British Culture: 23 Great Traditions and Celebrations in the UK

As a British citizen, I would love to share with you some of the British culture, customs and traditions that vary from the weird to the wonderful, from the traditional to the popular, and from the simple to the grand.

I fell in love with the British culture, I consider myself as an adopted child of this country. All the funny, quirky and unique traditions that this country celebrates and remember is something worth sharing with the world.

Despite the inevitable transformation in British culture, values and norms, the roots can still be easily traced back to the earlier English civilization; it was a big help that the nation’s history is widely and proficiently recorded.

I have written an article about the difference between the UK and Great Britain, If you are interested to know more about their history it’s worth a read! You can also read a sample UK itinerary guide for 2 weeks or the British Isles cruise that I wrote to see and explore the UK.

Here’s the list of some of the greatest British culture, traditions and celebrations in the UK 

1. Cheese Rolling 

Gloucester Cheese Cheese rolling is an unusual British tradition that involves a ball of Double Gloucester cheese and a crowd that is willing to chase it for fun.

It takes place on Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire, England, with a slope so steep the participants have no choice but to stumble their way down to the finish line where, hopefully, the cheese awaits.

Cheese Rolling
British culture and traditions: Cheese Rolling
Photo Credit: Dave Farrance, from Wikimedia Commons

The cheese rolling event takes place every Spring Bank Holiday Monday of the year. Local participants and visitors from all over the world gather at 12 in the afternoon to participate in or witness this sport which dates back to the 15th century when people are assumed to do similar activities as harvest rituals, among other theories.

Extra, extra:
This British tradition is so dangerous that in 1997, a total of 33 competitors were injured.

You can also visit the Cheddar Gorge in Cheddar, Somerset for more cheese-making processes that made the town of Cheddar popular all over the world. I wrote a blog post about our day trip visiting the Cheddar Gorge in Cheddar, Somerset.

Read More: The List of the Best Cheeses in the World

2. Morris Dancing

Morris dancing is both art and history in motion. It usually involves dancing with sticks, handkerchiefs or swords in a style that is depicted mainly by location. Some styles include Cotswold from the South Midlands and Longsword in Yorkshire.

Morris Dancers
British culture and traditions: Morris Dancers in York

This type of dance is typically performed on specific occasions and seasons such as early summer for Oxfordshire and during Christmas and New Year for Yorkshire. However, Morris Dancing can still be performed in other instances.

I wrote an article here for an in-depth look at Morris Dancing in the UK. I encourage you to read to know more about this English tradition.

3. Pub Culture

The pub culture in the UK is an integral part of British culture. The term pub is a short term for “public house.” True to its word origin, a British pub is a place in the neighbourhood where people gather for drinks and discussions after the daily grind.

English Pub
British culture and traditions: Pub culture

The culture prevalent in British pubs is observed to be different from American bars. A member’s only social club is also very common in British towns and villages. In fact, my husband is a Publican, he is a license holder that manages social clubs or any establishments that serves alcohol.

Hence, my husband and I have been living in the pub for a while now, because his Publican job typically comes with accommodation.

You can read here the Best Alcoholic British Pub Drinks To Try in The UK

Extra, extra:
Here are some of the unwritten laws in a British pub:

  • Order from the bar and not from your table. The pubs do not usually have table service.
  • When seated with a group, one should get the order of everybody so as not to crowd the bar.
  • When ordering beer, be specific: ale (dark beer), lager (light beer), bitter (light ale) or stout (very dark beer)
  • Most pubs only take cash for payment. Be ready as you order, but it is frowned upon to wave your bill to call the bartender’s attention.
  • To give tip to your server, offer him or her a drink. It will be added to your tab. If a tip jar is existent, monetary tips are welcome as well.
  • If someone buys you or your table a round, it is customary for the next round to be on you.
  • One bell from the bar means the last order. Two means the bar is closed.

If you want to experience the Historical pub tour, you can join the group here in Viator​.  Alternatively, enjoy the nightlife with this pub crawl tour via Viator in central London.

4. Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea is probably one of the quintessentially British things to partake in, afternoon tea has become a socially acceptable and rather delightful excuse to meet people for ‘some grub’ from 2 until 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

Afternoon tea
British culture and traditions: Afternoon tea

The common afternoon tea comprises select teas, traditional scones, simple sandwiches and petite cakes. Complementing the pastries are clotted cream and fruit jams, amongst others.

The birth of afternoon tea happened in the year 1840 when Anna Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, would request snacks between lunch and dinner. It became a repeated occurrence, and she began inviting friends over to relish the treats with her.

Now, afternoon tea is served regularly around the globe, mostly as special offers in fancy hotels and English restaurants.

Extra, extra:
For £550 per couple, the Cliveden House in Berkshire easily bags the title of one of the priciest afternoon teas to be offered in England. It included expensive teas, exclusive chocolates and fancy ingredients.

You can also book your afternoon tea: Afternoon Tea at The Rubens at the Palace Hotel in London via Viator.

5. Queuing 

The next time you see yourself impatiently falling in line to get tickets to a film showing, think of the humbling history of queuing which traces back to World War II.

Turns out, this social action which British people are now known for emerged as people forming a file to receive supplies, among others. Today, we see English people following invisible lines and maintaining an organized line for just about anything.

Queuing attitude, though, is a topic for another discussion. Albeit lines are kept systematized, no one can blame them for grumbling about the long wait – while instantaneously keeping the queue straight. I wrote another article about British Etiquette and Manners: What is Considered Rude in the UK that is surely worth reading.

Extra, extra:
There are some social customs that are peculiarly deemed unacceptable by a number of the British queuing public. This includes speaking to other people in line and accepting an offer from the person in front of you to go ahead of the line.

6. Regatta

The regatta is a boat race between the rowing teams of Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

Oxford and Cambridge regatta
British culture and traditions: Regatta

The contest dates back to 1829 as a result of a challenge between two friends, Charles Wordsworth (Oxford) and Charles Merrivale (Cambridge.) Now, the race is held annually sometime during the Easter vacation on the River Thames in southwest London.

The racecourse is known as the Championship Course. It is almost 7 kilometres long and is located between Putney and Mortlake.

Extra, extra:
Wondering who won between the two? It was Wordsworth for Oxford. Their crew’s winning boat is showcased at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames.

7. The Queen or King’s Speech 

The Queen or King’s Speech, or in a lengthier title the Speech from the Throne, is a speech made by the reigning monarch at the state opening of the Parliament. Here, the queen addresses the legislature and speaks about the government’s agenda.

The speech is usually penned by the monarch’s advisors, with the queen having the final decision on its contents.

There have been instances when the Queen or King will not be able to deliver her speech for some reason. In the United Kingdom, the reigning monarch can freely choose a delegate to represent her through the speech.

Since the late Queen Elizabeth II passed away last September 2022, it will be King Charles III, the new British Monarch that will deliver this traditional Christmas message to the public.

Extra, extra:
One of the British Christmas traditions is the King or Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day around 3 pm.  This is when the reigning monarch will send her/his festive wishes and message to the public from the comfort of her own British palace or castle.

8. Boxing Day 

Boxing day is the day after Christmas, December 26th. It is counted as an official bank holiday in the UK and Ireland.

A lot has been thought of to have birthed such unusual British tradition and celebration, one of which is the idea that this day is allotted for gift-giving to the less fortunate or – simply put – people not of equal ranking.

What really happens during this day nowadays, though, is that people gather to relish the leftovers from yesterday’s festivities. It is also said to be the time to relax and rest from the holiday prances and parties.

Extra, extra:
What’s in the “box?” Surely, it’s not about the sport. Some say the name of this British Christmas tradition came from another term for presents – the Christmas box. Others say it was from those boxes found in churches, filled with charitable goods and opened the day after Christmas.

I wrote an article about the interesting history of Christmas that you need to know and the different Christmas traditions around the world.

British Christmas Crackers traditions
British culture and traditions: Traditional Christmas crackers

Another British Christmas tradition that is present at every household table during the festive cheers is the most loved British Christmas Crackers that have little tiny gifts and awful jokes inside each cracker.

9. Glastonbury Festival 

The Glastonbury is a contemporary arts festival happening at Worthy Farm in Southwest England. It is founded by Michael Eavis in the 1970s.

glastonbury festival
British culture and traditions: Glastonbury festival

Nowadays, it is the most celebrated music festival in the UK every summer that runs for a couple of days. Festival attire and camping tents are a must to enjoy the great vibes of the festival.  A year in advance ticket booking would be suggested because the Glastonbury festival tickets typically sell in a few hours after going live.

You can buy Glastonbury Festival tickets here.

Extra, extra:
The tickets to the first-ever Glastonbury Festival sold for £1 each – with free milk from the farm.

10. Sports 

A lot of famous sports that are now widely enjoyed actually have British roots. Cricket, football, lawn tennis, rugby and golf to name but a few.

cricket sports british culture
British culture and traditions: Cricket sports

The most popular sport in the UK is football. Each country has its own national team. They compete with other teams from around the globe in different world tournaments such as the well-known FIFA World Cup. As people take the utmost pride in their countries being represented, fans tend to get all worked up with the competition.

Aside from the international arena, football is also celebrated in local areas, with people playing in their local parks all across the land.

Extra, extra:
Football may be famous in England, but it isn’t its national sport: cricket is.

11. Red Phone Box 

Probably one of the most recognizable British icons out there is the red telephone box. It was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1924 and was launched by the post office as the K2 two years after.

british icons red telephone box in london
British culture and traditions: Red telephone box

It was later on redesigned to the K6 in honour of King George V’s silver jubilee. This version is probably the most identifiable of all the models.

Due to the rise in the ownership of mobile phones among the population, the usage of the red telephone box has greatly declined over the past years. With the desire to preserve British heritage in mind, the K6 has now welcomed more diverse purposes for its space. From being a salad stop to housing a library of books, ingenious ways are sprouting up to save this icon from total extinction.

Extra, extra:
Around 2000 red telephone boxes have been listed as proper buildings.

12. British Transport 

Bus. Quick, cheap and iconic – if you are looking to find those three adjectives in one mode of transport, the British double-decker bus is for you. It offers efficient travel, a cheap sightseeing deal and a classic way of doing so.

UK transportation in London
British culture and traditions: British cabs and red double-decker buses

Cab. They say a trip to the UK isn’t complete without hailing a black cab. It may be significantly more expensive than buses, though.

Train. UK’s railway system is the oldest in the world. Almost every town is connected or accessible by train. Different companies manage the networks. Riding the train is probably the most scenic mode of travel to go.

Tube. The tube, or the London Underground Railway System, connects all the main areas in London. Though it tends to be very crowded during rush hour, it still is the most efficient way of roaming around London.

Read More: London Attractions: 49 Best Things to Do in London (UK)

13. British Food

Fish and chips is a very common takeaway food in the UK. As the name implies, it consists of fish that is fried in batter and accompanied by potato chips. Fresh cod is the most common fish used for this dish.

Most Popular British Food | Roast dinner
British culture and traditions: English Roast Dinner

These were conventionally served wrapped in the old newspaper until a more hygienic paper counterpart replaced the wrap. A lot of restaurants offer fish and chips as Friday specials in regards to the traditional no-meat fast of Roman Catholics on Fridays.

Roast dinner. Roast dinner (or classically known as Sunday roast) has become one of the staple British food.

It consists of roast meat, vegetables and a variety of accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding and English mustard. The term Sunday roast came from the said origin of this dish, wherein it is believed to be the traditional meal of British families after attending church on Sundays. The day starts by popping the meat in the oven, adding the veggies and then coming to attend mass.

Doing so, they come home to the smell of a perfectly-roasted feast waiting to be devoured.

14. Excess Politeness 

It is quintessentially British to scatter excessive pardon me’s and thank you’s to one’s speech, they say. It may be seen in two opposing views: that of utter politeness or of complete nonsense.

Whichever of these two are true, there is no denying that this mannerism has made its way to the daily lives of the British people.

15. Sarcasm

The British people are said to use sarcasm on a daily basis. As they find humour in almost everything, they tend to use sarcastic remarks to make fun of the situation.

Often, hyperboles are the way to go. If someone is hearing such a brand of comedy for the first time, it might be a bit difficult to keep up. I wrote some popular British expressions that are worth knowing if you want to keep in the loop in British twangs.

Extra, extra:
Apart from sarcasm, the Brits also use self-deprecation, irony and understatements to joke around.

16. The Curry 

Britain’s love for curry is truly remarkable. It has been highly popularized by Queen Victoria herself.

As the Queen was fascinated by Indian culture, it is only natural for her famous Indian servant, Abdul Karim, to introduce good curry to her. A lot of authentic Indian restaurants have sprung up since then. I wrote an article about the interesting Asian influence on British food, you will see how deep is the connection between the two cultures and their gastronomic flavours.

It would be a great experience to try it for yourself, you can join this Indian Secret food tour in London via Viator

Extra, extra:
National Curry Week is celebrated in Britain every October.

17. A Good Cuppa Tea

The British population is one of the largest tea consumers in the world.

Before, it was a drink only enjoyed by the upper-class. However, as the eighteenth century entered, every social class have made drinking tea a part of their daily habit.

British Cup of Tea
British culture and traditions: English cup of tea

The perfect way to brew a good cup of tea is debatable up to this day. Even scientists released their own take on ‘a good cuppa tea.’ The methods vary from the type of pot used to the proper steeping time. Adding milk to one’s tea is also a huge subject being discussed.

Extra, extra:
The British Empire Tea Bureau released an instructional film about the proper serving of tea in the late 1940s. The instructions are as follows:

  • Always use good-quality tea.
  • Use freshly-drawn water.
  • Warm the pot.
  • Measure tea carefully in the correct proportion to the water.
  • Use just-boiled water.
  • Let the tea infuse properly before serving.

Adding milk is a must for a good brew!

18. Maypole

British Maypole Dancing
British culture and traditions: May Pole Dancing
Photo credit: Ali T, from

The maypole is a symbol in Britain traditionally signifying community gatherings. It is a stick highly decorated with attached hooks, attractive flowers and colourful papers. On May day, dancers circle around the pole with ribbons. It is also widely celebrated in Mainland Europe most especially in the Scandinavian countries and Germany.

I wrote another detailed article about the Maypole Traditions in the UK, I encourage you to read it and learn more about this fun British Tradition.

Extra, extra:
The tallest maypole in Britain stands 88 feet in North Yorkshire.

19. Highland Games 

The Highland Games are proudly Scottish. They include competitions on hammer throwing, hill racing and tug of war – to name a few.

It incorporates culture in sports, too, organizing band performances and other affairs to go with the games. These include bagpiping and drumming, pet dressing and Highland dancing.

Extra, extra:
The largest highland games assembly in the world is the Cowal Highland Gathering held in Argyll, Scotland. It is estimated the number of guests amounts to 23,000 visitors.

20. Horse Racing 

Because horse breeding has long been part of the British legacy, it is only natural to have horse racing as an esteemed part of society. In fact, it is the second-largest spectator sport in Britain. Horse racing events include the Royal AscotGrand National and Cheltenham Festival.

Horse Racing British Traditions
British culture and traditions: Horse racing

The history of racing horses dates back to the 12th century when the English knights carried Arab horses on their way back from the Crusades. These horses, crossbred with the English horses, gave birth to the Thoroughbred horse which is the breed being used in racing in the UK.

I wrote here an article that discusses Horse racing in Britain in great detail.

Extra, extra:
Betting on horses is a popular and legal activity in the UK. The Grand National is one of the most awaited horse racing events every year.

21. Bonfire Night

Bonfire night is a celebration in Britain commemorating the failure of the plan to assassinate King James I in 1605.

This plan is known as the Gunpowder plot. One prominent member of the English Catholics who collaborated for the plan was Guy Fawkes. That is why Bonfire night is considered synonymous with Guy Fawkes Night. This event is celebrated on November 5.

Fireworks Night as a British Culture
British culture and traditions: Fireworks night

On this night, bonfires are lit and people gather to enjoy treats warmed by the fire. Fireworks also fill the night sky as different forms of entertainment keep the crowd occupied. An effigy of Guy Fawkes is burned and destroyed during the celebration.

Extra, extra:
Bonfire night is criticized for its social and environmental impact, as the celebration poses major security risks and pollution concerns.

22. Kilts and Tartans

Kilts and tartans are part of Scotland’s national costume. These are made out of locally dyed plaid woven into intricate designs.

Scottish Kilts and Tartans in Edinburgh
British culture and traditions: Scottish bagpipe player in Edinburgh, Scotland


These are fabrics with colourful backgrounds as a base. Vertical and horizontal stripes of different shades adorn the whole fabric.


These are also called big or small wraps, depending on the size of the garment. It is a small part of the tartan and is worn around the waist. A piece of the same fabric is also pinned over the shoulder.

Extra, extra:
Nowadays, kilts and tartans are worn at weddings, Highland games and ceilidh {ˈkeɪli} (a social event full of dancing, singing and storytelling.)

Read More: Edinburgh Attractions: What To Do In Edinburgh For Fun Weekend Breaks

23. British Pop Culture 

The UK has a rich pop culture that is influential not only in Britain but also in the international scene. British pop culture imports talents that transcend varied forms of media. Below are some of the most prominent contributions of Britain to the pop world:

The Beatles. They were a rock band hailing from Liverpool, England. The band is comprised of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The Beatles are responsible for the pop hits such as Blackbird and I Want to Hold Your Hand.

Harry PotterThis famous book (and film) character is the brainchild of English writer J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter is the lead character of a seven-part series that won awards and acclamations from awarding bodies and the reading public. The first book written by him is entitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Knowing and appreciating the British culture will give you a deeper and meaningful sense of Britishness on how we do things around the British Isles. It is undeniable that British traditions and celebrations make this little nation worth visiting to experience the true British vibes.

Do you have any other British culture, traditions and celebrations that you would like to add to this list?

British Culture: List of the Great Traditions and Celebrations in the UK


Everything Zany Dual Citizen Travel Blog

Everything Zany

Travel Blog

Everything Zany Travel Blog exploring the UK and beyond. Sharing travel guides, tips, history and culture. Our travel media brand is founded by travel and hotel industry expert – Ryazan Tristram, a Dual Citizen (British – Filipina) based in Birmingham, UK. Everything Zany is a reputable and award-winning travel blog. Our work and contributions have been featured in Huffington Post, CNBC, Discovery Channel, GMA, Readers Digest, and Lonely Planet. Our missions are to build a great travel community and resource of travel tips, visas and travel guides for travellers. Join us as we travel around the UK and beyond with a mission to share the best of the world.

14 thoughts on “British Culture: 23 Great Traditions and Celebrations in the UK”

  1. This is truly a great read for me!! Once again, thanks for the quality articles you post on your blog!! That is very interesting You definitely made my day with this awesome post. I am always searching for informative stuff like this! I will check here often for more cool stuff

  2. Absolutely fantastic post. Cheese rolling seems to be a fun event as well as risky.
    Steak is also very popular dish among English people.

  3. Hello, my name is Karen Perea and this blog was useful to do my homework thanks very much Ryazan. You do an excellent job, writing interesting topics.

  4. Hello,

    Could I suggest that your otherwise excellent list of British traditions would benefit greatly from the addition of the ‘Trooping of the Colour’ which takes place on Horseguards Parade to mark the official birthday of HMQ.

    Not only is there an interesting and useful historical narrative to be written but also some stunning photographs which would capture the very essence of ceremonial Britishness.

    If any help is required in putting together a piece on the ‘Troop’ I would be happy to assist.

  5. Thank so much for sharing this top article with us about the british traditional culture, we really enjoyed your blog so much.

  6. Amazing blog, really interesting, I loved reading it, so well written, would love to see more blogs like this in future as well.


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