Do you class yourself as an adventurer? If so, then now is the time to consider a trip to Britain to explore the strange celebrations that take place across the islands. Best known for scenery and traditions, you can find all this and more from your base at one of the many country cottages in the UK.
While many people take the time to enjoy beer, music and fine art festivals, not as many consider the chance to see people chasing cheese down a hill or a coal carrying competition – you can, if you head to Britain. On the continent you have the baby jumping festival in Spain, orange throwing in Italy and a spiritual horse race in Sardinia but here we look at the United Kingdom’s offerings.
Up Helly Aa
Up off the coast of Scotland, on the most Northern authority in the United Kingdom, this Viking festival on the Shetlands Islands is about as unique and obscure as you can get. Known as ‘Europe’s Largest Fire Festival’ and taking place on the last Tuesday of every January, there are visitations and marches before a procession. Dancing and performances are a given after you’ve seen a galley go up in smoke in a tradition that has been going since the 1880s.
Coal Carrying Championship
Moving south of the border and into England, you can find cottages to rent in Yorkshire and enjoy some of the unusual traditions that the region is known for – one of them being coal carrying. Starting back in 1963, competitors race the 1,108.25-yard course after saddling up coal weighing 50 kilos on their back. With a record of four minutes and six seconds, there must be some serious training going into it and there is plenty of hype and coverage surrounding it. While it might not be the Wife Carrying World Championships that Finland boasts, it is a unique experience of a most unusual festival.
World Toe Wrestling Championships
Nothing quite like using body parts, but unlike the Montana testicle festival this is a family friendly competition. It is as simple as it sounds; the opponents interlock toes and wrestle until one foot touches the frame. With all proceeds going to charity, the Championships have been around since the 1970s and is a popular event among the locals.
Bog Snorkelling Championships
Taking place in Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales, competitors come to see who can snorkel through 60 feet of bog quickest. With many people coming in fancy dress, more than 100 people take part each year. Since being founded in 1985, it has grown in popularity year on year and all proceeds go to charity after the event – which is held on August Bank Holiday. The current world record was broken last year with Andrew Holmes winning with a time of one minute and 24 seconds.
So there you have it, four of the best unusual Championships for you to enjoy when heading to Britain. This is forgetting the world famous cheese rolling competition in Gloucestershire, the nettle eating competition in Dorset and the International Bognor Birdman. So, forget near death experience festivals in Spain and fish-swallowing festivals in Belgium and get your fill of adventure in the United Kingdom.
Photo by brockvicky