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Discover Britain’s quirkiest festivals

From gravy wrestling to bog snorkelling, Britain is home to an array of weird and wacky festivals. These quirky events promise plenty of laughs and entertainment, and often can’t be found anywhere else.

World Bog Snorkelling Championships

Whether visitors fancy watching more than 200 snails slug it out at the World Snail Racing Championships or want to take aim at the World Pea Shooting Championship, these are the eccentric festivals that can add an extra dimension to a future trip to Britain.

Maldon Mud Race

The annual Maldon Mud Race sees around 300 competitors complete a 400-metre dash over the muddy bed of the River Blackwater in Promenade Park. Taking place at low tide, the runners – often kitted out in fancy dress – have to make their way to the opposite bank of the river and back again. In addition to the main race, the event features numerous promotional stalls and a charity duck race.

When: 14th May 2023

Tetbury Woolsack Races

Celebrating the Cotswold village of Tetbury’s past as a major wool producer in the 16th century, the Tetbury Woolsack Races are a test of strength and fitness, as competitors carry a sack of wool up and down a steep hill. The annual event, held over the late May Bank Holiday each year, can trace its origins back to the 17th century and sees men and women cover a course of 240 yards while carrying their woolsack. Men lug a 60lb sack, while women carry a 35lb one, cheered on by huge crowds. As well as the races, there’s also street fair featuring food and drinks stalls, a funfair, musical entertainment and a host of other performers.

When: last bank holiday Monday in May

Isle of Wight Garlic Festival

Visitors can look forward to celebrating the gastronomic wonders of garlic in 2022 at the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, an event dedicated to the famous cooking ingredient! Hosted at the multi-award-winning Garlic Farm in Newchurch, on the Isle of Wight, the festival offers the chance to sample an array of different products, including garlic beer and the Ultimate Bloody Mary! Past years have even seen visitors partake in a ‘heat challenge’, biting into mild flavours before getting their teeth into the fieriest clove, the Vampire Slayer! It’s an opportunity to test the taste buds while enjoying live music, arena entertainment and plenty of fantastic food!

When: 19th - 20th August

Race the Train

As the name suggests, this event sees competitors set off in a race against the Talyllyn Railway, as it covers the journey to Abergynolwyn and back. Found in the heart of picturesque countryside in mid-Wales, the preserved narrow gauge railway runs for 7.25 miles and the races cover all types of terrain, testing competitors to their limits. Race the Train includes several different courses and challenges, including the main race that is just over 14 miles long. Spectators can sit aboard the race trains to watch the action, although tickets must be purchased in advance.

When: 19th August 2023

World Bog Snorkelling Championships

Visitors can imagine diving in at the deep end with a visit to the 34th annual World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. Taking place at the Waen Rhydd bog on the outskirts of the town, competitors take the plunge to snorkel two lengths of the bog – around 110 metres – as quickly as possible while swimming doggy paddle and keeping face down in the water. Attracting competitors and spectators from around the world, there is live music and an array of food, drink and craft stalls to keep everyone entertained. For those who want to test themselves, a Bog Triathlon runs the day before the main event and includes an eight-mile run, 12-mile cycle and 60-yard bog snorkel. Registration to take part closes seven days before the event gets underway.

When: 27th August

World Stone Skimming Championships

Up to 350 competitors flock to Easdale Island, near Oban in Argyll, Scotland, for the World Stone Skimming Championships in September each year. Only naturally formed stones made of Easdale slate can be used and competitors must bounce their stones at least twice for their go to be deemed a valid skim. Anyone of any age and skill can enter, although places are limited.

When: 24th September

World Conker Championships

Played using the seeds of horse chestnut trees, the World Conker Championships sees competitors smash their way to victory in the picturesque Northamptonshire village of Southwick. Hosted by the Ashton Conker Club, the competition has taken place since 1965 and involves players using a conker, threaded with a piece of string, to break their opponent’s conker. Competitors take it in turns to strike their opponent’s piece, with the winner owning the conker that does not break.

When: 8th October 2023

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