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6 UK cultural events that you might not know about

Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood Forest

During the first week of August each year, in celebration of Nottinghamshire’s legendary outlaw, Sherwood Forest is transported back in time all the way to the thirteenth century. The festival has grown from small and humble beginnings into a sprawling pop-up village, with stalls and attractions covering almost a square mile of woodland.

Whether you want to develop your archery skills or watch a high-octane joust between medieval knights, there’s something for everyone with an interest in history. The Robin Hood Festival is a paradise for little boys and girls who have the opportunity to join in theatrical reenactments of the Robin Hood story, providing great entertainment for parents!

Olney Pancake Race

On Shrove Tuesday every year, the ladies of Olney, Buckinghamshire compete in the world famous Pancake Race – a tradition started hundreds of years ago during the War of the Roses in 1445. Competitors see who can set the best time in this pancake extravaganza and it’s a good day out for the whole family. More recently, in the 20th century, the race has become an international affair, with the ladies of Olney competing with the ladies of Liberal in Kansas, USA, to see who is the quickest with a frying pan in hand.

The Royal Shrovetide Football Match

On both Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday each year, a competition unlike any other in the world takes place. Since the reign of Henry II in 1154, Shrovetide ball games have been played all over the UK. The Ashbourne based game, also known as “hugball” has been played since at least 1667 and sees two halves of the town wrestling a leather ball to their respective goals, set a staggering 3 miles apart!

The only out of bounds areas are cemeteries, churchyards and the town memorial gardens, meaning that the ball can end up in all manner of interesting places when the game begins in the centre of Ashbourne. For those of you who’d love to wade through the mud following the mob or just enjoy the revelry of a town come alive, the Royal Shrovetide Football Match is for you.

Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll

The infamous Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll has been taking place in May since the 1800s. Competitors hurl themselves down a steep hill in pursuit of a wheel of prime Gloucestershire cheese; the hill is so steep that few competitors manage to stay on their feet, resulting in many a spectacular cartwheel as racers fly down the hill. The rules are simple, whoever crosses the line at the bottom of the hill wins, as the cheese is never actually caught due to its superior speed.

The Isle of Wight Walking Festival

Heading into calmer, less dangerous territory, from the 4th of May until the 19th every year, 100s of walks are organised all across the Isle of Wight, with many local experts guiding groups through the lesser-known walking routes that span the island. The Isle of Wight is often referred to as ‘England in miniature’ as the vistas span from thatched villages to sprawling sandy beaches. The festival is a unique opportunity to see some of the most stunning scenery in the UK all compacted into one or two days.

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

The Neolithic monument of Stonehenge is one of the most ancient structures in all the UK. Every year, in June, the stones are opened up to the public, something that is rarely allowed by English Heritage, the stone’s overseers. It’s a great opportunity for friends and family to come together to mark the longest day of the year, as people have been doing so for thousands of years. The site holds special significance for members of the UK’s Druid and Pagan community, who perform rituals and celebrations during each solstice.


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