May is a much-loved month in the UK. It brings sunshine (most years), the start of late summer evenings (if the sun shines) and two three-day weekends thanks to the Bank Holiday Mondays at the beginning and end of the month (no matter the weather!). So why not push aside the usual temptation of a DIY mega store and escape for the weekend?
W. M. Thackeray wrote in Vanity Fair that... "a comfortable inn in Brighton is better than a spunging-house in Chancery Lane". What we think he meant by this, was that London is well worth escaping upon occasion in favour of a stylish holiday retreat in Brighton. With a pebbled beach offering the finest collection of skimming stones and a maze of alleyways containing cute coffee shops and quirky boutiques, Brighton can easily fill a family day out at any time of the year. However, the May Bank Holiday is a great time to head south to enjoy the final weekend of the Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe Festival. With a range of free comedy, music and theatre performances on offer throughout the city, take advantage of some free entertainment as well as some famous Brighton rock and some sunshine... we hope.
The two-week International Arts Festival takes over the cathedral city of Salisbury beginning with the bank holiday weekend and injects a mixture of arts, musical and literary events. With the majority of music acts being soul, jazz and blues based, expect a laid-back but family-friendly atmosphere over the Bank Holiday weekend thanks to a range of children's events. Include, if you can, a visit to the cathedral and if the weather's good, hire bikes and explore the city's many cycle routes. For something a bit different - and if you have a car - make the 15 minute drive to Stockbridge to the Museum of Army Flying, home to a collection of over 40 aircraft and interactive displays for kids of all ages.
Devon is one of the UK's secret weapons in the fight to convince people to take a "stay-cation" and when the sun shines on the county's southern shores and there's no work to be done, it's hard to justify those flights abroad. Instead rent a summer holiday cottage and discover brilliant beaches like Bantham Beach and South Milton Shores, where snorkeling and scuba diving is on offer to those not afraid of the cold waters. Slightly inland is Dartington, a small, quaint village that turns into a haven for foodies over the Bank Holiday weekend tanks to the Dartington Food Festival. Calling itself the Taste of the West, you can enjoy a cider bar, live music and a wide range of locally produced delicacies.
Tetbury and the Cotswolds
My most bizarre recommendation is to lose yourself in the rolling hills and scattered villages of the Cotswolds and find Tetbury, a small village that is transformed into a world leader in a particular, peculiar sport; Woolsack Racing. With spectators lining the streets, all eyes are on the competitors who must carry a full woolsack up and down the achingly steep Gumstool Hill in the centre of Tetbury. With the sacks weighing 60lb for the chaps or 30lb if you're a lass, the competitors huff and puff their way through the course, though it's all worthwhile as for the remainder of the day, spectators and competitors mingle in beer gardens supping local cider and eating from BBQs.
Manchester has much to offer visitors all year round - great shopping, the works of modern artist Lowry and the legacy of their football clubs - but the city really shines over the Bank Holiday weekend when the Great Manchester Run kicks off on Sunday. This 10km race celebrates its tenth birthday this year and is expecting a warm and enthusiastic crowd to urge the 40,000 runners on. Live music and carnival-esque floats of supporters will line the route, which takes in the city's key sights and with no work on the Monday you can expect celebrations to carry on into the evening. If visiting with children we recommend the Legoland Discovery Centre - home to over 2 million Lego bricks in some incredible constructions - or for boys of all ages, even those well into double figures, there's the National Football Museum.
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