Gloucestershire is home to a bevy of outlandish events to raise a smile – and possibly an eyebrow. Whether it’s the internationally renowned Cheese Rolling that captures your imagination or you fancy the chance to take part in a spot of shin-kicking, or perhaps it’s the woolsack racing that has piqued your interest.
From the brave to the barmy, peruse SoGlos’s guide to Gloucestershire’s most wacky events, and find out just when the next madcap mayhem will be making its mark.
Expect to find surf dudes, canoeists and windsurfers aplenty, all riding the epic Atlantic wave of water that forces its way up the Severn Estuary at speeds of up to 20mph, with hordes of spectators all flocking to the river banks to witness the natural phenomenon.
Various times throughout the year.
The River Severn has the second largest tidal range in the world, so the bore can reach anything up to two metres in height – great news for sports enthusiasts who fancy a change from Newquay.
See The Severn Bore.
An action-packed day, the village of Frampton-on-Severn hosts brave competitors set to satisfy their stomachs in the Elver Eating World Championships. With a classic car show, children’s entertainment, dog show and more, the village is brought to life by this slightly bonkers contest.
Annually in September.
The popular event returns with a man-made and sustainable type of eel, el-vers, due to the real thing being a protected species.
At Gloucester’s historic Docks each spring, you’ll find hordes of fancy dress-clad rowers, steerers and drummers making their way across the water in decorative dragon boats, ready to rile up the spectators from far and wide with music and passion, before plenty more entertainment in the afternoon, featuring a fun fair, stalls and live music.
Annually in May.
The descent of the dragon boats is an annual Gloucester tradition, now past its 16th year and anyone can take part – whether you’re a salty sea dog or new mate.
Expect to find an unruly bunch of rugged runners demonstrating their immense strength and fitness by taking on the steep ‘1 in 4’ hill through Tetbury town with a weighty 60lb (for the gents) or 35lb (for the ladies) woolsack on their backs. Spectators can also join the townsfolk in celebration at the street fair, complete with live music and dance performances, stalls filled with local produce and fairground rides for the kids.
Annually on the last bank holiday Monday in May.
While the races are thought to have originated in the 17th century, the bank holiday shenanigans have become an official draw to Tetbury for more than 30 years, with the chance for competitors to snag a world record.
Perhaps the most famous of Gloucestershire’s wacky traditions, the annual cheese rolling competition at Cooper’s Hill sees hundreds of locals pegging it down a very steep slope after an elusive 8lb Double Gloucester cheese. Due to popular demand, organisers have even added a ladies’ downhill and kids’ uphill race, providing the opportunity for the whole family to take part. Attracting thousands of spectators from near and far, the event has gained recognition across the globe and even inspired a New Zealand version. Despite being officially cancelled since 2010, an unofficial event has been staged ever since.
Traditionally on the last bank holiday Monday in May.
The colourful collection of fancy dress sported by competitors each year – with everything from superheroes and farmyard animals to Borat-style mankinis providing inspiration.
In the River Windrush every bank holiday Monday in August, you’ll find a gaggle of goal-scoring geezers from Bourton Rovers Football Club playing a laugh-a-minute game of football. While immersed up to their knees in freezing water, all battle it out for glory in this 100-year-old competition. Thousands of spectators converge on the grassy banks each year, but be warned, waterproofs are a must if you plan on getting a side-line view, as splashing is all part of the fun and these boys are hoping to get as many people wet as possible.
Annually on the last Bank holiday Monday in August.
That the soaking wet silliness is all part of the community spirit in Bourton-on-the-Water, with charitable donations, a fete and duck racing all raising money on the day.
Hundreds of people all crying (with laughter usually) in unison, in celebration of the glorious, humble onion. This totally unique Forest of Dean event takes in a generous dollop of music, lots of local produce (including onions, of course) and family fun – including demonstrations and displays, craft stalls, circus skills and even a fun fair complete with a Helter-Skelter and Big Wheel. Indisputably an event of many layers…
Annually in September.
The world-famous raw onion-eating contest is a particular highlight, giving competitive types something to really get their teeth into.
See Newent Onion Fayre.
Expect to find f-f-f-freezing cold festive frolics as those looking to add a crazy twist to their Christmas celebrations brave the unheated icy December depths and take the plunge at Sandford Parks Lido in Cheltenham – sometimes in fancy dress, too! Participants must even sign a waiver form prior to entering the ice-cold water, with organisers warning this is not for the faint-hearted.
Annually on Christmas Day.
The peculiar pastime is believed to have taken off after American servicemen boldly opted for a Christmas day wash during World War II, and is now seen as an annual challenge for many of the seasonal swimmers.
Thursday 02 January 2020
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