Mud racing? Cheese rolling? Take your pick from the UK's most wonderfully eccentric festivals

Nermin Oomer
Yahoo! News


Mud racers? Cheese rollers? Yes, they'll be out in force this weekend for two of England’s strangest festivals. But they aren’t the only eccentric, bizarre and downright crazy events which take place in the UK each year. Here’s a rundown of the seven most wacky, weird and wonderful.

Event: Maldon Mud Race
Where:
Maldon, Essex
When:
5th May 2013
What’s it all about: Around 300 competitors race through the slimy, sticky, stinking, ink-black mud of the Blackwater Estuary. The race can only take place at low tide when the water is low enough for entrants to run the 400 metres from one bank to another. Participants, who are often in fancy dress, are advised to get a tetanus jab and tape their shoes to their feet! The idea for the race is said to have originated in a local pub in the 1970s. The event was orginally held in December but due to freezing weather in 2010 it was postponed until Spring. This change of date was such a success, as thousands of spectators lined the riverbank, that organisers made the change permanent.
Eccentricity rating: 3 out of 5







Event: Stilton Cheese Rolling Championships
Where:
Stilton, Cambridgeshire
When:
6th May 2013
What’s it all about: Where else would the Stilton Cheese Rolling Championships take place than in the village of Stilton?
From a point on the High Street, teams of four steer the cheese to the finish line with their hands. Various heats take place and as contestants get knocked out the friendly competition intensifies. The prizes are always the same – a whole Stilton cheese and beer for the male winners and a Stilton cheese and wine for the ladies. No one seems to know how far back the tradition of cheese rolling goes, but it is said that it was revived in Stilton by the landlord of a local pub in the mid 20th century as trade dwindled due to the A1 bypass being built. The story goes that he took to rolling a cheese outside his pub to attract custom. At first people watched, then eventually joined in and so it turned into an annual sporting event.
Eccentricity rating: 4 out of 5

Event: Man Versus Horse Marathon
Where:
Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Mid Wales
When:
8th June 2013
What’s it all about: Men, women and riders on horse-back race it out across the rough terrain of Mid Wales covering a distance of 22 miles. The course includes hills, forestry roads, tracks and moorland around the edges of the Brecon Beacons. The course was changed in 1982 with the aim of providing a more even match between human and animal. The competition began in 1980 when the owner of a local hotel overheard two men in the bar discussing whether over a distance a man was equal to a horse. The owner decided to put it to the test and it took 25 years for a human to finally beat a horse!
Eccentricity rating: 3 out of 5
 
Event: World Snail Racing Championship
Where:
Congham, Norfolk
When:
20th July 2013
What’s it all about: ‘Ready, Steady, Slow!’ is the starter’s signal as hundreds of snails slug it out for the title of ‘Fastest Snail in the World’ at the World Snail Racing Championships. Anyone with a snail can enter and each snail is identified by a number. The course is 13in long marked on a damp tablecloth. Several heats take place before the grand final and the winner gets a silver tankard full of lettuce. The championships have been running for more than 25 years with last year’s winner, called Racer, completing the course in three minutes 20 seconds. However, this doesn’t come close to the world record holder, Archie, who like a snail on speed, completed the course in just two minutes.
Eccentricity rating: 3 out of 5


What: World Gravy Wrestling Championships
Where:
Rossendale, Lancashire
When:
26th August 2013
Contestants slip and slide about in luke-warm gravy grappling each other in the World Gravy Wrestling Championships. A paddling pool full of gravy is the ring and entrants often wear outlandish fancy dress outfits to compete. Judging is based on technique as well as cheers from the crowd. The event was started in 2007 and spectators arrive in force to laugh at proceedings, while TV cameras often record the slippery, slimey action for audiences all over the world. The winners receive a glittering trophy and as well as gravy, get to wallow in fame.
Eccentricity rating: 5 out of 5

Event: World Bog Snorkelling Championship
Where: Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Mid Wales
When:
25th August 2013
What’s it all about: If you fancy getting down and dirty in a bog, then the annual Bog Snorkelling Championships are the place for you! Grab a snorkel, flippers and mask to take part in this weird and wacky event. Entrants have to snorkel two lengths of a specially dug out 60 yard trench in a peat bog. Conventional swimming strokes are not allowed so snorkellers have to rely on their flippers to get moving. The competition is thought to have begun in 1976 to promote the Llanwrtyd Wells area.
Eccentricity rating: 4 out 5

Event: World’s Biggest Liar
Where:
Santon Bridge, Cumbria
When:
21st November 2013 TBC
What’s it all about: Who would have thought that being labelled a liar would be such a sought-after title?
But that is just what the contestants of The World’s Biggest Liar contest hope for.
Entrants have five minutes to impress the judges with the most outrageous but convincing lie.
The annual contest is held at The Bridge Inn pub in Santon Bridge, a hamlet in the Lake District. The competition is held in honor of 19th-century pub landlord Will Ritson, who was famous for his incredible stories, keeping his customers entertained. One of his most well-known tales was that turnips grew so large in the Lake District that they were carved out to make cow sheds!
Eccentricity rating: 5 out of 5