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August bank holiday: The 20 best things to do around the UK

Sarah Young
AFP/Getty Images

Summer might be drawing to a close but before the days get shorter and the kids head back to school, there’s plenty of bank holiday fun to be had.

On what many consider to be the last weekend of the summer, the bank holiday falls on Monday 27 August and offers us the chance to make the most of what warm weather is left.

If you’re stuck for ideas on how to make the most of the three-day break though, we've put together a guide of the very best events and activities happening all over the UK.

Notting Hill Carnival, London

Notting Hill Carnival will take place over the bank holiday weekend (AFP/Getty Images)

When: 26 – 27 August

Price: Free

Every year, London sets aside its weekend for one of the world’s largest street carnivals: Notting Hill Carnival.

Taking place over the bank holiday weekend, the two-day celebration of Caribbean heritage attracts one million attendees with costume-clad dancers, musical performances and street vendors selling foods like jerk chicken, callaloo and traditional goat stew.

Sunday is officially children’s day while Monday will see the celebration culminate with the Grand Finale Parade.

Arundel Festival, West Sussex

Arundel Festival is the biggest of its kind in the South of England (Arundel Festival)

When: 27 August

Price: Free

The biggest arts festival in the South of England, this event takes place at Arundel Castle in West Sussex. Entertainment includes everything from live musical performances to theatre, comedy and exhibitions.

Pride Cymru, Cardiff

Pride Cymru will take place on the City Hall Lawns (Pride Cymru)

When: 24 – 26 August

Price: From £7, or watch the parade for free

Pride Cymru returns for another year to celebrate equality and diversity with events taking place on every day of the bank holiday weekend on the City Hall Lawns. On Saturday, thousands of people are expected to take part in the main parade through the streets of the city.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Edinburgh

Thousands of acts will perform at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Getty Images)

When: 03 – 27 August

Prices: Vary

The world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival features a programme of more than 53,000 performances and 3,000 shows.

Every year, thousands of performers take hundreds of stages all over Edinburgh to present shows for every taste, from theatre and comedy to dance, circus, children’s shows, opera and spoken word.

Robin Hood Festival, Nottingham

Activities at the Robin Hood Festival include storytelling and archery (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

When: 27 August – 02 September

Price: Free

If you’re at a loose end this bank holiday Monday consider visiting the Robin Hood Festival, which is in its 25th year. Held at Sherwood Forest Country Park, the week-long event will feature live music, storytelling, theatre and mediaeval magicians.

Smithfield Market Street Party, London

Smithfield Market is hosting a street party to celebrate its 150th birthday

When: 25 – 26 August

Price: Free

To celebrate its 150th birthday, Smithfield Market is hosting a party with six festival zones, 200 performers and more than 30,000 visitors. A family-friendly event, the party will be hosted across two days with live music, mocktail-making classes and free manicures from WAH Nails. There will also be drinks and street food.

Spice Girls Exhibition, Manchester

The Spice Girls exhibition is coming to Manchester (Getty Images)

When: 24 August – 05 September

Price: £10

The biggest touring exhibition of Spice Girls memorabilia in the world is descending upon Manchester just in time for the bank holiday weekend. The exhibition includes hundreds of iconic costume pieces from the band’ heyday to merchandise and pop music history.

Insomnia Gaming Festival, Birmingham

Visitors to the event will have the opportunity to play the latest games (Getty Images)

When: 24 – 27 August

Price: From £25

The UK’s biggest gaming festival is descending on Birmingham from Friday at the NEC and is a must-see for gaming fanatics. The non-stop event offers guests the opportunity to play the latest games, experience virtual reality and meet a whole host of popular YouTubers.

Beautiful Allotment, London

The Beautiful Allotment will take place at the Geffrye Museum (Beautiful Allotment)

When: 22 August – 01 September

Price: Free

Beautiful Allotment is taking up residency in the Victoria Gardens of the Geffrye Museum, transforming the magnificent grounds into an area brimming with bookable day beads, potting sheds, makeshift cocktails bars and BBQ areas all mixed in with trailing plants and vegetable patches.

Roaming “garden tenders” will bring drinks to guests on wheel barrow bars and there will also be platters of vegan, vegetarian, fish and meat options.

Ice Cream Festival, Kent

The Ice Cream Festival will have more than 20 different flavours on offer (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

When: 27 August

Price: Adults £9.95, Children (3-15) £8.25

Kent Life welcomes back the Ice Cream Festival for another year, offering hungry guests the chance to try more than 20 fabulous flavours of ice cream. The event will take place in Heritage Farm Park and will also host chocolatiers, sweet stalls and a number of activities including face painting and a Punch and Judy show.

Glitter Fest, London

There will be everything from glitter body paint to glitter cannons (Getty Images)

When: 25 August

Price: £4

Make your way over to the Big Chill House at King’s Cross this bank holiday for an event filled with glitter cannons, glitter body paint and a night of DJs playing everything from disco to funk, soul and hip hop. Even better, all the glitter used on the night will be biodegradable and environmentally friendly.

Swansea Beer Festival, Swansea

Indulge in everyhting from bitters to pale ales (Getty Images)

When: 23 – 25 August

Swansea Beer Festival returns for its 32nd event which will showcase more than 100 of Britain’s finest beers. Drinkers will be spoiled for choice with everything from bitters and milds to stouts, pale ales and speciality beers on offer.

Milton Abbey Music Festival, Dorset

Head to Milton Abbey in Dorset for a wide array of musical performances (Getty Images)

When: 24 – 27 August

Delivering a week of glorious music-making in the surrounds of Milton Abbey in Dorset, this event celebrates the joy of singing and plays host to an exciting cast of internationally recognised artists. The line-up includes everything from classical concerts to choral services and an evening of jazz.

South West Four, London

South West Four is host to some of the biggest names in the music business (Getty Images)

When: 25 – 26 August

Price: £65 + £8.13 booking fee

If you haven’t managed to make it to any festivals this year head to Clapham Common for a weekend of music including big-room house, EDM, electro, techno and trance. The line-up features a whole host of big names such as Armin Van Buuren, Dizzee Rascal, DJ EX and Andy C.

The Monster Inflatable Obstacle Course, London

The inflatable obstacle course is twice the length of a football pitch (The Monster)

When: 24 – 27 August

Price: £23

Unleash your inner child this bank holiday and visit The Monster – an inflatable obstacle course that’s twice the length of a football pitch. Held at London’s Alexandra Palace, the 300-metre-long trial sees guests travel down an 18-metre slide, crawl through tunnels and jump into a giant adult ballpit.

There’s also a spread of street food and craft beers and cocktails available at the finish line.

Street Art’s Festival, Exeter

The Festival will showcase the work of several local artists (Getty Images)

When: 25 August

Price: Free

This weekend Exeter’s city centre will host a one day festival dedicated to showcasing local vibrant art, performances and displays. Open from 10am to 5pm the line-up promises a day full of culture, music and art and is family-friendly.

Manchester Pride Big Weekend, Manchester

Singers including Rita Ora will be performing at Manchester Pride(Getty Images)

When: 24 – 27 August

Price: £30 weekend tickets, £8 for children aged 3-12, £18.50 day tickets

If you’re in Manchester this bank holiday make sure you don’t miss out on Manchester Pride as the city holds its annual festival to celebrate its LGBT community.

Manchester’s famous Gay Village will play host to The Big Festival across the weekend with performances from Rita Ora, Jake Shears and Alexandra Burke. Saturday night will also see Manchester Pride’s official after-party, Glitterbox, take over Albert Hall.

The Great Brick Adventure, Liverpool

The lego-inspired event will feature some of the world's best models (Getty Images)

When: 25 – 27 August

Price: Adult £13.95, Children £11.95, Family Ticket, £39.80, Ages three and under go free

If you’re struggling to entertain your children a visit to Liverpool’s Great Brick Adventure could be worth a look. A celebration of Lego, the event will feature three interactive zones showcasing some of the world’s best Lego models including 80 life-sized animal attractions, robots and a life-sized dragon.

Wimbledon Park Food Festival, London

Guests can expect everything from pastries and cheese to fudge (Getty Images)

When: 25 – 27 August

Price: £6

Foodies should head to Wimbledon Park this bank holiday where an impressive 45 stalls will be offering a wide range of food and drink including artisan pastries, fudge, BBQ pulled pork and cheese. The festival will also host a number of different activities including music and a petting farm. The entry fee includes a two-for-one voucher for a glass of prosecco.

Outdoor Cinema Screenings, Oxford

Watch some of your favourite films under the stars this bank holiday (Getty Images)

When: 21 – 24 August

Price: Adults £13.95, Children £9.50

Outdoor cinema screenings have taken over the UK this summer but if you haven’t managed to visit one yet Cult Screen’s is showing in the gardens of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.

The event will feature films such as Jaws, The Greatest Showman and Top Gun in the line-up.

Beer Festival, London

The Raven's Ait Beer Festival will offer a selection of 60 beers (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

When: 24 – 27 August

Price: £6

With a selection of 60 beers, ales and ciders as well as delicious food and musical performances from local artists, Raven’s Ait annual Beer Festival promises to be a huge hit this bank holiday. The four day event will take place in Kingston Upon Thames and is family friendly.