Milestone birthdays are occasions the British love to celebrate. We Brits love an opportunity to party, and landmark birthdays give us the perfect excuse to splash out and make the most of a special occasion.


Many birthdays are symbolic. At 18 you’re officially an adult and can buy alcohol in pubs. At 21 you’ve come of age. Birthdays with a zero at the end mark the passing of another decade, and by the time you reach 60, you are celebrating life’s achievements and looking forward to retirement. Get to 100 and you even receive a birthday card from the Queen.

Here’s how the British love to celebrate landmark birthdays.

1st birthday

This is all about the proud parents. Let’s face it, your 1-year-old won’t remember a thing! Some proud parents like to combine their child’s 1st birthday with a naming ceremony, and make it a more formal celebration. Others prefer a low-key celebration marking the fact that they’ve survived the first 365 days of parenting.

If you’re new parents still in shock from the sleepless nights, endless nappies and overwhelming responsibility, a gathering with close friends and family at home is probably as much as you can muster.

Whether the 1st birthday celebration is ostentatious or laid back, the biggest must-have is always cake! And the 1st birthday cake isn’t complete without a candle, and the obligatory ‘happy birthday to you’ singalong (followed by coos of ‘oh so cute’).

18th birthday

At 18 you can officially drink at the pub, so the 18th birthday celebration absolutely has to include a pub-crawl with your mates. The 18th birthday night out on the town generally involves a string of pubs or bars, a nightclub, a kebab and of course the obligatory hangover. Pub-crawl drinking games at the 18th birthday celebrations are most definitely a rite of passage!

21st birthday

Forget the shenanigans of the 18th birthday celebrations. Twenty-one is the real coming of age, and generally involves a much more sophisticated event than the drunken escapades of the 18th birthday.

The 21st birthday celebration is the perfect time to bring friends and family together. Whether you choose to celebrate with canapés and champagne at a posh hotel, or opt for a sophisticated dinner at a fancy restaurant, it’s definitely the time to show off to everyone that you’ve blossomed into a responsible adult.

30th birthday

It’s sabbatical time. Pack up your things and spend 6 months travelling wherever your mood takes you. This is an especially important last irresponsible fling for those about to settle down and start a family. It’s often seen as the milestone birthday marking the last chance for travelling adventures, before life gets serious.

40th birthday

This is a big milestone, which absolutely deserves the ultimate luxury party. Forty is the new thirty, and a fabulous 40th birthday party needs to show everyone just how far you’ve come, while at the same time give off the vibe that you’ve only really just got started. You’ve found your niche in life, you’re good at it, but you’re not afraid of taking on new challenges, and boy can you throw a great party.

50th birthday

There’s something about 50 that says try something new. Only a decade or two away from retirement means you may have some serious catching up to do if you’ve led a sheltered life so far. Now is definitely the time to get out your bucket list and take action. Rack up the experience days if you’re an adrenalin junky, take up a new hobby, or visit a far-flung destination where you’ve always dreamed of taking in the sights.

60th birthday

We spend our whole lives wondering why on earth anyone would choose to go on a cruise. Then we hit 60 and the cruise doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. In fact, going on a cruise is a brilliant idea. Add all the extras like a special welcome aboard package, champagne breakfast, and dinner at the captain’s table and you’ll wonder why you haven’t been on a cruise before.

70th, 80th or 90th birthday

When we retire from work and slow down, we realise just how important family is to us. A posh afternoon tea with the whole family couldn’t be a more lovely way to celebrate reaching any of the decade milestones during retirement. Imagine grandchildren running around with jammy hands and relatives from afar enjoying a jolly good catch-up. Simple things can mean so much.

100th birthday

Wow, you made it to 100! Now you can get a birthday card from the Queen! Your family will visit, take you out, and you’ll get lots of hugs from the great-grandchildren. Spend the day passing on your important family stories to the youngsters, and soaking up just how much your family love you.

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