Last-minute bank holiday events

by Katie Rowe

Category: Things to do
May 21 2014

Make the most of the May Bank Holiday with events covering everything from opera in the countryside to a fancy-dress charity race in the mud…

Find more things to do this May bank holiday.

Best for families

Muncaster Festival, Cumbria

Head to the Lake District for an all-singing, all-dancing, family-friendly event that sees some of the best street performers show off their skills at Munster Castle. From May 25 – 29, little ones can burn off the ice cream and sweets with circus skills workshops, giant outdoor games, bouncy castles and archery, while adults can browse market stalls, catch cookery demonstrations and soak up the medieval sights and sounds over a picnic on the castle’s front lawn. Don’t miss the annual International Jesters Tournament held on the last day, an eccentric competition that sees comedic hopefuls battle to win the prestigious ‘Fool of Muncaster’ title.

Bournemouth Wheels Festival, Dorset

Speed demons and petrol heads won’t want to miss out on Bournemouth Wheels Festival, from May 24 – 26, when a dazzling array of classic cars, monster trucks, motorbikes and racing supercars kick up a storm on Bournemouth’s seafront. With 100 events crammed into just three days, there’s excitement aplenty to be had, with parades and live demos throughout the day, and music concerts and fireworks at night. Don’t miss out on the heart-pounding, daredevil stunts at the monster rally and catch the first ever attempt to jump Bournemouth Pier!

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers, Stoke-on-Trent

Take the little ones to Alton Towers Resort for the launch of the first ever CBeebies Land on May 24, which will bring much-loved children’s TV characters to life. Switch off the telly and let the little ones catch up with all their favourites face-to-face, including Mike the Knight and ZingZillas at Big Fun Showtime, which has a full schedule of events where children can meet some of the biggest CBeebies stars.  Keep an eye out for everyone’s favourite postman on the Postman Pat’s Parcel Post ride, where children take control of Pat’s van on his delivery route through Greendale. 

Best for culture vultures

Bath Fringe Festival, Somerset

The golden-stoned beauty of Bath attracts year-round visitors, but if you make a trip to the city between May 23 - June 8, you’ll encounter the Bath Fringe Festival in all its glory. Bath’s cafes, secret rooms and established venues play host to hundreds of events including theatre productions, spoken word performances and kids’ workshops, plus you can enjoy music, film and comedy throughout the Fringe as well.

Newcastle Does Vintage, Newcastle

Indulge in all things nostalgic in the grand surroundings of the Theatre Royal this May bank holiday. Sift through decades of men’s and women’s fashion, drool over table upon table of sparkling jewellery and bag everything from 1950s crockery to rare vinyl. Along with the stalls, there’ll be live music, free lindy-hop dance workshops, a pop-up tea room, a beauty parlour and a Men’s Zone where you can complete your look, plus instant photo-booths to capture you at your vintage best. Best thing of all, entry is only £1.

Glyndebourne Festival, East Sussex

Catch six spellbinding productions as Glyndebourne, a quintessentially English opera house surrounded by luscious gardens and the East Sussex countryside, hosts its annual festival between May and July. Glyndebourne celebrates its 80th Anniversary this year and to mark the occasion, not only will there be three new productions and an eagerly anticipated new Music Director entertaining around 85,000 visitors dressed up to the nines, operatic sounds will also sweep across the country as Der Rosenkavalier, Don Giovanni and La traviata are screened at Picturehouse cinemas throughout the summer.

Best for something different

Cheese Rolling, Gloucestershire 

Every year on the last Monday of May, a group of what can only be described as crazy people hurl themselves down a very steep hill in pursuit of a large, rolling 7-8lb Double Gloucester cheese. The tradition of cheese rolling is centuries old and is apparently rooted in a pagan ritual celebrating the return of spring. There are three men’s races, and one ladies’, with the first cheese rolled at midday. Each race lasts about 30 seconds, if that, during which hundreds of competitors roll, bounce and slide down the 200m, 1:2 gradient slope. We’re not suggesting you take part – it really is a bizarre thing to do, as proven by the copious amounts of broken bones over the years – but join the crowds to watch this awesome, unique and utterly English event.

Maldon Mud Race, Essex 

Competitors from across the country are warming up for the 2014 Maldon Mud Race on May 25. The event features around 300 competitors in fancy dress, wading through thick mud along the bed of the River Blackwater to raise money for local charities. Join them in a mad scramble through the stinking, ink-black mud or if you’d rather stay clean, cheer them on from the sidelines.

Katie Rowe

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