Okay, so we all know there is more to the UK than a range of “olde-world” castles, winding roads and and rolling hills! There is so much more to our great country than that…We have an array of other awesome traditions and places to see, with the likes of “Big Ben”, “Buckingham Palace” and even “Nandos” being just a few!
Okay, so Nandos is much less of a tradition and more of a place to eat some spicy chicken, but there are lots of uniquely British traditions that will pique any visitors curiosity! All across the year, we have an array of festivals, events and gatherings that mark particular points of history in the UK – Most will guarantee you an awesome time, while others are downright funny and bizarre!
1.) British Morris Dancing in Summer
The earliest records of Morris Dancing date back to the 15th Century where “peasants” would dance the evening away! With over 500 years of tradition, passed down through generations, Morris Dancers can usually be found at most Summer Fetes dressed and dancing to impress the crowds! If you ask nicely, they will even let you join in at certain points so you too can try the tradition!
2.) British Maypole Dancing On May Day
Predominant in Britain and other parts of Europe, the Maypole is a tall wooden poll that people traditionally dance around on May Day or Whitsun. The earliest records of Maypole dancing occurred in 14th Century Wales! Historians believe that people danced around the Maypole for a number of reasons. 1) To possibly promote fertility 2) To create a symbolic place where local villages (often feuding) could come together in peace, or, 3.) Due to the Pagan notion of the universe being related to a tree (which I had no idea)! Whatever the reason, it’s great fun…
…If you want to join in on the celebrations, head to any large city park, or village fete that will happen around Whitsun, you’re almost guaranteed to be dancing by the end of the day! So, grab your clogs…. what are you waiting for?
3.) English Cheese Rolling In Spring
Yup, as bizarre as it sounds! Cheese rolling is held every year at Coopers Hill in Gloucester, usually on the annual spring bank holiday – where thousands of people will literally roll and chase a 9lb barrel of Gloucestershire cheese down the hill! It is though that this festival comes from the Pagan celebrations for the end of winter, whereby barrels and burning bush would be rolled down the hill. Anyone can choose to take part… just be prepared to have a tumble!
4.) A British Bonfire Night In Winter
Bonfire Night is an event that is filled with fireworks, bonfires, sparklers and lots of toffee apples! Yum! Each year we celebrate the failed plot of Guy Fawkes in trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 17th Century London. He had filled the whole cellar with hundreds of barrels of gunpowder and was ready to ignite – thankfully his plan was foiled and the Houses of Parliament were saved! Now we celebrate by lighting the “gunpowder” (eg fireworks) and creating a big fire!
This is one of my favourite events in the UK. It’s held every year on November the 5th. Most villages, towns and cities will have a number of places to partake in “Bonfire Night”. You can even host your own too!
5.) Welsh Bog Snorkelling In Summer
From my home country of Wales, Bog Snorkelling has to be one of the strangest of our traditions Each year a competitive event, in Llanwrtyd Wells, is held where locals and visitors alike can be crowned a champion “bog snorkeller”! Usually, Bog Snorkelling happens in summer -just remember, if you want to take part make sure to pack a wet suit, the bogs are notoriously cold!
6.) Cornish Hurling in Winter
Played only in Cornwall and derived from the Celts, “Cornish Hurling” is a truly unique past-time! St. Ives in Cornwall hold an annual event on the first Sunday of February. Everybody and anyone can join in… in truth thousands attend to play! Whoever ends up with the silver ball at 12noon gets to go to the town mayor and receive their 5 shillings (olde’ money) reward!
7.) A Scottish Hogmanay In Winter
Celebrated each year on December 31st, Hogmanay is a Scottish tradition that has become famous around the world! Head to Cities like; Edinburgh, Glasgow or Aberdeen for some awesome celebrations. Expect lots of music, whiskey, street-parties and singing to “Auld Lang Syne” (a Scots poem by Robert Burns). Many Hogmanay events now charge an entry to partake in the festivals – if you are wanting to attend, don’t forget to book online!
8.) A Scottish Burns Night Supper in Winter
Each year on January 25th, Scotland has its annual “Burns Night Supper” – celebrating the life and works of the famous poet, Robert Burns (aka, the gentleman that wrote Auld Lang Syne). Get yourself some haggis, a group of friends and a few of his world-wide famous poems and enjoy an evening supper!
9.) Summer Solstice at Stonehenge in Summer
Each year, during the summer solstice (Monday 20th June in 2016), upwards of 40, 000 people head to Stonehenge to celebrate the rising sun! Take some hot chocolate, a picnic and enjoy a celebratory evening watching the sun-rise around 450am! The event takes place to mark the believed importance of Stonehenge as a religious and seasonal site to early Pagans in Britain. If its a sunny day, you will have the most perfect evening ever!