The Eclectic Light Company

How to get more holidays in Calendar

Many of us need to know about public holidays in other regions and countries. If you do business with someone working to a German calendar, it’s essential to know that they’re unlikely to be in work on 21 May 2020, which is Ascension Day, whereas someone in the UK will be taking 25 May 2020 off for their Spring Bank Holiday. This article looks at how to get holidays right in the Calendar app, starting with your own.

1. Setting your Holiday Calendar

If you don’t already have your Holiday Calendar displayed, first ensure that your Mac is set to the correct region (country). Open the Language & Region pane, and in its General tab check its Region is correct. Whilst you’re here, if you intend adding any calendars which rely on another language – for instance, the Japanese calendar displays in Japanese – you’ll need to add those languages to the list of Preferred languages at the left, or you won’t be able to see them.

It’s also worth inspecting the Calendar options available here, which include a surprisingly wide range.

Then open the Calendar app, and open its Preferences. At the bottom of the General tool there are two options which you can enable, to show the Birthdays calendar, which is compiled from your Contacts and other sources, and the Holidays calendar, which is loaded from Apple’s servers. After a short pause, Calendar should add your country’s holiday calendar to the Other list.

2. Finding and installing another Holiday Calendar

Apple explains how you can view the Holiday calendar for another region (country) by temporarily changing the region set in the Language & Region pane, which is fine if all you want is a quick glance. What it doesn’t explain is how you can add another country’s calendar to those displayed in the Calendar app, which is actually quite simple.

To do this, you’ll need both the Language & Region pane and Calendar’s Preferences open at the same time, together with the main Calendar window. As an example, I’m going to add the US Holidays calendar so that I can see both UK and US holidays together.

In the Language & Region pane, change the Region to the country whose holidays you want to display, in this case the United States.

Switch to Calendar’s Preferences, and uncheck the Show Holidays calendar box. Then tick it again, close the Preferences window and wait for the main window to update with US Holidays shown.

With the US Holidays item selected in the window’s sidebar, bring up the contextual menu (Control-click, etc.), and in that select the Copy URL to Clipboard command.

Now use the New Calendar Subscription… command in Calendar’s File menu to add that Holiday calendar as a subscription. Paste the URL into the box when prompted to do so, give the new calendar a distinctive colour and check other details, then click OK. This will add US Holidays as a new subscription calendar to your main calendar list.

Switch back to the Language & Region pane and now correct the Region selected there to your normal country. Open Calendar’s Preferences, uncheck the Show Holidays calendar box, and tick it again. When it refreshes, you should see both your system Holidays calendar and your subscribed US Holidays calendar.

One slight disadvantage of doing this is that updates to macOS could in theory change the source for your primary Holiday calendar in order to update it. Those Holiday calendars which you have added yourself will still use their original address, and the only way to change that calendar is to alter the URL which it connects to, something you’re unlikely to do in the future unless that calendar stops working.

3. Using other calendar services

There are many third-party calendars available online, some free, and others paid by subscription. Downloadable calendars, which arrive in a single .ics file, are added simply using Calendar’s Import command in the File menu. Services are added using the same New Calendar Subscription… command in Calendar’s File menu.

Beware, though: calendars do change. If you rely on an old calendar to tell you when you should be on holiday, you could end up going into work when everyone else is enjoying a day off, or, even worse, not being in work when you’re expected to be. As for me, I think this year I’ll see how many different holiday calendars I can celebrate.

There’s a complete user guide to Calendar here, and this article explains about calendar subscriptions.