The early May bank holiday in 2020 will move from Monday, May 4 to Friday, May 8 to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, which takes place on May 8.
Business Secretary Greg Clark announced the change, stating it would enable people to pay tribute to those who served in one of the ‘most significant events in our country’s history’.
The occasion will remember the contribution of British, Commonwealth and Allied armed forces personnel; those who contributed to the war effort and safeguarded the Home Front.
As well as marking the Allies’ victory in 1945, the bank holiday will serve as an opportunity to pay tribute to those who have served and continue to serve in the UK Armed Forces and their families.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “VE Day marked an historic moment in not only our nation’s, but the world’s history and it is important that we commemorate this great occasion on its 75th anniversary.
“Moving next year’s early May bank holiday to VE Day itself is a right and fitting tribute. It will ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to remember and honour our heroes of the Second World War and reflect on the sacrifices of a generation.”
Although the change has been welcomed by the likes of the SAFA, the Armed Forces charity, it has been questioned why an extra bank holiday could not have been added, as was the case with Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding on Friday, April 29, 2011.
The change has also impacted on events that had already been planned for the first May bank holiday, as well as couples who had booked their wedding to coincide with the bank holiday weekend.
The Jack in the Green parade, part of a four-day festival that takes place in Hastings, sees thousands of visitors descend on the town, and also coincides with the May Day Run, a hugely popular motorbike convention.
Organisers have said plans, such as booking the bands, were already well underway for the Monday.
This is only the second time ever that the early May bank holiday has been moved – the first was in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day.
Plans for the weekend include the Nation’s Toast, where more than 20,000 pubs will encourage patrons to raise a glass to the heroes of the Second World War, and local street parties and celebrations.
Other events will see bagpipers playing the traditional Battle’s O’er at the top of the four highest peaks in the UK – Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England, Mount Snowdon in Wales, and Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland – plus bells in churches and cathedrals across the country joining forces in a special Ringing Out for Peace.
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