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The Art of a Bank Holiday – An American’s View

Resident American Bella Lewis ponders the phenomenon of the Bank Holiday.

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Soho House Farmhouse

Soho House Farmhouse

Hello all C&TH readers, occasional website cruisers and any mega fans who google searched my name and ‘opinion on bank holidays’. I haven’t had the chance to introduce myself yet, so it’s my long-anticipated pleasure to greet you without the italics of our standard article intro format. By now you’ll surely have picked up on my American accent (by way of NYC), but I like to drop it into conversation that my father is from London. I share that in hopes of muffling the cacophony of sound that is my pronunciation of water (‘wa-der’) and to offer up a similarity between me and potential English friends so as to encroach upon that elusive territory of ‘bonding’. I think it was brave of me to share that paltry friend-making approach with you. What I mean to say is that despite my semi-Britishness, the concept of a ‘bank holiday’ was, until recently, as foreign a concept to me as the New York subway system will forever be to Prince Louis.

Here’s the thing: In America, we do have the equivalent of bank holiday weekends. They’re called Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day Weekend (translation: Labour), Veterans’ Day Weekend, Presidents’ Day Weekend, Martin Luther King Jr. Day Weekend etc. What I like about the British Bank Holiday is that it is okay with being bombastically itself: a luxuriously long weekend in which there is little reflection about the heroic and important deeds of others. Because as much as I do actually listen to MLK Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on the third Monday of January every year, I’m sorry to say I don’t do much reflection on the other days, and neither do many Americans without a direct connection to those whom the long weekends honour. Memorial Day Weekend is when people open their swimming pools. In the fashion world, you’re not supposed to wear white after Labour Day.

British Bank Holidays, in their complete randomness, fully dedicate themselves to pleasure. And with the proximity of so many wonderful destinations to the UK, there is a real get-a-way mentality during bank holiday weekends that isn’t the same in America. And so, in considering the Art of a Bank Holiday, who better to turn to than Country & Town House, experts in the luxurious matters that a three day weekend ought to prioritise.

Recipes for Bank Holiday Success

A note for those pulling a fast one and tacking the long weekend onto a longer holiday to get the most bang for your buck: You might want to find out why we think this is the new way to shop a holiday wardrobe. Anyone with an I-will-not-leave-my-house-unless-its-on-fire mindset can thank us for our roundup of The Best Food Delivery Services this weekend. Stumped for something unusual and spontaneous? You’ll never have thought it was possible to Walk in the Footsteps of Beatrix Potter in the Lake District. If you’re looking for a classic way to ditch town, how about 48 hours in Copenhagen, Prague, Mallorca, Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Budapest or Florence? A more local long weekend has just as much opportunity: be it in Cornwall, Oxford or Manchester, consult our foodie guides to fulfil the holiday aspect of Bank Holiday with a lovely meal. And for the masses spending the weekend in London, go on, treat the city like one in which you’re on holiday. Splash out on a Musical or see a Play, that is, after you’ve dined either at a Special Occasion Restaurant, The Italian Way, or for A Steal at One of London’s Best Restaurants.

If your long weekend involves one or more of the above components, then congratulations, you are mastering the art of a Bank Holiday quite nicely.