Microsoft Outlook Holiday Issues

Last reviewed on September 2, 2014   —  2 comments

Microsoft Outlook 2010’s holiday file has some incorrect holidays listed, including incorrect dates for Easter Monday between 2013 and 2019. An updated holiday list is available from Outlook Tips.

Microsoft Outlook 2007’s holiday list included dates through 2012. To add current holidays to Outlook 2007, 2003, or 2002, users will need to download an updated holiday file. I have a HOL file for Outlook 2007, 2003, 2002 at Outlook Tips. Double click on the HOL file to open the Add Holidays dialog.

Additionally, Microsoft released an updated holiday list for Outlook 2007. This list is identical to the Outlook 2010 holidays (and to the Outlook-Tips file) and contains dates though 2020/2028. Unfortunatly, it does a version check and only works with Outlook 2007 SP2 or SP3. You can download the Microsoft installation file here. This update contains a HOL file identical to the HOL file available on Outlook Tips. The Outlook Tips file is also easier to use: download then double click on the HOL. You do not need to go into Calendar Options to open the Add Holidays dialog.

For more information and links to updated holiday lists for older versions of Outlook, see Missing Holidays on our Outlook-Tips website.

Adding Holidays to Outlook

Microsoft Outlook has a built-in feature to add holidays from different countries and religions to your default Calendar folder. You can add holidays to your Calendar folder by following these steps:

  1. Choose File | Options | Calendar if using Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013; Choose Tools | Options if using Outlook 2007 and older, then click Calendar Options.
  2. On the Calendar Options dialog box, click Add Holidays.
  3. In the Add Holidays to Calendar dialog box, check the countries or religions whose holidays you want to add, then click OK.

For Outlook 2000 and earlier versions, the list of holidays is stored in a text file named Outlook.txt, found in the language specific subfolders of the Office folder. Starting with Outlook 2002, the file is named Outlook.hol. If you are setting up a company-wide deployment of Outlook, you may want to edit this file in Notepad to add your own holidays, remove lists that you don’t want users to import, or correct dates that Microsoft got wrong.

Unfortunately, this technique for importing Outlook.txt and Outlook.hol files has many limitations:

  • Microsoft sometimes gets the dates wrong. See Known Errors.
  • It doesn’t create recurring items for holidays that occur on the same date every year. Instead, the user gets a single one-time event for each imported holiday.
  • Each version of Outlook has had its own holiday list. Outlook 2000 shipped with holidays through 2002. The Outlook.hol file for Outlook 2002 includes holidays through 2005.
  • You can add holidays only to your default Calendar folder, not to a public folder or non-default calendar. You’ll need to drag the holidays from your default calendar to non-default calendars.
  • Outlook does not check to see whether you have already added holidays for a particular country or religion. This means that you may wind up with multiple copies of some holidays. See Removing Duplicate Holidays for the method you can use to delete the duplicates.

Below you’ll find suggested workarounds for these and other holiday-related issues.

Additional Holiday Lists | Distributing Company Holidays | Importing to Public Folder
Removing Duplicate Holidays | More Information

Additional Holiday Lists

If you have Outlook 2007 or an earlier version, you’ll need to import new holidays later years. You can either get a replacement for the Outlook.txt/Outlook.hol file or import from various additional sources of dates.

Updated Outlook.txt/Outlook.hol files:

For other sources of dates you can add to Outlook, see Calendar Tools for Microsoft Outlook – Dates.

Distributing Company Holidays

The Transmit Holidays Form is a custom Outlook form that creates a special mail message containing appointment details from a folder that you specify. When the user receives the message, they can click a button to add all the appointments — holidays, company meetings, etc. — to their Calendar folder.

Another method, if you have all Outlook 2002 users, is to construct an iCalendar file containing multiple appointments. This technique can handle both recurring and nonrecurring items. See Adding Holidays to the Outlook Calendar for details.

A third method: make your own holiday files (*.HOL) using nothing more than Notepad. One benefit to distributing holidays in a HOL file is that users can simply double click on the HOL file to open the Add Holidays file and add them to Outlook.

When you create a HOL file, you need line above the dates containing the “location” and the number of items in the “location” group, in [location] 366 format. (The location name can be anything you like.) The dates are entered one per line in Subject,yyyy/mm/dd format.

Importing to Public Folder

You cannot add holidays directly to a public folder. Instead, add them to your default Calendar folder either by using the Add Holidays method or by importing from a file with the Import and Export Wizard. Then, move or copy the new holiday items to your public folder. The article To remove duplicate holidays from the Calendar folder in Microsoft Outlook describes how to distinguish the newly added items.

Removing Duplicate Holidays

While you can easily remove duplicated holidays without the use of a 3rd party tool, the following tools can be helpful if you have additional duplicated calendar items.

Duplicate Removal Tools are listed at Duplicate Remover Tools for Outlook’s Calendar

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

2 responses to “Microsoft Outlook Holiday Issues”

  1. Marcus

    Great post but how do I turn on the Holiday feature for all users? I have been directed to make this happen behind the scenes and have yet to find a GPO or REG key to do it. Guess I need to bust out the VBS skills.

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