Friday 3 June 2016Editor's Choice
Thousands of spectators and scores of brave competitors will gather on Dover’s Hill in Chipping Campden on Friday 3 June 2016, attending what promises to be a particularly special sporting spectacle in the form of Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games 2016.
Following a milestone 400-year anniversary in 2012, the Cotswold Olimpick Games promises a fun-packed day out for local families and visitors alike, having won gold in the Tourism Experience of the Year in the Cotswolds Tourism Awards 2013.
With a plethora of unusual sporting events, a whole host of family activities and plenty of demonstrations to keep visitors entertained, the Gloucestershire custom is a highlight of the summer events calendar and has attracted attention from around the world over the years.
This year, the fun is expected to start at 7pm in the Jacobean Village, complete with entertainers in period costume. Visitors can expect to see lots of different activities this year before the games start, including fairground activities.
Drawing upon customs established as far back as 1612, the nominated ‘Robert Dover’ will arrive on horseback to open the games, which include The Champion of the Hill; The Five-Mile Run through the grounds of Campden House; and the Junior Circuit Race of Dover’s Hill. The Tug of War final and the British Shin Kicking Championships are also sure to prove popular with Olimpick crowds in the Lower Arena.
The Torchlight Procession is not to be missed and includes the lighting of the bonfire by the Scuttlebrook Queen, a dramatic fireworks display, followed by the unique sight of thousands of people illuminated by torchlight making their way down the hill.
Chipping Campden town square will then fill with revellers, before hours of entertainment and dancing commence. Many of Chipping Campden’s local hotels, pubs and restaurants will also stay open late for the special occasion.
Like many of Gloucestershire’s more unusual customs, the Olimpick Games have a somewhat unknown but certainly long history, rooted in paying homage to the ancient Games of Greece. The Cotswold Games as we know them today draw upon records from the early seventeenth century, in particular a collection of poems and illustrations from 1636 showing attorney Robert Dover presiding over what is now known as Dover’s Hill – with activities including dancing, backswords, coursing, throwing the sledge hammer, spurning the barre, pike drill tumbling and shin kicking all taking place.
Moreover, Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games have in fact been cited by the British Olympic Association as a precursor to the Olympics as we know them today: ‘The Cotswold Games began the historical thread in Britain that was ultimately to lead to the creation of the modern Olympics’. And reigning King James I is said to have given the Games his stamp of approval, recognising the event’s ability to ‘promote good feeling among the common people towards their king’ according to an account from The Times newspaper.
See the Gloucesterhire wacky events guide for more unusual events in the county.
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