Spring is officially here and for Britons up and down the land that means one thing - bank holidays.
After the long Easter weekend in April, two long weekends that bookend May are right around the corner meaning the next few weeks are about as relaxed as you can get.
Here's all the dates so you can make the most of those four day weeks and gloriously long weekends.
Firstly, some history
A public holiday in the UK is generally referred to as a 'bank holiday'.
The Bank Holidays Act of 1871 designated four bank holidays in England, Wales and Ireland (Easter Monday; Whit Monday; First Monday in August; Boxing Day in England and Wales and St Stephen's Day in Ireland) and five in Scotland (New Year's Day; Good Friday; First Monday in May; First Monday in August; Christmas Day).
In England, Wales and Ireland, Good Friday and Christmas Day were considered traditional days of rest (as were Sundays) and therefore it was felt unnecessary to include them in the Act.
The Act was repealed in 1971 and superseded by the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, which remains in force.
The name is now used as a blanket term for all public holidays in the UK as banks, government offices and most businesses are closed on these days, although an increasing number of smaller shops and larger retail businesses remain open.
Public holidays in Britain comprise bank holidays declared by statute (as listed in the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, Schedule 1), by royal proclamation, and common law/customary holidays
(Good Friday and Christmas Day are not official bank holidays in England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
Royal proclamation is also used to move holidays that would otherwise fall on a weekend or that are moved for special occasions, or to create additional one-off holidays (such as for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012).
When a bank holiday happens to fall on a Sunday the following Monday becomes the day when the holiday is observed. This is known as substitute day or 'bank holiday in lieu'.
If the Monday is also a bank holiday, the substitute day moves to the following weekday. UK public holidays always move forward in the calendar, never backwards.
The August bank holiday always falls on the last Monday of August in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and on the first Monday of August in Scotland.
There are six permanent bank holidays and two public holidays every year in the UK.
2017 Bank holiday and public holiday dates
- New Year's Day (substitute day) Monday, January 2
- Good Friday: Friday, April 14
- Easter Monday: Monday, April 17
- Early May bank holiday: Monday, May 1
- Spring bank holiday: Monday, May 29
- Summer bank holiday: Monday, August 28
- Christmas Day: Monday, December 25
- Boxing Day: Tuesday, December 26
- Valentine's Day: Tuesday, February 14
- St David's Day: Wednesday, March 1
- St Patrick's Day: Friday, March 17
- Mothering Sunday: Sunday, March 26
- St George's Day: Sunday, April 23
- Father's Day: Sunday, June 18
- Halloween: Tuesday, October 31
- Guy Fawkes Night: Sunday, November 5
- St Andrew's Day: Thursday, November 30
School term dates 2017
Spring term 2017:
- School starts: Thursday, January 5
- Half term break: Monday, February 13 to Friday, February 17
- Easter holidays: (last day of term) Friday, March 31 (Easter falls on Sunday, April 16)
Summer term 2017
- Easter Monday bank holiday: Monday, April 17
- School starts: Tuesday, April 18
- Early May bank holiday: Monday, May 1
- Half term break: Monday, May 29, to Friday, June 2
- Summer holidays: (last day of term) Friday, July 21
Autumn term 2017:
- School starts: Monday, September 4
- Half term break: Monday, October 23 to Friday, October 27
- Christmas holidays (last day of term): Friday, December 15
How can you maximise you annual leave?
Our – on average – 26 days of paid holiday per year have us Britons feeling more relaxed than employees in the USA (15 days) and Japan (20 days).
But we are almost a week worse off than our counterparts in France, Spain and Germany (30 days) when it comes to fleeing the office.
All the more reason, then, to make the most of your bank holidays.
Every British worker-bee can expect eight of these precious nuggets of downtime – nine if you live in Scotland; 10 if Northern Ireland is home. And with a little planning, these can be used to create a year of getaways which stretch that meagre allowance of 26 days to something far longer.