The annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll and Wake is without a doubt the poster-boy for the world’s ridiculous and dangerous opportunities to hurt oneself under the guise of tradition; perhaps only sharing its crown with Spain’s Running of the Bulls.
No photo you might have seen is able to do justice to the literal sinking feeling you get standing on the lip of Cooper’s Hill. The top of the hill is more like the cliff edge of a plateau, dropping away at a vertiginous angle, pitted with gullies and surprise hollows all waiting to grab at a miss-placed ankle.
Many British festivals are synonymous with the need to pack your best gumboots/wellies; Glastonbury veterans love to proudly compare the depth of mud they have slogged through for love of music.
What I didn’t expect was for my first mudslide festival to be at the world’s largest philosophy and music event.
I do have to admit a certain closed-mindedness when it comes to notorious party-island destinations. I’ve always been unenthused by the tales I’ve heard from Bali (or Aus-Bali-a as it could otherwise be known), I found few redeeming features in Corfu and please get my head examined if I ever mention Ibiza as a possible destination.
Well here we are: 7 festivals down, and over 20 yet to go in European Bazaar. But already we have a clear front-runner for the best and most bizarre festival in the One Small World Awards! Will anyone be able to eclipse the friendly lunacy of Blackawton’s International Festival of Wormcharming?
‘Problem is that all the best stones you’ve had, you’ve thrown away…” – Ron, back-to-back ‘Old Tosser’
I’ve always had a soft spot for Wales. The very same rain that sheeted through the streets and turned to mud underfoot while I was at the HowTheLightGetsIn festival, was the very same that made my onward trip deeper into the heart of Wales the most enjoyable drive of the trip so far.
If there’s been a common theme thus far with the Spanish festivals of European Bazaar, it has been the definite need of earplugs.
In March, at Valencia’s Las Fallas, it was the likelihood of having your eardrums popped like bubblegum by your close proximity to any one of a million fireworks. At the Mallorcan festival of Es Firo it’s probably going to be because there is a man dressed as a pirate and he appears to have bought his own shotgun to the festival…BOOM…
And that is only the beginning of the craziness.
Nothing comes more naturally to kids (well at least boys) than the waterbomb. It seems to engage our most primal desire to make as much mess as possible along with our insuppressible urge to bodily throw ourselves off things. But in a world of No Running, No Splashing, and definitely NO WATERBOMBING, the window of years in which you can find a sneaky moment to waterbomb your friends and get away with it seems to be shrinking.
On the very outskirts of Edinburgh, commanding stunning views across Scotland’s ruggedly beautiful capital, sits Calton Hill. Here exposed to the elements, in full view of the turning seasons, a battle is about to take place in a faerie world where passion and purity are manifest. Tonight someone will die and be reborn – welcome to the lust and loincloths of Scotland’s Beltane festival.