Weird and Wonderful Events From Across the UK

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From Viking-inspired fire festivals to events that see competitors chucking themselves down a hill after a wheel of cheese, the UK is home to some bonkers events. These are some of its very finest.

World Bog Snorkelling Championships

When: The August bank holiday weekend
Where: Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
What: A 60-metre snorkel sprint through a peat bog. There are several races, one for those motivated by being the fastest, and a fancy dress version for those who like to add a little challenge to the event. In the past, contenders have attempted to swim dressed as pantomime horses, lobsters and bumblebees.
Can anyone take part? Yes! You can enter online up to seven days before the event here. Alternatively, you can just rock up on the day and enter in person.

Cheese Rolling

When: The late May bank holiday
Where: Cooper’s Hill, Brockworth, Gloucestershire
What: A nine-pound round of Double Gloucester cheese is dropped down an incredibly steep hill and competitors chase it down said hill. The winner is the first to reach the bottom of the hill. Win the race and you win the cheese: it’s that simple.
Can anyone take part? They can indeed. All you need to do is be at the top of the hill before the start time (with the race usually starting at noon). However, it’s important to note that injuries are incredibly common so you need to be sure that you really do want that cheese.


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Up Helly Aa

When: The last Tuesday in January
Where: Lerwick, Shetland
What: A community-led fire festival to mark the end of the Yule season, and give a nod to Shetland’s Viking past. These events take place across Shetland, but the biggest takes part in the capital, Lerwick. The celebrations centre around the guizer Jarl’s (an elected lead to the main group, who all dress as Vikings throughout) squad who not only organise and create much of the events, but also lead them. The morning begins with this group’s procession through Lerwick, followed by a pipe band. Following this procession, the squads visit a number of halls for live performances, re-enactments and general revelry. The celebrations finish with a huge torchlit procession, culminating in the burning of a Viking ship that has been painstakingly built specifically for the occasion.
Can anyone take part? To some of the celebrations. Both the morning and evening processions are open to the public, and are also streamed online. However, the majority of the events in the halls are invitation only, to uphold and celebrate the sense of community.

Burning the Clocks

When: The winter solstice
Where: Brighton
What: This celebration of the shortest day of the year sees visitors and locals alike making paper and willow lanterns, before parading them from Brighton Pavilion to Kemptown Beach. The parade is accompanied by samba bands, creating an atmosphere of jubilation. Upon arrival at the beach, the lanterns are placed on a huge bonfire and set ablaze together, lighting the night sky. Each year, there’s a different theme and the lanterns made to reflect that theme.
Can anyone take part? Yes, but the lantern-making kits are only available from local retailers so you’ll need to do some prior planning. You can find out more here.


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World Pooh Sticks Championships

When: The late May bank holiday weekend
Where: Sandford Lock, Oxford
What: As children, most of us will have thrown sticks off a bridge with our family members before running to the other side to see whose twig rushes out first. This game, as made famous in the Winnie the Pooh books by AA Milne, has its own championships held at Oxford’s Sandford Lock.
Can anyone take part? Yes. Most contestants are children, but all are welcomed to join. There’s a £4 entry fee with the proceeds going to a local charity each year. You can find out more here.