which recognises the rituals performed centuries ago to drive cattle out to summer pasture. This is now marked with bonfire celebrations that were once deemed to have protective powers, alongside decoration of homes with May flowers and enjoying fantastic feasts.

Visit Edinburgh for the momentous Beltane Fire Festival (taking place in the build-up to the bank holiday on Tuesday, 30th April), which reimagines the Iron Age Celtic ritual on Calton Hill. The beating of drums and processions heralds the march towards the summer season, and the event is known as the largest celebration of its kind in the UK.

Calton Hill at dusk, Edinburgh

Forest Hills Hotel & Resort, Aberfoyle

Another option for Beltane and May Day events outside of the capital is north of Glasgow, with our scenic hotel and resort in the Trossachs representing a rejuvenating escape either side of the festivities at the Tir na Nog Holistic Centre.

The Beltane Firewalk will be held on the evening of Saturday, May 4th this year, and includes a fire garden, torchlit procession, fire sculpture and performance that will delight friends and family of all ages. Awake the next day to a delicious cooked or continental breakfast with views out to the magnificent Loch Ard and surrounding forest-covered hills and mountains.

Torchlit procession, Edinburgh


Alveston Manor, Stratford-upon-Avon

It stands to reason that the home of Shakespeare would relish the opportunity to celebrate the historical significance of May Day, which is why a stay at our 16th century manor house is to enjoy a break that’s entirely in keeping with the origins of the celebration.

Enjoy a central position close to all key landmarks and attractions, including a trip to Waterside Market on Monday, 6th May to discover over 90 stalls showcasing vintage items, crafts, clothing and more, while the Stratford Literary Festival will also run throughout the week until the Sunday.

Alveston Manor Exterior

Bath Spa Hotel, Bath

As Shakespeare’s sonnet goes, the ‘darling buds of May’ will be on full display this May Day Bank Holiday at our elegant hotel in Bath. With 7 acres of beautiful private grounds inclusive of budding seasonal flowers, striking statue and our very own beehive, start the summer season in style.

Venture into the city over the weekend to explore stunning parks and gardens, historical sights and take part in live music, comedy, and cultural events, including Frank Skinner at Theatre Royal and the Musical Party at Komedia Bath.

Theatre Royal, Bath

The Bear, Woodstock

Morris dancers will be a common sight across the weekend and May Day itself, with ceremonial activities of coloured ribbons attached to the maypole a custom dating back to the 17th century - after being reinstated by Charles II in 1660.

Oxford is the place to be for May Day tradition, with our charming 13th century former coaching inn a peaceful base from which to travel into the city. If you arrive on the 1st May for May Morning, you’ll also take in the famous annual event attracting thousands of people, where the Magdalen College Choir can be heard singing, before a procession through the high street.

The Compleat Angler, Marlow

Step back in time for an Elizabethan May Day Merriment event, being held at Chiltern Open Air Museum between Sunday 5th – Monday, 6th May, which is reachable in under 30 minutes by car from our stunning hotel on the banks of the River Thames.

Expect dancing, battle re-enactments and more, as you experience the excitement and expectation of a bountiful harvest from the eyes of those in the Elizabethan era. Roam through the authentic encampment as sumptuous food and drink is prepared, or witness the expert craftsmanship of the time through intriguing demonstrations.

May Day Merriment, Chiltern Open Air Museum

Portal Golf & Spa Resort, Cheshire

The leafy countryside surrounding our inviting golf and spa destination near the attractive village of Tarporley, is the ideal setting to unwind over the Early May Bank Holiday weekend.

Switch off with a spa treatment and savour classic British dishes in SALT brasserie after visiting Knutsford May Day Fun Fair and wider Knutsford Royal May Day, the latter of which takes place annually on the first Saturday of May – featuring a procession through the town and the crowning of the ‘May Queen’ – and is an officially sanctioned royal event.

Portal Cheshire Views

Macdonald Windsor, Windsor

Visit the home of royal activity and stay right at the heart of all Early May Bank Holiday events, with our enticing hotel found on the main street leading up to the iconic Windsor Castle.

Keen horse lovers will want to attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show, which is the UK’s largest outdoor premier event of its kind and takes place in the castle grounds until Sunday, 5th May. If you have little ones in tow, a must-see is the Family Fun Day at Royal Windsor Racecourse on the May Day Bank Holiday, with sporting activities, child-friendly entertainment and fun fair on hand.

Windsor Castle and Gardens