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10 British Festivals That Are So Weird They're Really Quite Wonderful

Because who wouldn't want to spend their summer at a toe-wrestling competition?!

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1. Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival, Yorkshire

Gavin Stewart (CC BY 2.0) / Via Flickr: gavinandrewstewart, Via Flickr: gavinandrewstewart

You'll be double-taking as you stroll through this one-of-a-kind festival where scarecrows humorously take on the roles of public figures and civilians in the idyllic villages of Yorkshire. What started as a fundraising event in 1994 is now an annual occasion drawing in thousands of visitors every August.

2. World Toe Wrestling Championship, Derbyshire

Enrique Mendizabal (CC BY-ND 2.0) / Via Flickr: quiquemendizabal

Socks off – ready, set, wrestle! Not your average wrestling match, the World Toe Wrestling Championship attracts crowds from all over as competitors battle it out in the quaint setting of an English pub. A ~sport~ that the Brits have dominated for the past decade involves opponents interlocking toes and trying to force each others' feet off the "toedium" or to their respective sides of the "ring".

3. Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Stonehenge Stone Circle (CC BY 2.0) / Via Flickr: stonehenge-stone-circle, Via Flickr: stonehenge-stone-circle

Channel your inner hippie for the longest and most anticipated day of the year: the first day of summer. The Summer Solstice is uniquely celebrated at the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge. As the monument is typically roped off, this day is special because it allows solstice revellers, many of whom dress in costume, to actually gather within and among the stones to watch the magnificent sunrise which starts around 4:50am.

4. International Festival of Wormcharming, Devon


Yes, you read that correctly: Wormcharming is in fact an art that hundreds of people come to witness in Blackawton, Devon. Once voted as Europe's most unmissable festival, this unusual family event challenges costume-clad "charmers" to collect as many worms as possible in just 15 minutes.

5. Cheese-Rolling on Cooper's Hill, Gloucestershire

michael warren (CC BY 2.0) / Via Flickr: mikewarren

This thrilling, albeit injury-inducing, activity has been extremely popular over the years in the county of Gloucestershire. Many thousands have gathered to watch contestants hurtle down the 1:2 gradient of Cooper's Hill in pursuit of an eight-pound hunk of cheese! Exhilarating to watch, few competitors actually manage to catch the cheese – so the winner is simply the first person to the foot of the hill.

6. Scottish Highland Games, Scotland

Simon Fraser University / Via Flickr: sfupamr, John Haslam (CC BY 2.0) / Via Flickr: foxypar4

Get ready for some serious kilt action — somewhat related to music, the famous games feature athleticism, competitive pipe bands, and technical dancing. While adopted worldwide, the origins of the games stem from the scenic areas of splendid Scotland and celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture.

7. Bog Snorkelling Championships, Wales

Courtesy of Peter Barnett for Green Events

Just when you thought things couldn't get any quirkier, the Welsh introduce bog snorkelling. Racing in a 60-yard trench, these competitors like to ~play dirty~ and take on the race in costume while spectators cheer them on along the way in the grassy town of Llanwrtyd Wells.

8. The Padstow ‘Obby ‘Oss, Cornwall

Bryan Ledgard (CC BY 2.0) / Via Flickr: ledgard, Via Flickr: ledgard

Attracting tens of thousands of people to the little Cornish town of Padstow, this famous May Day (known as 'Obby 'Oss Day) celebration has been taking place for centuries. With the town joyfully decorated with flowers, ribbons, and even a maypole (a traditional feature of spring festivities in England), crowds gather to witness a procession of two dance troupes. Dressed in either red or blue, the groups take to the streets and play drums and accordions while followers join in to sing the traditional May song.

9. Great Dorset Chilli Festival, Dorset

Phil Guest (CC BY-SA 2.0) / Via Flickr: philip-rosie, Via Flickr: philip-rosie

Unlike other British food festivals, this one is not for the fainthearted. From a chilli cook-off to chilli-growing competitions to a chilli-eating competition — this fiery festival lights up the area of Dorset every summer.

10. World Gravy Wrestling Championships, Lancashire

Knockabout fun at the World Gravy Wrestling Championships yesterday #itsallgravybaby

We've always been told not to play with our food, but wrestling in it seems fine, right?! The World Gravy Wrestling Championships is one of the most outlandish in the realm of culinary competitions. Opponents wrestle in the gravy for two minutes, and points are scored based on comic effect, fancy dress, and the entertainment factor. Quite the spectacle, this has taken place in a pool of Lancashire gravy for the past 10 years!

See! Britain offers so much more than just music festivals. Visit British Famous to learn more about the best and quirkiest things to do this side of the Atlantic.