Summer Events in the UK – 12 Wacky and Wonderfully British Events To Go To This Summer

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:

cheese rolling
Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling

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
Knaresborough, Yorkshire
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.

bog snorkelling
World Bog Snorkelling Championships

4  World Egg Throwing Championships
Swaton, Lincolnshire
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
Congham, Norfolk
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.

custard pie championships
World Custard Pie Championships

6  Hen Racing Championship
Bonsall, Derbyshire
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.

Brambles Bank
Brambles Bank Cricket Match

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.

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.

gravy wrestling
Annual Gravy Wrestling Event

10  Annual Gravy Wrestling
Stacksteads, Lancashire
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
Egremont, Cumbria
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.

lawn mower racing
Lawn Mower Racing World Championships

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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Summer Events in the UK

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37 Replies to “Summer Events in the UK – 12 Wacky and Wonderfully British Events To Go To This Summer”

  1. what a fantastic site!!!
    You Brits are definitely nutty and fun. I’m now inspired to try and go to some of these when I’m over there next time. It seems like lots of them are in the summer.
    I especially like the Bed Race, the Cheese Rollling, the Bog Snorkeling and the Birdman contest. When I lived in Austin, there was a similar Birdman contest that was just great fun because the contestants put so much effort and time into their costumes and contraptions.
    The gravy wrestling just seems gross.
    Anyway, what a wonderful site. Great fun.Thanks for sharing those with us. Wouldn’t have known about any of them.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments 🙂 I found it a really fun post to write and it (strangely) made me proud of how nutty we are as a nation, haha! Yes, most of them are in the summer as they are all held outside and our winter weather is pretty diabolical. The ones you listed as your favourites are mine too! Nice to know the Birdman competition made its way to Austin 🙂

      Please let me know if you do plan to visit – I’d be happy to give you some more tips and recommendations! In fact, I’m planning to write a lot more posts on the UK so watch this space!


  2. These are so much fun! I remember stumbling upon a fancy dress raft race in North Cornwall, it was so funny, many of them sank trying to get over the breaking waves in the harbour, I particularly remember a group of men dressed as mermaids with long blonde wigs which must have been horrible to flounder about in the water with. Happy memories. I must look out and see if there are any weird events near me.

    1. Haha, that sounds great! It must have been hilarious to watch. Please let me know if you do find any more – I’d love to hear about them 🙂


  3. I’ll be traveling to Great Britain this summer, might just have to check out one of these wacky events. I have heard of some of those other events but snail racing? that’s got to be a new one Might be interesting to check that one out. Very interesting article of other not so touristy things to check out

  4. Being left handed I may have to enter the Custard Pie Championships!

    I’m sure there are many going on around the country, but we have the Windlesham Pram Race every year on Boxing Day. There is always a big turnout – Groups dress up and decorate a trolley / pram etc. then push it along a course, whilst stopping off at every pub en route for a drink!
    I doubt there’s anyone else in the world they do this – us weird Brits eh!


    1. Haha, you’d definitely have an advantage there!

      I love the sound of a pram race! Windlesham isn’t too far from me either so I may have to head down there this year….;-)

      Thanks for your comments!


  5. I’ve never heard of any of these events and I’ve been in the UK for 12 years. I’ve been looking for some interesting events to attend this summer and I might have just found a couple that sound really like a great fun. I’d love to do cheese rolling, it must be a blast. Or the custard pie competition sounds yummy. Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. Do let me know if you end up going to any of them Zuzana! I’d love to hear about your experience 🙂


  6. Hi Louise!

    The Cheese Rolling is very famous around the world, I’ve seen it several times on TV, it’s hilarious how people roll down the hill chasing the cheese LOL

    But the rest are crazier! The Egg Throwing and the Hen Race are my favourites!

    I’d definitely substitute the gravy in the Gravy Wrestle by oil and leave the actual gravy for the sunday roast! I love british food! 😉

    Thanks for this rush of british culture! 😉

  7. What an interesting read. They all sound like so much fun. We don’t have anything remotely close to that here in America. I guess I need to check out Berlin in the summer real soon.

    Thank you for sharing, I really like to see how the rest of the world lives.

    1. Hi Jada 🙂

      Did you mean Britain when you said Berlin? 😉 Yes, we are certainly a crazy nation! I’m glad you enjoyed my post.


    1. Hi Sam! I think some of them have actually made their way across to other countries but as far as I know they all originated in the UK….;-)

  8. This makes me nostalgic for the UK, we’re such a quirky bunch! This is a great collection of events and we’re definitely inspired to try and check some of these out when we get back 🙂

  9. A great article! I’ve lived in Britain my whole life and haven’t even heard of some of these quirky, wonderful events so definitely interesting reading about them! I think I’d probably be best at the bed race (but only if I was on the bed myself!!). Which is your favourite event?

  10. This is hilarious! Best competitions in the world! Give men a silly challenge and they will turn it into a competition! Very funny post. Would try the lawn mower competition and the custard pie for sure 😀

  11. This post is so much fun haha! Bed racing!! Reminds me of part of my University Initiation Week in first year. We had to race beds as well, using a boxspring plus whatever else we could find in the streets to make a chariot. Oh, engineering… I may just have to attend to watch the professionals

  12. This is such a great sounding list of places to go and explore in the UK, we really do some strange things here don’t we haha! I would love to see Cheese Rolling for myself.

  13. This is such a great sounding list of places to go and explore in the UK, we really do some strange things here don’t we haha! I would love to see Cheese Rolling for myself.

  14. I’ve never heard of any of these summer events… Haha, this is so much fun ! It would be really hilarious to watch a couple of these events 🙂 Would love to see the Bognor Birdman competition with the flying machines. The Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling looks so funny with the people roll down the hill chasing the cheese ! Thanks for sharing

  15. Hahahah I’d only heard of the cheese rolling event so far! What a great list of crazy things to do:) I’d love to be a passenger on the bed in the bed race, I think that’s the most relaxing one:P Have you been to any of these?

  16. I had never heard about any of those events before, they all seem like crazy event but perfect to have a really fun time ahah. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  17. It’s funny because living in the UK myself, I tend to forget that we have a number of events happening during the summer all over the place.

    I live right on the edge of the Peak District and there’s always some great events on during the summer. In fact, probably too many. The trouble is, it means I don’t get much chance to check out other UK events.

    But after learning about some crazy cool events, especially the cheese rolling, gravy wrestling (LOL), and lawn mower racing, I think I should start venturing away from my home for extra FUN!! 🙂


  18. There’s a lot of stuff in the UK that I wouldn’t see here in the United States, like a Snail Race Championship or Gravy Wrestling. You might see a Lawn Mower race at a county fair though. This is interesting to see all of these different activities over there. I’ll have to check some of them out when I’m there.

  19. I love hearing about the traditions of other countries. While we here in America share some of these competitions, like the lawnmower racing and food related wrestling. Some of the others are interesting and certainly worth of adding to the ole bucket list to attend or compete in. Have you attended these and which would you recommend as must do or see?

    1. Hi Corey,

      I’ve only seen the lawn mower racing which was fun! I’d love to go to the Bognor Birdman and the cheese rolling – I’m hoping to get to some more this summer! 🙂

  20. As I am an American Anglophile, I LOVED this post! What fun! Seems like most of our local, mid-west, USA celebrations are pretty boring by comparison.

    One thing tripped me up, though. #11 the World Gurning Competition. What is gurning? I looked up the word in my Oxford English Dictionary but the closest thing I could find was gurnard (some sort of sea fish). Is there any connection between these words, or is gurning just a made-up word?

    Having hens myself, I think the hen race would be pretty funny (or maddening). I can’t believe the the fastest time on the bed race. That team must have been really powerful!

    Most of all I enjoyed the history you gave about the events. The Egg Throwing Championship’s history was my favorite.

    Thanks very much for this peek at at your homeland. It has left me smiling.

  21. Thank you Louise for telling us about all these wacky events that are due to be held across the country. Some of them really made me laugh at the thought of them.

    The cheese rolling one is about the only one I had already heard of and I remember it being in the news that they had cancelled it for health and safety reasons.

    The egg throwing competition made me laugh the most, especially the russian egg roulette lol.

    As I stay in Scotland, it is not quite so easy to attend these events which is a shame as I would like to have been able to say I would go and watch some of them.

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