Stuck for ideas this August bank holiday? Never fear – we’ve scoured the UK for the best events and whittled them down to 10 of the finest. From bog snorkelling to fish festivals and fringe theatre, we have something to make your bank holiday go with a bang.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland
It may not be a bank holiday in Scotland but you can be sure southerners will be taking advantage of the break to catch the last few days of the Fringe. It’s the biggest arts festival in the world with comedy, dance, theatre, music and loads more. And it all ends at the start of September, so catch the madness while you can.
Football in the River, Bourton-on-the-Water, England
Every August bank holiday Monday, the sleepy Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water plays host to this bizarre tradition in which two teams play a game of football knee deep in the River Windrush. Watched by hundreds of locals and visitors who line the riverbank, the event has been going for more than a century. Nobody quite knows how or why it started but this joyously whacky occasion is not to be missed!
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Newlyn Fish Festival, Cornwall, England
Get down to Cornwall’s biggest fishing port on Monday 29 August for this fantastic celebration of seafood. Try Newlyn crab straight off the boat, seafood paella, fish kebabs, cockles, mussels and more. There’ll also be fish cookery demonstrations and workshops. And when you’ve had your fill of the fish, check out live bands, sea rescue helicopters, lifeboats and local craft stalls.
World Bog Snorkelling Championship, Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
Head to Llanwrtyd Wells on 28 August to witness one of Britain’s weirdest events. Competitors from all over the world will brave a stinking peat bog to snorkel for glory through the stench. Fancy dress is encouraged and there are prizes for the best times and the craziest outfits. If you fancy your chances, bring your flippers, snorkel and a taste for the bizarre.
Cardiff Harbour Festival, Cardiff, Wales
The Cardiff Harbour Festival (27-29 August) is the fishy finale of the summer-long, free Cardiff Festival. Tuck into the freshest seafood, dance to sea shanties, explore the tall ships moored in the bay and cheer on the competitors in the British Fishcraft Championships. The festivities are rounded off with a thrilling display by the Breitling Wing Walkers, a fairground, musical acts and a best dressed sea creature and pirate competitions for the kids.
Haunted Histories Tour, Raglan Castle, Wales
Join Lady Blackstone, your guide from 1646, on 28 August, to explore one of Britain’s finest late medieval fortresses and learn some of its spooky secrets. You’ll uncover prophecies, unlock stories of the past and get a good scare in the process. Suitable for children. For other events at historic properties check the Cadw website.
Northern Ireland Hot Air Balloon Festival, Lisburn, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s very first hot air balloon festival promises to be a magnificent spectacle. Every morning and evening 30 balloons will take to the sky in a mass display of colour over parkland just outside Lisburn. Don’t miss the ‘Fire and Light’ show on Saturday and Sunday evening when balloons will set the sky ablaze to music. On the ground, you can enjoy a food festival with stalls offering Armagh cider, speciality cheeses, olives, crepes, fresh bread and more.
Belfast City Blues Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland
The third annual Belfast City Blues Festival takes place in the Cathedral Quarter of the City from 26-28 August. Now firmly established as one of the top blues festivals in Ireland, the 2011 festival boasts top international US blues player Sherman Roberts, the legendary Rab McCullagh as well as Belfast’s Willie Byrne who will be paying homage to the late great Gary Moore of Thin Lizzy.
Manchester Pride, Manchester, England
One of the biggest celebrations of gay culture in the UK reaches its glittering climax over the bank holiday. Manchester Pride’s Big Weekend has acts including, Pixie Lott, Sugarbabes and Blue as well as a market and hundreds of parties along the famous Canal Street gay district.
Mathew Street Music Festival, Liverpool, England
Break out your dancing shoes and head along to Liverpool’s free Mathew Street Festival, the biggest of its kind in Europe. Small acts from more than 30 different countries will join tribute bands celebrating the music of everyone from the Beatles to Bryan Adams.
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