This May, there are three bank holidays to look forward to – Monday 1st May, Monday 8th May and Monday 29th May. How amazing is that! With the extra time off work, it’s the perfect opportunity to get the most out of your annual leave and embark on a brand-new overseas adventure.
Whether you’re thinking about taking a short break – or even a day trip – with family, friends or a partner, you can beat the summer crowds to many great European destinations, including France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
To ensure holiday-makers are getting the very best deal, P&O Ferries is rolling out some unmissable offers. On the Dover to Calais ferry crossing, you can travel each way from just £72 or take a day trip from £39.
So, where are the best spots to visit in May 2023 and what is there to look forward to over the bank holiday weekends? Let’s find out…
France is one of the most visited destinations in the world. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise as the country is renowned for its beauty, culture and rich history. From the bright lights of Paris to the idyllic countryside and coast, France has it all.
Those who find themselves in France for the late May bank holiday weekend can check out Loire Valley Festival des Roses, taking place on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th May. Visitors can stroll through the garden village and see the many charming rose varieties on display while meeting professional nurserymen and rose specialists. There will be exhibitions, painters, craftsmen and other kinds of garden activities to discover.
If music is more your thing, Lille Wazemmesl'Accordéon International Festival kicks off on 6th May. This annual event has become one of the most important gigs North of Paris, with accordionists from all over the world coming together to entertain 25,000 people!
Each year, between late May and mid-June, the D-Day landing beaches host a variety of events in tribute to the Allied soldiers who liberated France on 6th June 1944. The D-Day Festival starts on 27th May, offering a varied programme of liberation-themed events, with everything from guided hikes and tours to commemorative gatherings, fireworks, historical re-enactments, concerts and parades.
Perhaps Belgium is on your travel bucket list? If so, May is an ideal time to visit. Enjoy the warmer weather, tuck into some delicious local food such as waffles and frites, sip on a Belgium beer and surround yourself with the stunning spring flowers which colour the cities and countryside.
Floralia Brussels flower show ends on 4th May, offering the last chance to see over 1 million flowers hand-planted by gardeners across the grounds of the castle of Groot-Bijgaarden.
There’s also the Iris Festival in Brussels on 6th- 7th May – a jam-packed weekend of festivities to celebrate the Brussels-Capital Region's 34th birthday. You can look forward to plenty of free activities and parties, including DJs, street performances, magic, food trucks, and face painting and rides for the kids, plus much more.
Germany is another wonderful European destination to visit, and it’s within easy reach of the Calais ferry port. There are over 15 different regions to explore, and over the May bank holiday weekends, you can enjoy countless activities, festivals and special events.
Check out the Rhine in Flames celebrations on 6th May. This dazzling fireworks display sees an ever-changing kaleidoscope of lights erupt above the River Rhine and romantic Rhine Valley. The event, which takes place on five occasions between May and September, also includes Europe's biggest riverboat parade, which makes the trip from Spay to Koblenz – offering picturesque views of the lit-up Rhine villages, fortresses and castles.
Germany is home to beautiful nature reserves – over 10 of which are less than five hours from Calais. So, if your idea of the perfect bank holiday weekend includes a hike through magnificent woodland, moors, marshes and beaches surrounded and an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, then this is the trip for you. Just a few examples of national parks include Lower Saxony Wadden Sea, Kellerwald-Edersee and Saar-Hunsrück.
If you’re thinking about visiting the Netherlands this May, you won’t be disappointed. It’s one of the most popular times for tourism – although not as busy as the summer – with many making the trip to see the iconic blooming tulips and other flowers.
Keukenhof Gardens, near Amsterdam, offers a unique experience for adults and children alike. Every year, more than 7 million flower bulbs are planted by hand in the autumn to flower in spring, and there are 800 different tulip varieties.
Open until 14th May, Keukenhof offers family-friendly activities in abundance, including boat trips, cycling and guided tours. It’s a paradise for kids too, with an animal meadow, playground, maze and scavenger hunt!
Marking the end of the Nazi occupation after the Second World War, Liberation Day, known in Dutch as 'Bevrijdingsdag', is on 5th May. To celebrate, there will be a huge variety of events, veterans parades, feasts and music, theatre and poetry festivals throughout the Netherlands. Examples include Het Vrije Westen on Westergasterrein in Amsterdam; Liberation Festival of The Hague; Liberation Festival of South Holland, held in Rotterdam; and Liberation Festival of Utrecht.
For more details and to book a crossing this May, visit www.poferries.com.
Terms and conditions
Offer applies to Dover to Calais service only. Book by 31st May 2023 for travel by 30th June 2023. Offer is subject to restricted space and availability, applies to new bookings only and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. £39 price applies to travel on Monday to Thursday. A £16 supplement charge applies for travel Friday to Sunday. Valid for travel for car and up to nine passengers or a motorcycle and up to two passengers. Excludes motorhomes, van, minibus, special vehicles, vehicles towing a caravan and foot passengers and bookings made at port. Certain travel date exclusions apply. P&O Ferries reserves the right to amend or withdraw all elements of the promotion without prior notice. The price for return travel with a car only is £39. Different prices apply to travel with other vehicles.