Public holidays in Northern Ireland sometimes vary from those in the Republic and can be confusing at times. This is because Northern Ireland observes bank holidays that align with those in the United Kingdom. One example is the August Bank Holiday, which occurs on the first weekend of the month in the Republic, last weekend in Northern Ireland. Even Good Friday holiday observances can differ between the countries. Here is the definitive list of public holidays in Northern Ireland, with some remarks on other special days you might look out for.
New Year's Day—January 1st
New Year's Day is a public holiday all over Ireland, most businesses will be closed and public transportation will run on a very limited schedule. Should January 1st fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday will be a holiday in lieu.
Saint Patrick's Day—March 17th
Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday all over Ireland, most businesses will be closed at least part of the day. Should Saint Patrick's Day fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday will be a holiday in lieu.
Good Friday is a public holiday in Northern Ireland only. Expect cross-border traffic from Northern Ireland heading for retail centers in the Republic, depending on the current exchange rate, and the relative prices. The date varies each year but this is always the Friday before Easter Sunday.
Easter Monday is a public holiday all over Ireland, most businesses will be closed.
May Day Bank Holiday—First Monday in May
The first Monday in May is a public holiday all over Ireland, many businesses will be closed, though retailers generally stay open in urban areas. In Northern Ireland, this is known as the May Day Bank Holiday.
Spring Bank Holiday—Last Monday in May
A public holiday in Northern Ireland on the last Monday in May is known as Spring Bank Holiday.
Battle of the Boyne Anniversary—July 12th
The Battle of the Boyne Anniversary (actually on the wrong date, but never mind that) is a public holiday in Northern Ireland only and most businesses will be closed. There is major traffic heading off into the Republic for the day. Also, expect closures and temporary interruptions on routes through towns and cities. Should July 12th, the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday will be a holiday in lieu.
Summer Bank Holiday—Last Monday in August
The last Monday in August, also known as the Summer Bank Holiday, is a public holiday in Northern Ireland only. Most businesses (but not retailers like supermarkets) will be closed.
Christmas Day—December 25th
December 25th is a public holiday all over Ireland, this is the one day where the whole country really is completely closed down! Should Christmas Day fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday will be a holiday in lieu.
Boxing Day—December 26th
Boxing Day (or St. Stephen's Day) is a public holiday all over Ireland, though sales start in some urban areas and many shops are open. Should Boxing Day fall on a Saturday, the following Monday will be a holiday in lieu, should Boxing Day fall on a Sunday, the following Tuesday will be a holiday in lieu.
School Holidays in Northern Ireland
This is a rough outline of the school holidays in Northern Ireland:
- Schools re-open after Christmas break on the first working day in January.
- February mid-term break: schools close in mid-February for a long weekend.
- Easter break: all schools close for two weeks around Easter.
- Summer break: all schools are closed for up to two months from early July.
- Autumn mid-term break: schools close in mid-autumn for a long weekend.
- Schools close for Christmas break in late December.
Public Holidays in the Republic of Ireland
You will have noticed that some, but not all, public holidays are in force all over Ireland. There are, however, differences on several days and these usually tend to favor cross-border trips between the North and the Republic for shopping or recreation. Traffic jams may ensue, especially around main retail centers.