Each year the UK plays host to a number of weird and wonderful events. Crowds gather in their thousands to witness unique spectacles, which celebrate unusual traditions and customs. Whether you choose to participate or prefer to stand on the side lines and watch from afar, these unusual UK festivals are not to be missed.
Here’s our pick of weird and wonderful events taking places near Best of British parks in 2020.
Hurling the Silver Ball
St Columb Major, Cornwall
25th February 2020
Hurling the Silver Ball is a unique Cornish tradition, which takes places in St Columb Major near Newquay. Every year hordes of locals gather in the Market Square on Shrove Tuesday to take part in this ancient custom. Two groups of local men compete for possession of a small silver ball, which is thrown and carried through the town. ‘Townsmen’ and ‘Countrymen’ compete to cross the parish boundary or score an ‘own goal’. Touching the ball is believed to bring good luck and fertility.
Closest BoB Parks: Polmanter Touring Park
UK Wife Carrying Race
29th February 2020
Wife carrying is a unique sport, which is believed to have originated in the UK over 12 centuries ago. During the race competitors are challenged to carry their ‘wife’ along a 380m course, which is littered with obstacles and hills to navigate. Spectators are encouraged to bring water pistols and buckets of water to soak the couples as they enter the ‘splash zone’. Winners receive a pound of sausages for strength whilst losers are awarded a pot noodle and dog food!
Cooper’s Hill, Gloucester
25th May 2020
Picture credit: Mike Warren, Flickr
Cheese rolling at Coopers Hill in Gloucester is a historic tradition, which dates back to the 1800’s. The race was officially cancelled in 2010 on health and safety grounds, however it continues to be organised by a group of dedicated locals. There are a number of races that take part throughout the day, which see groups of men, women and children race down an incredibly steep hill in pursuit of a round of double Gloucester cheese, which is thought to reach speeds up to 70mph. The cheese is presented to the first person to reach the finish line at the bottom of the hill.
Oby Oss Festival
1st May 2020
The Oby Oss Festival in Padstow has pagan origins and is thought to celebrate the approach of summer. On May day the town is dressed with flags and flowers and spectators line the streets to celebrate Cornish folklore. Two groups dressed in masks to resemble a horse dance through the streets, lead by a ‘teaser’ who helps entertain and engage the crowd. The dancing continues late into the night accompanied by drums, accordions and singing.
World Egg Throwing Championships
28th June 2020
The World Egg Throwing Championships is a fun family that takes place in Lincolnshire each year. The annual events takes place during the popular Swaton Vintage Day and attracts competitors from around the world. Teams of two compete for the coveted title by throwing and catching an egg without breaking it across gradually increasing distances.
World Toe Wrestling Championships
The annual Toe Wrestling Championship is one of the UK’s strangest festivals. Participants compete in a number of rounds in which they lock big toes with their opponent and attempt to wrestle their foot to the opposite site. This event is not for the faint hearted with some competitors breaking toes in their bid to be crowned champion!
World Nettle Eating Championships
Like all good stories the World Nettle Eating Championships started in a pub as a bid to settle a bet amongst friends. In the years that have followed the event has grown in popularity and continues draw crowds of spectators each year. To be crowned as champion competitors are required to eat as many stinging nettles as possible in an hour.
World Snail Racing Championships
19th July 2020
More than 200 snails are entered into the World Snail Racing Championships each year. The snails races to cross the finish line on a damp cloth to the cheers of onlookers, whoc have flocked to this event for the past 25 years! The winner gets a silver tankard stuffed with lettuce leaves
World Gravy Wrestling Championships
If you’re feeling energetic and want to raise much needed funds for charity, why not consider entering the World Gravy Wrestling championships this year? The annual event takes place outside a Lancashire pub and attracts the worlds media each year. Competitors wrestle in a pool of Lancashire gravy in a bid to be crowned championship. Points are awarded for fancy dress, entertainment value and wrestling prowess. The local fire brigade are even on hand to help hose competitors down.
World Bog Snorkelling Championship
Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
30th August 2020
The World Bog Snorkelling Championship is a fun filled event that attracts adrenaline junkies to unassuming peat bog just outside of Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales each year. This unusual event has attracted international acclaim and has featured in Loney Planet’s ‘top 50 things to do around the world’. Entrants complete two lengths of an underwater swim in fancy dress in a bid to secure the fasted time.
Flaming Tar Barrels
Ottery St Mary, Devon
5th November 2020
Flaming Tar Barrels is a historic custom that takes place in the small village of Ottery St Mary each winter. Although the events exact origins remain unknown, many locals believe it first occurred in response to Guy Fawkes foiled gunpowder plot. Throughout the evening participants run through the streets carrying flaming barrels that have been soaked in tar. As the night progresses the barrels get increasingly larger, showing off the sheer strength of the people taking part. Interestingly, only locals are permitted to take part in this quirky event and there is a strict hierarchy that dictates which families are allowed to take part. There’s also a giant bonfire, which is ignited on the banks of the River Otter.