Holidays, seasons and time
The UK has a variety of public holidays when workplaces and offices
close for the day. These are often called ‘bank’ holidays.
Many shops and facilities close during the public holidays, especially
at Christmas. You should try to find out about other activities
if you do not intend to spend the time studying, as these holidays
can be quite lonely when everything is closed and there seems to
be nothing to do!
1st January: New Year’s Day
2nd January: Bank Holiday (Scotland only)
17th March: St Patrick’s Day (Northern Ireland only)
March/April (date varies): Good Friday and Easter Monday (not Scotland)
First Monday in May: May Day
Last Monday in May: Spring Bank Holiday
12th July: Battle of the Boyne (Northern Ireland only)
First Monday in August: Bank Holiday (Scotland only)
Last Monday in August: Bank Holiday (not Scotland)
25th December: Christmas Day
26th December: Boxing Day
Joining in Celebrations
Many of the celebrations can be very good fun, and it is worth
finding out what is happening in your locality. Hogmanay (Scotland’s
new year celebrations) can be particularly lively. At Easter there
are often parades and fairs.
Christmas is a part of the year when there are lots of celebrations
throughout the UK. However, many facilities in town and at college
close down for the week in between Christmas and New Year. On Christmas
day and Boxing Day, most shops are closed and most public transport
During the weeks before Christmas, churches have special services
called ‘Carol Services’, where traditional Christmas
songs are sung. There are always special Christmas services on Christmas
Day itself. It is well worth participating in a hospitality scheme
as otherwise you can feel quite lonely during the Christmas period.
The seasons and weather
The weather is a favourite topic of conversation in the UK because
it changes so much! The winter
(November – March) is cold (average 2-5°c) with a combination
of rain, snow, wind and fog. In the autumn (September – November),
it is generally mild, but sometimes cold. The summer (June-August)
is warm (average 15-20°c but often hotter) and reasonably dry.
In the spring (March-May), you can expect pleasant and mild weather
– sometimes sunny, sometimes rainy. The north of the UK is generally
cooler than the south.
You will need a variety of clothing for different times of the
year. It is helpful to have several layers of clothing that can
be added or removed as required: wool for warmth, cotton for keeping
cool and waterproofs for the rain. An umbrella is always useful!
A thick pair of gloves, a scarf and some heavy boots (in case of
snow) are also very useful, especially if you live in the north
of England, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Changing the time
In the UK, we change the time / our clocks and watches twice a
year. In the winter months,
we have GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and in the summer it is BST (British
Summer Time). GMT starts at the end of October and we put the time
back by 1 hour. BST starts at the end of March and we put the time
forward by 1 hour. The change is always made very early on a Sunday
morning (to minimise disruption) and the exact date is therefore
different every year. The date is usually noted in UK diaries and
This guide is copyrighted © Friends International 2005. No
part of this work may be reproduced without
the written permission of Friends International.
Additional local information provided by Friends International in Guildford, 2007.