This is why we have an August bank holiday - and when the next public holiday will fall in 2020

How will you be spending the bank holiday? (Photo: Getty Images)

The school holidays may have felt like an extended break this year due to schools being closed since March, but the summer break is now coming to an end.

But before kids in England make their return to classrooms, there is one final long weekend of summer to enjoy before heading into autumn.

When does the August bank holiday fall?

The August bank holiday is always observed on the last Monday of the month in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This year, the bank holiday falls on Monday 31 August.

In Scotland, the holiday is observed slightly earlier, with Scots enjoying the long weekend on the first Monday of the month instead, falling on 3 August this year.

Why do we have an August bank holiday?

The August bank holiday was first introduced by the Bank Holidays Act of 1871, which designated a total of four holiday days in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and five in Scotland.

The holiday was originally intended to allow bank employees the opportunity to participate and attend cricket matches, and enjoy the last day of summer.

Up until 1971 the holiday was always observed on the first Monday of August, but was later moved to the last Monday in the month for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The new date was trialled from 1965 to 1970 and has remained on the final Monday in August ever since, with the change occurring as the original day clashed with the traditional two-week shut down that many companies went through in the summer.

However, in Scotland the holiday has continued to remain on the first Monday in August.

Families keen to make the most of the long weekend have been warned to expect heavy traffic and delays on major routes, as thousands are expected to head out on day trips.

Almost two million more leisure journeys are expected to be taken this year compared with last August, as people aim to make the most of the time off after months of being at home due to lockdown.

The RAC is predicting a total of 18 million leisure trips will be taken by car over the bank holiday weekend, leading to “bumper-to-bumper” traffic on key routes.

When is the next bank holiday?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the next bank holiday will fall on Christmas Day, on Friday 25 December.

This will be followed by Boxing Day, with the bank holiday falling on a Monday this year, on 28 December.

If a bank holiday falls on a weekend, a ‘substitute’ weekday then becomes a bank holiday, instead, with this normally moved to the following Monday instead.

In Scotland, the next bank holiday will be on Monday 30 November for St Andrew’s Day.

The remaining bank holidays for the rest of the year are then the same as in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, falling on 25 and 28 December.