The 10 Most Eccentric Festivals in Britain and Ireland
They say there's nothing as odd as people. If the extraordinary variety of truly bizarre, eccentric festivals that takes place all over Britain is any indication, we have some very odd people here. But don't take our word for it. Famed author and cryptozoologist Dr. Karl Shuker has picked out ten examples. Judge for yourself!
Fancy using a stick to throw a dishcloth soaked in stale beer at friends standing in a circle? Then dwyle flunking is definitely for you. But be prepared to have the beer-soaked dishcloth thrown back at you! This quaint festival occurs annually on 29 August at the Lewes Arms pub in Lewes, Essex.
2. Worm Charming
The otherwise odd combination of worms and cider come together famously each year on 2 May in Blackawton, Devon, at the International Festival of Worm Charming. Large amounts of cider are used at the global gathering that includes brightly dressed charmers who use secret prayers to lure earthworms out of the ground.
On Wakes Monday (the first Monday after 4 September), the village of Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire hosts the annual Horn Dance, dating back to 1226. Six men wearing horns — actually reindeer antlers — dance along a 16-kilometre course around the village, visiting 12 different locations, accompanied by four other characters plus a musician playing traditional folk songs.
Each Summer, Bank Holiday Monday (the last Monday in August), the Waen Rhydd peat bog near Llanwrtyd Wells in Powys, mid-Wales, hosts the annual Bog Snorkelling Championships. People dress in obligatory "smart" attire (no jeans allowed) and sometimes in fancy attire, including snorkel and flippers. Presumably sane people compete to see who can swim two lengths of this murky morass in the fastest time. No one knows why.
Each January, Plough Monday (the first Monday after Twelfth Night) sees the Straw Bear Festival held in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire. As its name suggests, a man dressed as a bear made of straw parades and dances around the town's streets. He is accompanied by a child dressed as a straw bear cub — and that's about it really. Offbeat but entertaining.
6. Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race
Each year in early June, a fleet of boats designed as giant Yorkshire puddings covered in flour and eggs sets sail in a race across Bob’s Pond in Brawby, North Yorkshire. This unique festival was conceived in the 1990s by local artist Simon Thackray.
Every year, the North Yorkshire village of Kettlewell is taken over by about 100 life-sized scarecrows for one week. The slightly eerie, blank-faced stars of its annual celebration represent a different theme each year. Look out for the treasure trail, too.
8. Fireball Festival
Every year at midnight on New Year's Eve, up to 45 locals in the North Sea fishing port of Stonehaven, Scotland, celebrate Hogmanay. They swing flaming balls of fire, attached to wire handles, around their heads as they march along the town's high street to the harbour. Then, they throw their fireballs into the sea to the amazement of 12,000 spectators.
A tradition since the 1880s, this popular festival is held each year on the last Tuesday in January in Lerwick, Shetland. This event has something for everyone — tin kettles, gun firing, torch bearers, fiddling, drum banging, brawling and bawling. People dress as Vikings, and there's lots of drinking. No wonder the following Wednesday is a holiday here; the celebrants need to recover!
Every year in August, Killorglin in Ireland’s County Kerry is transformed for the Puck Fair. A group of locals set forth to capture a wild goat in MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. The goat is then crowned ‘Kind Punk’ by a schoolgirl playing the role of Queen of the Fair. For the rest of the three days, the town hosts numerous parades, street entertainment, concerts and livestock fairs.
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