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2014 Calendar of Unusual Customs

Many years ago, years were marked out with special days which celebrated the passing year. These were days of merriments where people would do, eat and make things which they would not normally do.

The UK holds many quaint villages and towns with such traditions. Cheese rolling, Nettle Eating, Toe Wrestling, Bog Snorkelling are just a few of the strange, bizarre, wacky, eccentric festivals still taking place in Britain today. Here at Les Routiers, we will guide you through some of the upcoming events that you and the whole family can get involved to carry on with these quirky customs.

Cheese Rolling, Gloucestershire

Forget the cheese platter, because this event is the epitome of strange. Whether you are a cheese lover, merely appreciate a good cheddar, or you are looking for a fun day out then Cheese rolling is one of those events that can’t be missed. This cheesy occasion comes first in the top 10 weird and wonderful experiences in the UK.

lincolnshire-poacher-cheese-3517_640Witness hordes of up to 5,000 people tumble down Cooper’s Hill chasing a 9lb Double Gloucester Cheese. Allegedly a 200-year-old tradition, the annual Cheese-Rolling festival in Gloucestershire, England, involved tossing a round of Double Gloucester Cheese down a very steep hill and flinging oneself after it. The first person to tumble across the finish line wins the big cheese. This annual event takes place in Gloucestershire, on MAY 26th and is free to watch.

Whilst in Gloucester why not stay at a Les Routiers Gold Award Winning establishment The Beckford Inn & Restaurant, close to Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, is a stunning 18th century former coaching inn that sits in open countryside on the northern edge of the Cotswolds.

There is far more on offer here than in a typical inn – the old Cotswold stone building resembles a country manor house yet is a traditional country pub bar with a roaring fire and real ales where you can relax or dine. But there is also a luxurious restaurant with leather chairs and real oak tables, and accommodation in their tastefully decorated bedrooms.

A great place to dine with a sensibly priced, quality British-inspired menu is produced by talented Chefs using only the finest, freshest local produce. The wine list is extensive and there is always a great choice of real ales, plus the service is the warmest you will find in the Cotswolds. This all makes The Beckford Inn & Restaurant the perfect destination for any traveller to Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds.

Midsummer’s Day, Cornwall

The Midsummer is a celebration of the longest day of summer, rooted in ancient Midsummer traditions, surrounded by mythical tales of fairies and supernatural visitors. You instantly think of Shakespeare’s beloved “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, curiosity about Pagan visits to Stonehenge, bonfires, and the power of the sun. But where did all the mystery begin, what is Midsummer today?  The middle of summer comes after the longest day and it is a time associated with witches, magic, fairies and dancing.  Creating a Bonfire on the eve of Midsummer’s Day, was a symbol to praise the sun, as the days were getting shorter, the sun appeared to be getting weaker, so people would light fires to try and strengthen the sun.

Practice of this ancient ritual, which also includes a Summer Solstice Circle Dance, is now mainly confined to Cornwall, the West Country, and London’s Hampstead Heath.

Midsummer’s Eve was celebrated with bonfires, all-night vigils to provide light and to ward off evil spirits. The festivities included dancing, feasting, and of course, a good old fashioned drink. Around this time, the deeply superstitious also believed that ghosts could pass from the afterlife into the present world on this night. Other people participated in rituals, encouraging the most athletic revellers to leap over high-burning fires. Supposedly, the highest jump of the evening predicted the height of crops for the new harvest season. The first fire is lit at Chapel Carn Brea near Lands’ End followed by the fire on the next hill near Madron. Each fire would be lit only after the previous fire had been sighted, until there were bonfires all the way up to the border with England. The Cornish bonfire is held on the 23rd June, it’s a lovely tradition, an evening filled with lots of festivities and high spirits all sharing the joy to fellow revellers.

Sandwich Festival – August Bank Holiday

Live riverside music, stalls, vintage cars, bikes, food, even a chess tournament! That’s what is in store for you if you visit Sandwich over the August bank holiday. The August Bank Holiday sees the annual festival, with a full programme of events both indoors and outdoors. Some annual favourites such as the motor cycle meet, barn dance, duck race continue and go from strength to strength. With its ancient buildings, nature reserves, golf courses, delightful country pubs, cafes and restaurants, the medieval Cinque Port of Sandwich is a must to visit for the discerning tourist. Enjoy the small picturesque villages, such as Eastry, Ash, Worth and Woodnesborough, they are all within an easy traveling distance with the nearby towns of Canterbury and the Port of Dover.


World nettle eating championships

It’s probably one of Dorset’s most unusual events, but competitors come from all over the world to part take in this stingy affair. Welcome to the World Nettle Eating Championships – one hour of eating as many stinging nettles as your stomach can bare! Put on as part of a charity beer festival at the Bottle Inn in the village of Marshwood near Crewkerne, the event attracts entrants from around the world. As the competition’s fame has spread, nettle eaters from as far as New York, Australia, Northern Ireland and Belgium make the trip to West Dorset. As the huge bunches of stinging nettles arrive, the competitors face one hour of munching their way through the leaves, the winner is whoever finishes with the most two foot stalks, stripped of their leaves.


May 23, 2014 | Les Routiers UK

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