NB: This article has been updated for Summer 2018
This is the time of year when you start to hear about all the wacky and wonderful summer events in the UK. Bog snorkelling, lawn mower racing or gravy wrestling anyone? I love our nation’s dedication to all things eccentric and weird – some of these events are traditions that go back years, in some cases centuries. I have put together a list of my 12 favourites for this summer. In chronological order, here they are:
1 Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling
Coopers Hill, Gloucester
28th May 2018
Cheese rolling has been a tradition since the 1880’s – the official event was cancelled in 2010 due to health and safety concerns (there were a few too many people being carted off by St John’s Ambulance with broken and bruised bones) but people have still continued to descend on the site and create an ‘unofficial’ event. The cheese can’t actually be caught, the winner is the first person to cross the line at the bottom of the hill.
2 World Custard Pie Championship
Cox heath, Maidstone, Kent
2nd June 2018
Last year celebrated the 50th anniversary of the championship! Originally inspired by Charlie Chaplin, the competition has been going since 1967. Teams are made up of four people and points are scored depending on where you hit the member of the opposing team. What makes it all the more difficult is that you are only allowed to throw with your left hand…..
3 Knaresborough Bed Race
9th June 2018
The Knaresborough bed race is part fancy dress pageant, part gruelling time trial. The course is 2.4 miles long, with dramatic hills and views and includes a swim in the River Nidd. There are ninety teams of six runners and a passenger (on the bed) – the fastest team ever completed the challenging course in just 14 minutes.
4 World Egg Throwing Championships
24th June 2018
The main championships are thought to date back to 1322 when the Abbot of the parish was one of the few people in the village to own chickens. To encourage parishioners to attend church, he would give them an egg on their arrival. When the river flooded, preventing them from getting to church, it’s said that the monks would hurl eggs to the peasants across the river. The main championships consist of a two-person team – one a catcher and one a tosser. Other events on the day include russian egg roulette (6 eggs are thrown, only 1 is raw) and an under-13’s competition.
5 World Snail Racing Championships
21st July 2018
Snails race from the centre of a circle to the outside across a radius of 13 inches. All snails are numbered (usually by painting their shells) to save confusion over who’s snail belongs to who. The world record was set in 1995 by a snail named Archie who completed his 13-inches in 2 minutes. Giant foreign snails are not welcome – small english garden varieties only.
6 Hen Racing Championship
4th August 2018
Held at the Barley Mow pub in Bonsall, hens have 3 minutes to run the 15m track outside. Any hens that are fighting will be immediately separated and subsequently disqualified. The winner is the first chicken to cross the finishing line (or whichever is closest if none decide to actually finish). The day’s events also include chicken poo bingo, where you pick a square on the floor of a large cage and the first square that’s pooed in, wins.
7 International Bognor Birdman
Bognor Regis, Sussex
11th & 12th August 2018
The Bognor Birman is a competition for human powered flying machines. It was started back in 1971 by a gift shop owner from the nearby resort of Selsey and basically consists of who can fly the furthest off the end of Bognor pier. The popularity of the event soared in the 1980’s, with TV crews arriving and Birdmen and women from all over the world. The event was moved to Worthing for several years due to Bognor pier being deemed unsafe – but with a reconstructed pier, the competition returned to its roots and is now back in Bognor. The Bognor Birman has inspired many similar events worldwide.
8 The Annual Brambles Bank Cricket Match
The middle of the Solent
August 2018 (exact date TBC)
This quintessentially British cricket match is between the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Island Sailing Club and has been played in the same location since the 1950’s. The teams play at low-tide in the middle of the Solent, the stretch of water between the Isle of Wight and the south coast of England, wearing their full cricket whites. brambles-cricket.com
9 World Bog Snorkelling Championships
Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
26th August 2018
It is the 33rd year of the championships this year and it can bask in the glory of being described by the Lonely Planet as one of the top 50 must-do things from around the world in 2014. Competitors must make their way through two lengths of a 60-yard trench through peat bog, without using any conventional swimming strokes. The world record was set by Kirsty Johnson in 2014 who managed to complete the course in 1 minute, 22.56 seconds.
10 Annual Gravy Wrestling
27th August 2018
This year marks the 7th year of the gravy wrestling event. Competitors must wrestle in a pool full of Lancashire gravy (I presume at a nice pleasant lukewarm temperature) for two minutes. They are scored for audience applause and various different moves.
11 World Gurning Competition
15th September 2018
The competition is part of the Egremont crab fair which traces its history back to the 13th century. According to local history, the only years without a fair were during the world wars. The gurning competition is a far more recent addition to the line of events and is all about who can pull the most ridiculous face and have the support of the crowd.
12 Lawn Mower Racing World Championships
Bucks Green, Sussex
September 2018 (exact date TBC – heats take place throughout the summer at various locations)
The idea of lawn mower racing was conceived back in 1973 by an irishman named Jim Gavin. He wanted to create a form of motorsport that was accessible to everyone and whilst musing over this with his mates in the pub, he looked out over the village green to where the groundsman was mowing the lawn and the idea was born. The event has always attracted celebrity names and Stirling Moss has won both the Lawn Mower Racing Grand Prix and the annual 12-hour race.
Do you have a favourite weird and wacky event that you’ like to see included? Please let me know in he comments below, I’d love to hear about it!
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