Everyone knows that us Brits are charmingly eccentric and our traditional events are no different. Yes, we have all the regular festivals that you might expect, but there are a few that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

World Pooh Sticks Championships
Does anyone else in the world have pooh sticks? Readers of a certain age will have find memories of playing pooh sticks in the woods and it isn’t as bad as it sounds. The concept of pooh sticks simply involves dropping sticks off a bridge into flowing water and watching them from the other side. Because it is such a huge part of British childhoods, there is a World Pooh Sticks Championships in Oxfordshire that takes place on the last Sunday in March.

Obby Oss Festival
Once you know this event takes places in Padstow, Cornwall, it might make more sense to you. Obby Oss to everyone else is Hobby Horse and the traditional obby oss day takes place every year on May Day and dates back to the Celtic festival of Beltane. The town is decorated with flowers and other plants and a maypole is erected for dancers. Two groups of dancers make their way through the town trying to catch young maidens while dressed as a horse.

Worthing Birdman
A birdman competition is where participants attempt to create their own flying machines and then launch themselves into the air. In Worthing, they hold an international festival where those taking part launch themselves off of a ramp on the town’s pier. It has taken place since the 1970s.

Cheese Rolling
This one has been under threat from the health and safety officials for some time, but basically a group of people race a large cheese down a very steep hill in Gloucestershire. The winner is the first to reach the bottom.

Tar Barrel Rolling
While it might have a similar name and similar health and safety concerns, Tar Barrel Rolling is something entirely different. In a small village in Devon, this event has been taking place since at least the 17th century and involves residents running around the centre of the village while carrying burning tar barrels. The event results in a torchlit procession and a giant firework display and was likely inspired by the gun powder plot.

Up Helly AA
This viking themed festival takes place on the last Tuesday in January annually in Shetland. It remains one of Europe’s largest fire festivals and appears to have originated in the 1800s. The day of the festival involves torch lit processions that culminate in the burning of a viking longship.

Find more heritage things to do here.




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