Your Guide To The ‘Cheese Rolling Festival,’ England 

Did you know that there was a festival in the UK where they chase a big ball of cheese down a hill? Well believe it or not this actually exists and if you want to see something different this year then why not head down to Gloucester in England to watch some brave souls seeking to be victorious as they look to catch the rolling cheese in one of the weirdest festivals in the World. Let’s take a look at how the Cooper Hill Cheese Festival came to being at what it comprises of.

The Beginnings

There are 2 arguments for how the event originated, the first is that it was a battle between farmers that took place each year on Whit Monday to see how would have grazing rights of the common for the summer. The second notion is that it was related to the Pagan tradition of rolling wood down the hill to celebrate the end of the winter, they also used to scatter biscuits and fruit from the top of the hill as part of the ceremony and some think that the cheese was the symbolism of this.

The Format

The format of the modern day cheese rolling festival is that a 9lb round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled from the top of the hill and the competitors head off after it. Crowds line the sides of the hill and cheer the competitors on. The winner is not the person who catches the cheese as many think, but the first person to cross the finish line at the bottom, the victor will win the round of cheese. The cheese has the ability to reach speeds of up to 70km per hour so catching it is near impossible. There are two pubs close to the hill where competitors and visitors gather before the event to load up on a little courage before they face the tiresome climbing of the hill and then the treacherous race back down.

The Dangers

This is actually an incredibly dangerous festival as the hill is extremely steep, whilst it can be humorous for onlookers to watch human bodies tumble down the hill in search of cheese, many sustain injuries that can be serious. Each year the St John’s Ambulance service will head to the event to treat injuries that are sustained from tumbling down the steep and uneven hill.

How to See it?

If you are up for competing in this zany event or if you wish to watch it then you need to head to Brockworth in Gloucestershire on the Spring Bank Holiday Monday. The event still runs each year despite much backlash from councils who suggest that the dangers are not worth keeping up the tradition. Despite the backlash there has actually been a ‘Save the Cheese’ campaign which has been very successful. An entry fee was introduced in 2011 but quickly scrapped after many complaints from locals. This is a tradition that doesn’t look as though it is going anywhere soon so get yourself to Chase Hill this year and watch one of the weirdest festivals in the World.

Your Guide To ‘La Tomatina’ in Buñol, Spain

If you want to a go to one of the World’s messiest festivals then why not learn some Spanish and visit Spain this year and go to a festival where you can spend the day throwing rotten tomatoes at people. Wait, what, Tomatoes? That’s right people, a festival exists in the World where you essentially spend your day, launching piles and and piles of tomatoes at each other in the street before being hosed down by the local fire service. Ladies and Gentlemen, we bring you, La Tomatina, and here is your guide to this crazy Spanish festival.

The Origins of the Festival

The festival takes place in Buñol, Valencia and has done since around 1944, its origins are unclear but the general thought is that it began when the townspeople became frustrated at the city councillors and rioted by throwing tomatoes at them to display their discontent. The years that followed saw the beginnings of the festival until it was banned in the lat 50s as a result of having no religious significance. After a swell of public support, the festival was reinstated in 1970 where it became an official festival and had rules imposed. the key year for the festival was 1975 where the introduction of tomato throwing became a key part of the festival and that has continued up until the modern day.

The Festival

The amount of participants that join the festival each year has risen to around 40,000 as of 2016. The festival is held on the last Wednesday of August during the week-long festivities of Buñol and the tomatoes arrive in trucks from local growers.

The Fight

The tomato fight lasts for around one hour, the beginning of the fight is signified in a strange way but one that is much in line with the festival. At 9am there is a large, greasy pole with a ham tied to the end of it, people scramble to reach the ham and once someone has grabbed it, the fight begins. The rucks will tip around 130 tonnes of ripe tomatoes on to the waiting crowd and madness ensues. The hour-long fight culminates in the sound of a cannon where everyone is left covered in squelchy tomatoes and red from the juice. After the fight, everyone scrambles to find the nearest person with a hose to be cleaned down.

The Rules

Yes, there are rules to this madcap festival and they are as follows:

– You must squish the tomatoes before throwing them in order to avoid injuring people.

– You must not throw anything other than tomatoes during the fight.

– Participants must make way for trucks and lorries coming through.

– After the second cannon is sounded, no tomatoes are allowed to be thrown.

How to Get Involved

As mentioned before, the festival takes place on the last Wednesday or August and in the town of Buñol, Valencia. Participation for the event costs 10 Euros and if you want to be one of those on top of the truck then you will have to pay a whopping 750 Euros.

What better way to spend a Spanish summer day than launching tomatoes at strangers!