Castles and stately homes may dot the landscape, but the true character of England lies in it’s eccentricities, many of which can easily be witnessed by visitors if they happen to be in the right place at the right time.

Luckily, VisitEngland.com, the official tourism body for England, is making it easy to for visitors to be in the right place at the right time with their list of the some of the most unusual events  scheduled to take place throughout England during 2010.

quirky-england-asparagus-festivalThe quirky one-of-a-kind events include the annual World Coal Carrying Championships, held on Easter Monday (April 5) in the West Yorkshire village of Gawthorpe, the Worcestershire Asparagus Festival held in the rural market town of Evesham every spring to mark the beginning of the English Asparagus season, the Annual (stinging) Nettle-Eating Contest (June 12-13) in Dorset, the World Toe Wrestling Championship (August) in Derbyshire, and the World Snail Racing Championships (July 17) in Norfork.

But the VisitEngland.com list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to England’s eccentricities and quirkiness.

A recent read of The Bradt Guide to Eccentric Britain revealed that England, with it’s unbelievable customs, daft sports and strange rituals, is really awash in quirkiness. The author, Benedict le Vay, was once a sub-editor for the Daily Mail, during which time he had the opportunity to explore and discover the full extent of Britain’s eccentricities. And uncover them he did.

eccentric-britainThe book, a must read for any traveller to England who wants to know where to expect the unexpected, provides in depth look at not only on Britain’s ongoing eccentricities but also the history of some of Britain’s oddest eccentrics. And by dividing the chapters by subject rather than geographic location, author Benedict le Vay has created a highly readable and entertaining travel guide.

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Liz Lewis is a New Zealand based writer who favors wine tasting and food markets over bungy jumping and mountain climbing.