Weirder and wonderful festivals of the UK

The UK has a well deserved reputation for throwing some of the finest festivals; from the infamous Glastonbury, to the Secret Garden Party, the countryside hosts wild parties, sound systems, performances and much more. But there is another side to British festivals, more along the lines of fire, cheese and sheep...

Weirder and wonderful festivals of the UK

The UK is known for its vibrant cities, beautiful countryside and rich history. It’s a great place to visit with so much to see and do. But if you’re looking for a story to tell, we suggest heading to one of the strange festivals on offer.

Whilst the country is well-known for infamous music festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, the UK is also home to other celebrations you won’t find elsewhere. Here are five of our favourites:

The Royal Shrovetide Football at Ashbourne by Will De Freitas

The Royal Shrovetide Football at Ashbourne by Will De Freitas

Royal Shrovetide Football, Ashbourne, Derbyshire
In what is essentially a giant game of football, every year the people of Ashbourne use their entire town as a pitch and divide into teams of over 100 players. It can last up to eight hours and the rules are a bit different to traditional football. Goals can only be scored by predetermined players and, more often than not, balls are lifted from the floor and thrown around.

Known locally as hugball, the event takes place on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. One to add to the calendar.

Bognor Birdman, Bognor Regis, Sussex (main image)

In this crazy competition, willing participants jump off the pier in homemade flying machines to see who can go the furthest. It’s an annual festival full of silly fun – expect over-the-top costumes and a lot of laughter. But you can see why people try to win – there’s a prize of £30,000 for the furthest flight over 100 metres.

Cheese Rolling - G-String Runner by Will De Freitas

Cheese Rolling – G-String Runner by Will De Freitas

Cheese Rolling, Coopers Hill, Gloucestershire

Of course you can come to the UK and try great cheeses – but you could also chase a huge bit of cheese down a hill – a 9lb Double Gloucester cheese, to be precise. It’s given a one second head start on the runners and can reach speeds of over 70 miles an hour. Every year, enthusiastic cheese-chasers suffer sprains and fractures to try and catch the cheese. But because so few do, the winner is the first person to reach the bottom of the hill.

Fireball Whirling, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Whilst New Year’s Eve celebrations can get a bit wild all over the UK, the town of Stonehaven has a particularly impressive ritual. Just before midnight on the last day of every year, around 30 residents put on a fire display. Alongside a band of bagpipers, they twirl balls of fire around their heads.

Although crowds are now kept well back, the fireballs – made from coal, wood and fir cones – are big enough that bystanders used to have to duck and dodge the flames. At the end of the show, the fireballs are thrown into the sea and everyone rushes from house to house for plenty of whisky.

Sheep in Skipton, Yorkshire by Helen Olney

Sheep in Skipton, Yorkshire by Helen Olney

Skipton Sheep Day, Skipton, Yorkshire

In a tribute to the town’s farming heritage, sheep and lambs are given run of the town’s high street. Alongside entertainment like sheepdog duck-herding and cow-milking demonstrations, it’s a great family day out with a true British feel.

If you’re an animal lover, you won’t be short of things to do. Animal-based attractions are in abundance and include a petting zoo, rare breed sheep displays and birds of prey.

Main image: White Angel Birdman ready steady – Birdman of Bognor by somewhereintheworldtoday/



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