How to Maximise Annual Leave in 2025 for UK & Ireland

How to maximise annual leave in 2025 UK and Ireland

Twenty-eight days a year. That’s the average amount of paid leave a UK employee gets per year. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? Most of us will tell you it doesn’t feel like much, either.  

But what if we told you that you can easily double it? Nope, it’s not Bernard’s Watch (a classic early noughties TV reference for all you Millennials!), and it’s not magic. No bending of the space–time continuum is needed, just some seriously savvy leave planning. Luckily, that’s our raison d’etre. As we’re generous folk, not ones to sit on our wisdom, we’re going to share the secret of ‘leave stacking’ so that you can squeeze every last drop of R&R out of 2025. 

So what’s the secret? 

Of course, it’s not actually extra leave (dream on), but a way of stretching your leave further by booking leave dates tactically to take longer breaks. You’ve still only taken 5.6 weeks of leave in total, but it should feel like 12. How on earth? 

The magic ingredient is bank holidays. We have a fair number of these in the UK, most of which are helpfully tagged onto the start or end of a weekend. This means if you plan your annual leave around a bank holiday, you can add an extra day to your break without having to use any extra leave 

In the best examples (yay for Easter), this means you can enjoy ten days off on the trot using just four days of leave (the Mon–Thurs leading up to Good Friday). If that’s not enough for you, you can take another four days’ leave after Easter Monday, giving you a whopping 16 days off using just 8 days’ leave. That’s enough for a two-week holiday, with a day either side for packing/unpacking, tackling the laundry and getting over your jet lag. If you’re in Scotland, Easter Monday is not a bank holiday, so this won’t work quite as well for you – but you do get extra bank holidays in December and January, perhaps some winter sun instead?! 

Christmas shifts around in the week, meaning some years offer greater leave maximisation opportunities than others. In 2025, Christmas very helpfully falls on a Thursday, with Boxing Day on a Friday, meaning you can get 9 consecutive days off with 3 days’ leave. You can extend this to 13 days with an extra 3 days’ leave if you want to include the 1st January 2026 bank holiday. Depending on when your leave calendar runs from, January leave might come out of the following year’s allowance, which you could use back-to-back for a whopper of a Christmas/New Year break – Australia, anyone?! Scroll down for the exact dates you need to book to make this dream a reality. 

Pull up the leave calendar! 

You can use leave stacking as a one-off to maximise a particular holiday, or you can take it to the extreme and book all of your leave this way to get the absolute most out of your leave allowance. If you want to be a pro-leave stacker, read on for the dates. 

Generally, the months to focus on are January, April, May, August and December. In other words, you want to build your holidays around Easter, May bank hols, and Christmas/New Year. For workers in England & Wales, if you booked off all of the dates below to stack your leave for 2025, you could enjoy 59 days’ worth of consecutive days off (bank hols and weekends included).  

Public Holidays for England and Wales 

Get 58 days off work by requesting 28 days of annual leave.

England and Wales have eight bank holidays in 2025. 
 

  • New Year’s Day – Wednesday, 1st January 2025 
  • Good Friday – Friday, 18th April 2025 
  • Easter Monday – Monday, 21st April 2025 
  • Early May Bank Holiday – Monday, 5th May 2025 
  • Spring Bank Holiday – Monday, 26th May 2025 
  • Summer Bank Holiday – Monday, 25th August 2025 
  • Christmas Day – Thursday, 25th December 2025 
  • Boxing Day – Friday, 26th December 2025 
Calendar showing how to maximise annual leave for England UK

Let’s use this example to break it down by month: 

  • January 2025: Book 2 days off (Thurs 2nd & Fri 3rd) after the New Year bank hol for 5 consecutive days off (Weds Jan 1st – Sun Jan 5th).  
     
    Top tip: it may not be too late to book off 30th and 31st December 2024 to bump this up to 9 consecutive days off, or, if you’ve got enough leave left, add on 23rd, 24th & 27th December 2024 for a huuuuuuge 16 days! If this takes from two different years’ leave allowances, even better.
     
     
  • April 2025: Book two sets of 4 days’ off (Mon 14th to Thurs 17th April, then Tues 22nd to Fri 25th April) for 16 consecutive days from Sat 12th to Sun 27th April.  
  • May 2025: Book 4 days off (Tues 6th to Fri 9th May) for 9 consecutive days (Sat 3rd to Sun 11th May), then another 4 days (Tues 27th to Fri 30th May) for a further 9-day run (Sat 24th May to Sun 1st June). 
  • August 2025: Book 4 days off (Tues 26th to Fri 29th August) for 9 consecutive days (Sat 23rd to Sun 31st August) 
  • December 2025: Book 6 days off (22nd to 24th, then 29th to 31st December) for 13 consecutive days (Sat 20th December 2025 to Thurs 1st Jan 2026). Top tip: if you also book off Friday 2nd January 2026, using some of your 2026 leave, you can bump this up to 16 consecutive days! 

The above is for England & Wales, which have eight bank holidays in 2025. You lucky folks in Scotland and Northern Ireland have a few extra ones to play with (a total of nine in Scotland, and ten in NI) so you have more options for how to stack your leave. Perhaps a long weekend around St Andrew’s Day or St Patrick’s Day is in store for 2025? 

Public Holidays in Scotland 

Get 60 days off work by requesting 27 days of annual leave. 

Scotland has nine bank holidays in 2025. 

  • New Year’s Day – Wednesday, 1st January 2025 
  • 2nd January – Thursday, 2nd January 2025 
  • Good Friday – Friday, 18th April 2025 
  • Early May Bank Holiday – Monday, 5th May 2025 
  • Spring Bank Holiday – Monday, 26th May 2025 
  • Summer Bank Holiday – Monday, 4th August 2025 
  • St Andrew’s Day (substitute day) – Monday, 1st December 2025 
  • Christmas Day – Thursday, 25th December 2025 
  • Boxing Day – Friday, 26th December 2025 
Calendar showing how to maximise annual leave for Scotland UK

Public Holidays in Northern Ireland 

Get 65 days off work by requesting 29 days of annual leave. 

Northern Ireland has ten bank holidays in 2025. 

  • New Year’s Day – Wednesday, 1st January 2025 
  • St Patrick’s Day  - Monday, 17th March 2025 
  • Good Friday – Friday, 18th April 2025 
  • Easter Monday – Monday, 21st April 2025 
  • Early May Bank Holiday – Monday, 5th May 2025 
  • Spring Bank Holiday – Monday, 26th May 2025 
  • Battle of the Boyne (Orangemen’s Day)(substitute day) – Monday, 14th July 2025 
  • Summer Bank Holiday – Monday, 25th August 2025 
  • Christmas Day – Thursday, 25th December 2025 
  • Boxing Day – Friday, 26th December 2025 
Calendar showing how to maximise annual leave for Northern Ireland UK


Public Holidays in Ireland
 

Get 77 days off work by requesting 33 days of annual leave. 

Ireland has ten bank holidays in 2025. 

  • New Year’s Day – Wednesday, 1st January 2025 
  • St Brigid's Day - Monday, 3rd February 2025 
  • Saint Patrick’s Day - Monday, 17th March 2025 
  • Easter Monday – Monday, 21st April 2025 
  • May Day – Monday, 5th May 2025 
  • June Bank Holiday – Monday, 2nd June 2025 
  • August Bank Holiday– Monday, 4th August 2025 
  • October Bank Holiday – Monday, 27th October 2025 
  • Christmas Day – Thursday, 25th December 2025 
  • Saint Stephen's Day – Friday, 26th December 2025 
Calendar showing how to maximise annual leave for Ireland

Exceptions & factors to consider 

Of course, this level of advanced planning doesn’t and can’t work for everyone, and there may be other people and factors to think about. If bank holidays are still working days for you, this strategy won’t be much help sadly as it assumes a ‘standard’ Monday to Friday work pattern.  

Parents are bound by those godforsaken school holidays – but helpfully, most of these dates coincide with school holidays, though maybe not exactly. For the non-parents, though, this can make holiday bookings around these times more expensive than other times of year when you can’t stack your leave. Students also have term times, as well as seasonal employment or address changes to work around. If you’re in a relationship and want to holiday with that person, you’ll have their leave calendar to consider too.  

Even so, there may still be opportunities to stack or plan your leave in ways that work for you and your lifestyle. The key is forward planning. Are there any annual closure dates? Any seasonal reductions in working days’? Look for opportunities to tag a bonus day off onto the start or end of booked time off, without using up leave allowance. 

But for all the DINKs and the ‘young, free and single’ out there, what’s stopping you? Get on the group chat, share these dates and start booking those long weekends away!

Fastest fingers first 

The key to unlocking this leave stacking magic is to act now. Anyone who gets a whiff of this will be wanting to get in on the action, so in this case the early bird catches the worm. We suggest getting your leave requests in now, then sharing this article with your mates (though perhaps not your colleagues… at least until your leave is approved!). So pull up that leave calendar and start requesting before these dates start vanishing.  

And who knows, if the demand for a 4-day week continues to increase, the next time we write this article the total number of days off might be looking even healthier – here’s hoping!  

Leave stacking – it’s not magic, but it feels like it. 

Phil

Author

Our co-founder, Phil, loves people, problem-solving and making life easier for small businesses. If you book a Leave Dates demo, he will give you a warm welcome and show you everything that you need to know.