British festivals to see this spring

Every Easter Monday, the villages of Hallaton and Medbourne in Leicestershire engage in a riotous bottle-kicking contest. Believed to date to the 1700s, the event begins with a parade through both villages, where a hearty hare pie (nowadays made of beef) is hurled into the crowd.

Once the 'hare pie scramble' is won, the real battle commences. On a best-of-three basis, the contest sees each team wrestle the 'bottle' (a small keg or barrel) over ditches, hedges, barbed wire and a stream. The game is as ugly as it is competitive and can last for hours. GoLeicester.

But if that all seems a bit too rough and tumble for your delicate tastes, then why not try your hand at Eel Throwing.

On May Day, the people of Ely, Cambridgeshire dedicate an entire day to the city's namesake – the humble eel. As well as tastings, folk music and a parade with Ellie the Eel, there is the eel-throwing competition, a sport dating back almost half a decade. Happily, these 'eels' are tights stuffed with socks, with rice providing ballast. Entry is open to all.


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