The Best of Britain's Weird and Wacky Folk Traditions (part l)
Unique and Wild Festivals and Events
By Ferne Arfin, About.com Guide
Photo courtesy of Gloucestershire Tourism
Spain may have the running of the bulls in Pamplona, but in England the daredevil event of the year is the annual wacky race, the Cheese-Rolling on Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire. Once a year, as they have done for hundreds of years, young men and women hurl themselves down a hill so steep that it is impossible to remain standing, in pursuit of a seven or eight pound wheel of locally made Double Gloucester cheese. In this wacky race, there is no way participants can come down Cooper's Hill on their feet. Spectators who get too close to the edge have been known to tumble over and join the race involuntarily.
Photo courtesy of Britain on View
May is probably the sexiest month of the year in Britain. Before May Day became entangled with international Left Wing politics, it was associated, throughout England, with all things fertile, green and juicy. In the smaller villages of England, especially those of the south and southwest, it's still a time for letting one's hair down and celebrating the most primal forces of life. The month kicks off at dawn on May 1 in Cerne Abbas, a small village north of Dorchester in Dorset, when the Wessex Morris Men, along with various new agers, neopagans and other mystical types dance on the Cerne Abbas Giant
, the UK's most suggestive landmark.
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Combine the primitive impulse to light up the long nights, the ancient idea that fire purifies and chases away evil spirits and the natural Scottish impulse to party to the wee small hours and you end up with some of the best mid-winter celebrations in Europe. At one time, most Scottish towns celebrated the New Year with huge bonfires and torchlight processions. Most have now disappeared, but those that are left are real humdingers.
After the Winter Solstice - the longest night of the year - the days begin to get longer at last. Brighton celebrates the lengthening days with its own local twist on a typical Northern fire festival - The Burning of the Clocks. The event includes a themed parade with as many as 1,000 participants (The 2007 theme - The Tower of Babel), followed by the burning of paper and willow lanterns on the beach and a fireworks parade.
on Oct. 26, 2011 at 6:24 AM