England’s calendar is packed with a wide variety of entertaining and indulgent festivals, starting with New Year’s Eve, which is hedonistically celebrated throughout the country, to the cool, world-renowned summer music festivals, such as Glastonbury Festival. England is also home to a number of established sporting events and traditional celebrations, such as May Day.
St Patrick’s Day
An excuse for a good, old fashioned booze fest, St Patrick’s Day appears to be celebrated in almost every establishment throughout the country. Guinness sales go through the roof, live bands belt out Irish folk classics, and everyone sports a green garment of some sort to get in on the fun. In cities such as London and Birmingham, huge parades are organized through the centers.
For centuries, May Day has been celebrated in England on the first of the month. While not quite as popular as they once were, the festivities today are locally-orientated and centered around the symbolic Maypole, and includes Morris dancing and the crowning of a May Queen. The festival dates back to the pagan beliefs of the Anglo-Saxons.
Wimbledon Tennis Championships
One of the most respected tournaments in sport and the oldest tennis championship in the world, Wimbledon is one of those event that oozes Englishness. The only major still played on grass; everything about the tournament screams tradition, from the strawberries and cream eaten by spectators, to its Royal patronage and lack of advertising. The tournament is held in late June and early July.
Possibly the most famous music festival in the world, Glastonbury Festival held in June welcomes the biggest names in the music industry to perform on a plethora of stages and tents around a huge field. Although now more mainstream than it once was, the English festival still retains a hippy, bohemian vibe.
Notting Hill Carnival
One of the most exciting and colorful festivals in the country, Europe’s biggest street carnival is held towards the end of the August in Notting Hill, England. Founded by West Indian immigrants in the 1960’s, the carnival is buzzing from start to finish, with endless crowds of people, bands, performances, and stalls selling Caribbean culinary delights.
A similar celebration to the ones held in the US, Halloween is the perfect excuse to dress up as anything and everything and act out your childhood fantasies. Plenty of establishments throw costume parties and you are bound to see more than your fair share of drunken zombies crawling through the streets until the early hours of the night, throwing inhibition to the wind.
Guy Fawkes Night
Strangely enough, the English festival on November 5 celebrates the failed attempts of terrorist Guy Fawkes to blow up Parliament in 1605. Each year, impressive bonfires are constructed in public arenas and traditionally burn effigies of Fawkes on top. Huge firework displays can be seen throughout the country in park areas and backyards alike.
New Year’s Eve
One of the calendar’s most fun loving evenings sees English people spilling out of pubs, clubs, and house parties on every street corner as they celebrate the past 12 months and welcome in a new year. London, in particular, is a great place to spend the evening, counting down the remaining seconds of the year outside the capital’s famous clock tower, Big Ben.