Ideas And Inspo For The May Bank Holidays

For those with itchy feet, May is a relief of a month. After a dark and seemingly never-ending winter, the world really comes alive in May. With not one but two bank holidays – on 6 May and 27 May – and a school half term, we’re practically getting official permission to leave these shores in search of adventure.

But my, does it roll up fast. If you haven’t yet booked a May holiday, fear not – it’s still possible to jet (or catch the train) away to foreign climes. Best of all, there’s so much going on as the northern hemisphere truly begins its annual calendar of events. From quick art jaunts to transatlantic wellness trips, a bank holiday break is more achievable than you think. Here are some ideas and inspiration.

Funchal’s flower power

For a cheeky blast of sun, Madeira is a top place to go. Its location way out in the Atlantic and its balmy microclimate means you’re assured of warm weather. While beaches aren’t its strong point, there are certainly some, and hotels are well equipped with pools and lounging areas. Best of all, everywhere you look, Funchal bursts with an explosion of vibrant flora and fauna – that’s why it’s known as the Island of Eternal Spring. But there’s no better time to visit than in May, when the Funchal Flower Festival is on. Taking place from 2 May to 26 May this year, it sees huge draws of local traditions, shows, flower displays and parades across its streets. One of the most-loved events is on the first Saturday (this year, 4 May). This is when thousands of children carry flowers to place one on the Wall of Hope on Praça do Município. It’s a message for world peace, making for a heartfelt moment in Madeira’s capital.

Art in Paris

If you can grab a last-minute train to bonne Paris, it’s certainly a wonderful place to be in May. Spend a full day wandering around the momentous art in the Louvre. And its cultural offering just got better – at the Musée d’Orsay, the Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism exhibition celebrates 150 years of the renowned movement. It uses virtual reality to transport us to the launch of the world’s first Impressionist exhibition, at the studio of the famed photographer Nadar, where Monet, Renoir, Cézanne and Degas congregated to display their soon-to-be influential art.

Rev up for Eurovision

We’re sure that for plenty of people, the early May bank holiday will be about revving up for Eurovision, whose grand finale takes place on 11 May. Those who wish to partake can join in the fun in the well-connected Swedish city of Malmö. As the country best associated with the long-running festival (thanks largely to ABBA), there’ll be plenty of sequins and revelry in Malmö in the lead-up to the big day. It’s also a chance to see what this vibrant city has to offer – just don’t forget to leave time for a coffee and cinnamon bun break. You can fly into either Malmö or Copenhagen – even though that’s in Denmark, the airport is a handy 26-minute train ride away from Malmö.

A wellness retreat in Montreal

Hear us out: yes, going transatlantic over a bank holiday weekend is ambitious. But take a couple of days off either side, and Montreal will be worth the trip. It’s the closest big city across the pond, with a flight time of 7 hours 20 minutes, and has a veritable wealth of interesting spas in which to kick back and unwind once you arrive. Start off at Bota Bota: a refurbished boat-turned-spa stationed in the centre of Montreal, on the St Lawrence River that splits the city in two. It’s five levels of spa fun, with saunas, steam baths, whirlpools, baths, and treatment rooms. Another day, head to Nun’s Island, where Strøm Spa Nordique feels like a proper retreat even though it’s minutes from the city centre. Surrounded by lush trees, it’s an outdoor spa with hydrotherapy stations dotted around its verdant space. You’ll jet back feeling like a new person.

Get literary in Dublin

Where better to indulge in a long weekend of literature than Dublin, the spiritual home of storytelling. This year, its International Literary Festival, which has run since 1998, takes place from 17 to 26 May. Major draws include Richard E. Grant, Marian Keyes, David Nicholls and Amor Towles. Closing the festival in the late May bank holiday Sunday, famed author Kevin Barry discusses his new novel The Heart In Winter, his first novel since the Booker-longlisted Night Boat to Tangier. As one of the most serviced international destinations, the ever-popular Dublin is an ideal place for a last-minute booking.


Wherever you plan to head this year Switched On’s feature packed Travel Insurance policies offer peace of mind with 24/7 medical support, inclusive gadget cover and protection against cancellation, baggage and much more. Visit the Travel Insurance section of our website for further details.