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British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
Where do British people go on their holidays?

Two-thirds of all British people have their holidays in July and August, which are the most popular months for holidays. English school children are on holiday from the end of July to the beginning of September.

Traditional Holidays

Seaside holidays

The traditional British holiday is a seaside holiday. Children used to watch a Punch and Judy show (puppets) and ride donkeys along a beach.

Punch and judy
Punch and Judy show

rides along the beach
Donkey rides along the beach

Candy floss

Traditional things to eat at the seaside are candy floss (pictured left)
and a stick of rock sweet (see below).



Many British people spend much of their free time during the summer months down by the sea. Children enjoy swimming in the sea and building sandcastles.

There are places near the sea, such as Blackpool, Scarborough and Bournemouth, where there is plenty to do even if it rains.

Holidays Abroad


Europe is the most popular destination for UK residents, accounting for 80 per cent of visits abroad. Spain has been the most popular country to visit since 1994, with 13.8 million visits in 2005. France was second in popularity, with 11.1 million visits.

The number of visits by UK residents to the USA increased by 2 per cent in 2005 to 4.2 million, 6 per cent higher than the number in 2001.

The number of visits abroad made by UK residents has more than tripled since 1985, to a record 66.4 million visits in 2005.

Holiday trips abroad

1971 - 6.7 million

2005 - 66.4 million

Two-thirds of these visits abroad are holidays with about half (47 per cent) package holidays.

Source: International Passenger Survey, Office for National Statistics

TOP Destinations for British tourists 2005

The five countries to which UK residents made the most visits in 2005 remained unchanged from 2004. These were Spain (13.8 million visits in 2005), France (11.1 million visits), USA (4.2 million visits), Irish Republic (4.2 million visits) and Italy (3.4 million visits). The next five countries also remained unchanged from 2004; Greece, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal and Belgium.

Graph of the Top ten holiday destinations

Preferred mode of transport to holiday destinations

  • Air 43 million
  • Sea 9.7 million
  • Channel Tunnel (train) 5.6 million

Popular holiday trends

  • Most holidays are taken in July and August
  • More and more Britons are taking a second holiday abroad in the winter (skiing for a week) or Spring (weekend/short breaks to European cities)
  • Seaside package holidays are the most popular type of holiday.
  • Most working people have 4 weeks holiday per year and take 2 weeks off in the Summer

A Timeline of British Holiday Habits


Ordinary working people only had holidays on ‘holy’ days (Sundays, Christmas, Easter)

Steam train1850-1900

The creation of a national railway system helped ordinary people travel. Most holidays were day trips to the British seaside by train.


Caravan holiday1900-1960s

Most Britons started to take a short Summer holiday for a week. Camping and holidays in caravans became popular in the 60s as people started to buy cars. British holiday camps were popular.



aeroplaneThe airline industry expanded and tour operators started to offer very cheap package holidays to Spain or ‘last minute’ cheap fares. Large numbers of UK residents started to go abroad for their holidays. The package holiday boom started.


Skiing holiday1980s

Skiing holidays were starting to become popular and the package industry continued to expand. British tourists started to prefer a package holiday abroad to an expensive British holiday


USA Flag1980s-1990s

Packages to the USA became much cheaper than trips to British resorts.
Most ordinary people went abroad.


1990s - 2007

Exotic destinationA second yearly holiday became possible with more and more cheap packages. Holidays to Australia and more exotic locations became cheap enough for many ordinary working people.

Other pages on a similar theme.

What do British people do for leisure?

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© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2014

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consultant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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