The UK is famous for its history and amazing castles, but did you know that Great Britain is also home to the most peculiar annual events? It doesn’t matter if you just relocated to London or came here as a tourist, you need to make time to see or better participate in at least one of these celebrations.
Everybody who has lived in Britain for more than a year knows that on the night of the 5th of November, people celebrate Bonfire Night. Usually, the sky is illuminated with beautiful fireworks and people party till dawn. In one place in the UK, the celebrations take a whole new twist. We are talking about the tar barrel racing held in the village of Ottery St. Mary in Devon. On bonfire night the bravest lit on fire barrels filled with tar hoists them on their shoulders and race like this through the village streets. Be careful while attending this extraordinary race, it is not completely safe and if you don’t like crowds maybe this is not the place for you.
Hands down one of the most peculiar sporting events in the UK are bog snorkelling. Essentially it is swimming in a dirty water-filled trench cut through a peat bog. All competitors must wear flippers and snorkels and can’t swim in any of the well-known swimming styles. They must use only their flippers. The complete length of the trench is 55 metres and must be swimming in both directions. This unusual activity was first held in 1976 near Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, United Kingdom. Rumours have it that all began as a result of a bar-bet between Gordon Green and a few regulars.
Nobody knows from where exactly came the tradition to roll down a hill a nearly 5-kilogram cheese but this is one of the biggest international events held in the UK. Every year hundreds of people gather at Cooper’s Hill, near Gloucester in England. The rules are simple the cheese is sent rolling down the hill and the first person who gets it wins. You must be careful, the cheese can reach the dangerous speed of almost a hundred kilometres per hour and can seriously hurt someone. If you and your family are free during the Spring Bank Holiday, pack your bags and go participate in this fascinating tradition.
High Wycombe is a town in Buckinghamshire, a couple of hours from London and it has the unusual tradition to weigh its mayor alongside his officials and councillors, every year. This strange tradition is held in the month of May in front of a big crowd of eager spectators. The idea is that if anybody had received bribes or used the taxpayers money for their own gain, they should have gained weight. The weight of each person is publicly announced by the town crier. Nowadays it is just a fun spectacle to watch but back in the day people were far more serious. They were even allowed to throw rotten fruit and eggs at the mayor and his subordinates. Now that is something you won’t see in any other country in the world.
One of the oldest traditions in London takes place on Christmas morning. At 9 AM be brave people from the Serpentine Swimming Club get ready to take a swim into the icy waters of Hyde Park’s lake. The winner will take home the prestigious Peter Pan Cup. Inaugurated in 1864, this peculiar 100-yard swimming race acquired its name in 1903 when J. M. Barrie, the creator of the beloved children’s hero, presented the winner’s cup. He served this role for the next almost thirty years.
Don’t get too excited unless you are a member of the swimming club you won’t be allowed to take part in the race. Thankfully it is free to watch. So here is one more good reason to make sure you have finished with your house moving duties before Christmas Day.
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