Posts written by Ian Hardwick

In the north of Scotland, in the coldest darkest days of winter, fire – lots of it – is the thing to raise the spirits. In Lerwick, Shetland, hundreds of people take place in Up Helly Aa, a celebration of the island’s Viking heritage which has been taking place since the 1880s. Each year at the end of January, more than 40 squads of around 20 men take part in a torch-lit procession through the

In a country famous for its Christmas markets, the Reiterlesmarkt in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria sparkles brighter than all the rest. This picture-perfect walled town, which wouldn’t be out of place on any Christmas card, celebrates Advent in style and has done so since the 15th century. The highlight of the month-long celebration is the arrival of the Reiterle (or horseman). Said to be an otherworldly visitor who glides through the sky on with the souls of the

For some people, the usual November 5th commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot, when Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Parliament in 1605, just isn’t thrilling enough. Standing next to an enormous bonfire and watching fireworks explode around them lacks a little…spark of excitement. In the Devon village of Ottery St Mary the locals like to liven up proceedings by running thought the streets with flaming barrels on their heads. The barrels, which are open at

As every English school boy knows (and plenty of school girls too), October is the month when the mighty Horse Chestnut tree delivers its autumn bounty. In parks throughout the land, children break open the prickly cases and fill their trouser pockets with smooth, shiny conkers. Some may dream that they might, one day, become World Conker Champion. The World Conker Championships take place in Southwick, a quiet village in Northamptonshire, on the second Sunday of

From Icarus of Greek mythology to Leonardo da Vinci of Renaissance Italy, it seems that mankind has always wanted to take to the wing and fly like a bird. It is a yearning that clearly drives the participants of the International Birdman Competition to jump off of the pier at Bognor Regis in Sussex every year. The annual event began in 1971 at Selsey, a little along the coast, before moving to Bognor in 1978. There