News // 24.08.2023

10 of the Best Bank Holiday Activities


Is it that time already? Summer finally decided to show its beaming face, and we have a long weekend to look forward to - all thanks to a bloke called John Lubbock who invented bank holidays in 1871. He also tried (and failed) to teach his poodle to read.

True story.

If that doesn’t get you in the party spirit, then let this collection of the best August bank holiday activities whet your appetites as we raise a glass to the long weekend!

Notting Hill Carnival, London

It’s the big one! Nothing says ‘3 day party’ quite like a carnival, and the seminal celebration in London’s Notting Hill is widely recognised as one of the largest street festivals in the known universe.

This iconic fiesta of festivities takes place over every day of the long weekend, an embrace of Caribbean culture in the capital with music, dancing, food and drink, and a tonne of other bank holiday activities.

Notting Hill Carnival attracts roughly 1 million people every year, quite a few more than a tube train can carry, so we recommend planning ahead for travel.

Alternatively, if you’d like a similar experience without the mad rush at Ladbroke Grove underground station, revered events organisers Reggae Brunch are holding their ‘Carnival Special’ events in London, Manchester and Leeds, offering up rum punch and delicious street food away from the madding crowds.

The Big Woof Dog Festival, London

You had us at ‘dog festival’. Actually, no. You had us at ‘Big Woof’.

King’s Cross in London is holding its first ever dog festival, dedicated to our furry friends and leading with loads of canine-friendly bank holiday activities.

You could enter your pet into a dog show ( including ‘happiest waggiest tail’), treat them to a new wardrobe of the latest animal accessories, sit them down for a portrait, relax at ‘snuggle fest’, or test their gastronomic prowess with various dog treat brands and mutt-friendly restaurants.

For the spiritual dogs, they even have tarot card reading, with the aim to help you understand your pet’s innermost needs: probably something like ‘ball, ball, ball, stick, food, sleep’.

Meanwhile, if you happen to be in Manchester, you can still treat your dog to the Posh Pooch Afternoon Tea, to have a lovely day out and engage in polite conversation over pet-friendly hors d’oeuvres.

Manchester Pride

One of the North West’s largest pride festivals takes place this long weekend, and is the perfect place to celebrate and show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in your city.

From the world-famous parade on the 26th, candlelit vigils on the 28th, village parties throughout the weekend and a whole host of inclusive bank holiday activities planned, Manchester Pride has nailed the ‘party as protest’ mantra.

There has never been a better time to show up and show your support, as well as immersing yourself in art, music, poetry, dance and loads more. Get involved!

50% off at Whistle Punks Axe Throwing

Europe’s premier axe throwing company is raising the bar and offering you fine folks 50% off this weekend.

You get to visit any one of our awesome venues in London, Leeds, Manchester or Bristol to learn how to sling axes at targets like a lumberjack for half the price. We have pizza! And beer! What’s not to love?

Just use the code BANKHOL50 to claim your excellent discount for sessions on this Saturday and Sunday only.

If you’re looking for one of the coolest and most entertaining bank holiday activities, don’t pass up this awesome opportunity.

Whistle Punks Best Bank Holiday Activities

Leeds Bear Hunt

Don’t worry, the council hasn’t unleashed a pack of grizzlies into the Victoria Quarter.

This is a wonderfully wholesome activity for the whole family to take part in this bank holiday weekend. In collaboration with local artists Wild In Art, Leeds Hospitals Charity have placed 35 bear statues throughout the city for you to track down and snap selfies with.

The trail itself is one of discovery, a great way to get to know the city whether you’re a local or just passing through.

The bears are all individually decorated by local artists, and the trail aims to raise funds for Leeds Children’s Hospital. This is truly one of the most family-friendly and satisfying bank holiday activities to look out for!

Repeat after me: ‘we’re going on a bear hunt…’

Summer On The Square, London

If you’re after bank holiday activities in London, you’re spoilt for choice. If anything, the sheer amount of things to do can be quite overwhelming.

Thankfully, there are some slightly more relaxed events out there for you if you don’t fancy having to buy tickets.

Summer On The Square is on every day of the August bank holiday weekend and is a totally free art exhibit outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.

Whether you fancy trying your hand at painting a masterpiece, experimenting with a new medium, immersing yourself in the gallery’s exhibits or creating your own art gallery with your family, you can do it all outside in London’s famous square.

You can even bring a picnic to save yourself from shelling out the big bucks in the local tourist traps!

One More Time – 90s and 00s Summer Party, Bristol

Maybe you enjoy a different kind of culture – one of matching tracksuits with geometric patterns, Union Jack dresses and headbands. If that sounds like you, Bristol has you sorted.

This Friday, head down to The Fleece for a night of non-stop 90s and 00s bangers for a bank holiday hit of nostalgia. We’re talking Xtina, Britney, Spice Girls, Oasis, and all the floorfillers you remember from a time when bank holidays didn’t really concern you.

Their poster also has a picture of David Hasselhoff, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what kind of lunacy is about to go down in Bristol this weekend.

If you’re looking for a feel-good festival throwback, this is the Bristol-based bank holiday bonanza to rule them all!

Royal Armouries Jousting Tournament, Leeds

Bank holiday activities are all well and good, but do you know what they’re always missing? Jousting.

Leeds Royal Armouries Museum invites you to suit-of-armour up for its fantastically fun-sounding weekend of jousting, taking you all the way back to your medieval roots with one of the most electrifying spectator sports of days gone by.

Lovingly referred to as ‘The Smashes’, England take on Australia in jousting battles throughout the weekend, riding horses towards each other at full pelt before using a big stick to knock the other off their horse.

There will be lots of ‘pomp and pageantry’ to keep you occupied between bouts, and your ticket also gives you access to the impressive Royal Armouries Museum, displaying some of the finest authentic armour from the time.

If you’ve ever wanted to relive the scenes from ‘A Knight’s Tale’, this is your chance!

Bar and cafe seating area in Whistle Punks

Wherever you may find yourself this weekend, this list of bank holiday activities only scratches the surface of the events happening around you this August.

Take this opportunity to embrace what your neighbourhood has to offer, whether it’s bears, beer or axe throwing!

Don’t forget to use your voucher code BANKHOL50 at checkout. We’ll see you on lane!

Words: Staff Writer