There’s nothing like enjoying the local, and often strange, traditions of the quaint villages of England. The Cotswolds is no exception.
The Cotswolds of England has been dubbed one of the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and for good reason. With gorgeous scenery and quaint villages, the area is one of the best areas to visit on a UK vacation but there’s also some rather strange activities to enjoy.
The Cotswolds encompass several English counties, with the majority being in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but it also spreads into Somerset, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. With the various quaint villages, built from the warm local golden Cotswold stone and dating back into historic times, several quaint and wacky events are held on an annual basis.
One of these is the Randwick Wap. Held every year on the second Saturday in May, this fun event dates back to the Middle Ages. It involves a costumed procession through the town, followed by the ceremonial dunking of Randwick’s mayor in the village pond.
There are several attractions available during the festival, including children’s amusements, fancy costumes, food and competitions.
According to Eventful Stays, the Randwick Wap has become popular with tourists and now attracts visitors from all over the world. During the festival, the Mayor-elect is given a chain of office by his predecessor, while at the same time the Wap Queen is crowned and they are both carried through the village, cheered on by both residents and visitors.
Bilbury is a charming Cotswold town in Gloucestershire and every year on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) a duck race is held. While onlookers can enjoy mulled wine and fresh mince pies, they watch as over 2,000 ducks race down the river, with a brave soul wading after them to encourage the fowl to move along.
According to a blog by Character Cottages, attendees can sponsor a duck for just £10 ($15) and if their duck comes in first, get the honor of donating the winnings to a charity of their choice. The video below shows the Bilbury Boxing Day Duck Race held in 2012.
Bourton-on-the-Water is another quaint Cotswold town, and having the word “water” in its name is very appropriate when it comes to the annual Bourton Football in the Water event.
— CotswoldsTourismBiz (@CotsTourismBiz) September 1, 2015
This unusual (and exceedingly wet) game has been played on an annual basis for over 100 years and is held on the last bank holiday in August.
It involves members of the Bourton River Football Club playing a game in the water of the Windrush River, which runs through the town, cheered on by both locals and visitors alike.
The Cotswold village of Tetbury was once a thriving wool town during the Middle Ages, and some traditions carry on to the present day including the Tetbury Woolsack Races. Thousands of cheering people line the streets each year during May as competitors race through the town with heavy woolsacks balanced on their backs.
This tradition reportedly started back in the 17th Century and is perhaps just as popular now as it was back then.
Traditional Bank Holiday fun yesterday with the Woolsack Race in Tetbury. What’s your strangest sporting event? pic.twitter.com/b8zn5Ti4so
— KICCA (@KICCASPORT) May 26, 2015
With the surrounding scenery, gorgeous traditional villages and so many more quaint and unusual traditions to enjoy, the Cotswolds of England are a must on a UK vacation.
[Photos by: The Cotswolds featured image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Giorgos Vintzileos / Randwick Wap CC BY 2.0 Barry W. / Football in the water CC BY 2.0 Martyn Wright / Tetbury Woolsack Race CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Synwell]