Introducing The Wacky Cotswolds Cheese Rolling Event (2023)

There are some wonderful traditions around the world to do with food.

In Spain, there’s La Tomatina where participants throw tomatoes at each other and the famous La Feria de Jerez, a festival for eating bull testicles. In Italy, there’s the Battle of the Oranges where people throw oranges at each other.

In the U.S., the Gilroy Garlic Festival celebrates all things garlic, including garlic-flavored ice cream.

    But the Cotswolds has all these beat hands down in the world of bizarre food traditions with the annual Cotswolds Cheese Rolling; a hugely entertaining tradition that has been practiced in England’s designated area of outstanding natural beauty for centuries.

    This isn’t your standard cheese rolling along a flat road (which may or may not even be an event). Instead, participants chase a 9-pound Double Gloucester cheese down a near-vertical hill, with the first person to cross the finish line winning the cheese.

    This unusual tradition has gained worldwide attention and has become a must-see event for tourists visiting the Cotswolds.

    The origins of the Cotswolds Cheese Rolling tradition are shrouded in mystery, but it is believed to have started as a way for farmers to maintain grazing rights on the commons.

    Another theory suggests that the event has pagan origins, where people would throw bundles of burning brushwood down the hill to represent the sun. Despite its uncertain origins, the tradition has endured and has become an integral part of the Cotswolds culture.

    Every year, hundreds of people gather at Cooper’s Hill to watch the spectacle of participants tumbling down the hill in pursuit of the cheese.

    This is not an April Fool. This is an actual event dating back hundreds of years.

    History of Cotswolds Cheese Rolling

    The Cotswolds Cheese Rolling takes place in the Cotswolds region of Gloucestershire, England. The origins of this event are not clear, but it is believed to date back to the 15th century. The event involves rolling a Double Gloucester cheese down a steep hill, and participants race down the hill after it. The first person to cross the finish line wins the cheese.

    The event was originally held on Cooper’s Hill, near Gloucester, but it was moved to a new location in the Cotswolds in 2010 due to safety concerns. The new location is a gentler slope, but the event is still just as exciting as ever.

    The tradition of cheese rolling is deeply rooted in the culture of Gloucestershire which is famous for its Double Gloucester cheese, which is made from the milk of Gloucester cows. The cheese is hard and crumbly, and it has a rich, nutty flavor that is perfect for cooking or snacking.

    Cotswolds Cheese Rolling is a fascinating and entertaining tradition that has been a part of Gloucestershire’s culture for centuries. The event is a testament to the region’s love of cheese and its quirky sense of humor.

    The Event

    The event is held annually in May at Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire, England.

    Location

    Cooper’s Hill is a steep hill located in the Cotswolds region of England and approximately 200 yards long with a gradient of 1:2. The hill is the perfect location for cheese rolling as it provides a challenging and exciting course for the competitors.

    Cotswolds Cheese Rolling

    Rules

    The rules of cheese rolling are simple. A round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down the hill, and competitors chase after it. The first person to cross the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese. However, due to the steepness of the hill, most competitors end up tumbling and rolling down the hill themselves.

    Competitors

    Competitors come from all over the world to take part in the Cotswolds Cheese Rolling. The event is open to anyone who wants to participate, and there are no restrictions on age or gender. However, due to the dangerous nature of the event, competitors are required to sign a waiver before taking part.

    The competitors are a diverse group of people, ranging from seasoned veterans to first-time participants. The competition is fierce, and everyone is vying for the coveted prize of a round of Double Gloucester cheese.

    In the 2022 race an American won but there were several injuries as this video shows.

    The Danger of Cheese Rolling

    Cotswolds Cheese Rolling is a thrilling and bizarre tradition that has been taking place for centuries. However, as much fun as it may seem, it is also an extremely dangerous sport that has resulted in numerous injuries over the years.

    The cheese can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, making it almost impossible to catch. As a result, many participants end up tumbling down the hill, often getting injured in the process.

    The steep hill, combined with the high speeds and the large number of participants, creates a recipe for disaster. Broken bones, sprains, and bruises are just some of the injuries that participants have suffered in the past.

    The danger of Cotswolds Cheese Rolling is not just limited to the participants. Spectators too have been known to get injured while watching the event. The cheese can easily fly off course and hit someone standing on the sidelines, causing serious injuries.

    The event is so dangerous that the local authorities have had to take action to prevent accidents. In recent years, they have set up barriers along the edge of the hill to prevent people from falling off and injuring themselves.

    Ambulances are also on standby, ready to take injured participants to the hospital.

    The Festival

    Every year, the festival is a popular attraction for tourists from all over the world, with many traveling from London to witness the spectacle. It is estimated that over 5,000 people attend the event each year, with some even participating in the race.

    The festival has been a tradition in the Cotswolds for over 200 years, with written evidence of cheese rolling dating back to 1826. The event has evolved over time and now includes multiple races, including a children’s race and a downhill race for those brave enough to try.

    Despite the dangers involved in chasing a cheese down a steep hill, the festival continues to draw in crowds year after year. In fact, the event has become so popular that it has inspired similar cheese rolling events in other parts of the world.

    While some may question the safety and sanity of such a tradition, it is clear that the locals hold the Cotswolds Cheese Rolling in high regard and the event has become an integral part of the local culture, its continued popularity is a testament to the enduring appeal of this bizarre and entertaining tradition.

    Whether you are a local or a visitor to the area, the spectacle of watching participants chase a wheel of cheese down a steep hill is sure to leave a lasting impression.

    So, if you ever find yourself in Cotswolds during the spring bank holiday, be sure to check out this one-of-a-kind event.

    Enchantment Awaits
    Enchantment Awaits

    The Cotswolds region is home to many charming villages and towns, churches, historic landmarks, outdoor activities, in a beautiful part of England. After visiting the region many times, we created the TravelCotswolds.com website dedicated to helping others plan their own trips to the Cotswolds.

    Quick guides: Compton Abdale: A Village With Great Walks To Explore, , Daglingworth: A Peaceful Village With Traditional CharmBagendon: A Quaint Village in the Cotswolds, and Avening: Stunning Views Across Rolling Hills

    Contact: hello@travelcotswolds.com

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