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Eat and Drink, Dance until Morn, and Take a Bath in the Sea

The UK will be hopping with many festivals this Christmas and holiday season.  Starting now, in fact, and running into the New Year, there will be at least one festival somewhere in Great Britain every day.  In addition to the many local and regional festivals, many land based casinos will be running holiday festivals of their own.

The land based casinos know that the competition will be stiffer than usual during the upcoming holiday season so they’ll do a lot to reel you in.  If you still prefer playing online slots over slots at a land based casino (good decision, that), there are still many ways to have a great time this season.  Here are a few:

  • Chiswick Garden in London plays host to the Magic Lantern Festival.  It runs Wednesday through Sunday until New Year’s Day but not Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Boxing Day.  Magic lantern actually takes place in Birmingham and Leeds.  The festival has run in Scotland in the past but has been cancelled for this year.
  • If you like lanterns this time of year, then you can make your own lantern and join in the fun at the Burning the Lamps Festival in Brighton on 21 December.  This festival seeks to join all holiday enthusiast in a light-hearted seasonal celebration far from the modern over-commercialization of Christmas.
  • In many countries, store-keepers barricade their store fronts against the ravages of Mother Nature.  In Kirkwall, they do it against the ravages of human nature, that aspect of human nature that will play a game, even a potentially violent game, even at the expense of one’s nose or worse.  The Ba’ game is played every year on Christmas day and on New Year’s Day (unless they are moved to Monday because the other days fall out on a Sunday).  The Ba’ is a bizarre game.  What makes it so fascinating for non-residents of Kirkwall is how the town turns this local scrum into a festival.
  • The Scarborough Fishermen and Firemen have a charity football game every year on Boxing Day and the entire area along South Bay Beach becomes a festival.
  • Whilst some communities celebrate lanterns, football, or food, the people of Grantchester celebrate their barrels.  Barrel rolling is a long-time tradition there and you can enjoy watching the many barrel races or imbibe in a local pub.
  • It may be the dead of winter but the people of Pembrey know how to make the most of it.  After indulging at Christmas dinner, they turn to the sea on Boxing Day for the annual Walrus Dip.   It’s amazing how many people of all shapes and sizes race into the cold waters off the coast of Wales to “get their feet wet:.  All are invited to join in the “fun” but it’s best if you run into the sea whilst bedecked in some silly costume.  Garish wig will suffice!
  • The Vikings left a tradition behind them in Scotland: the annual New Year’s celebration.  The Scots call it Hogmanay.  In Edinburgh it’s a three-day festival with a torch-light procession and many other happy events.  As old year gives way to new, you can dance at the all-night concert, and partake of the local fare and drink.  As in Pembrey, the people of Edinburgh also take a dip in the frigid waters of the North Sea.  They call their moment in the ice The Loony Dook.  Wear a costume if you must be loony!
  • Hogmanay is celebrated in many other places in Scotland.  The festival in Inverness is called the Red Hot Highland Fling.  In Stonehaven, they put on the fireballs parade.  The townspeople of Biggar begin collecting firewood throughout December so by New Year’s Eve they have the makings of a great bonfire.  Then they light it!  Dufftown is home to the famed Glenfiddich distillery.  Everyone gathers in the Town Square for whisky supplied by Glenfiddich and biscuits from the local biscuiteer, Walkers.  Aberdeen gets in the act with great Scottish music and comedy.  You’ll be able to “follow” the music but if you’re a true outsider, you’ll never be able to appreciate the humour that has the locals chortling loudly!  Lastly, the Comrie Flambeaux features fine apparel, eight massive torches, and wonderful music.

This Year Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy

So, here are just a few of the festivals you can enjoy up and down the British Isles from England to Wales and up into Scotland.  The general themes of all these festivals is joy of being alive to eat, drink, be merry and freeze our buns off in the cold, cold waters of the lands very far north.

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