This is an excerpt from Lonely Planet's A Year of Festivals.
Location: The Greyhound, Tinsley Green, England
Date: Good Friday
Level of participation: 1 or 5 – if your thumb is in marble shape you can compete; otherwise, simply marvel at the marble maestros
You probably played marbles as a kid but did your parents ever tell you that if you knuckled down and worked on your tolleys you could be a world champion? The championships are held each year in the car park of this West Sussex pub – the Wembley of marbles – when around 140 competitors vie for championship honours inside a 6ft concrete circle.
It might sound like a lark but it’s no gimmick; the championships have been held here since 1932. Competition marbles sees 49 of the glass balls placed in the ring and the first person or team to knock 25 out of the ring with their tolley (shooting marble) goes through to the next round. The event has attracted players from Continental Europe and the USA, with German teams winning a couple of world titles, something the Britons ruefully blame on their own excessive alcohol intake.
Essentials: Teams consist of six players, so you might need to rustle up five marble mates to partake. The marbles season around Sussex begins on Ash Wednesday if you’re looking to get match hardened. Tinsley Green is right beside Gatwick Airport if you’re planning a grand international entrance.
Local attractions: The Millennium Seed Bank, which plans to collect seeds from the world’s wild plants, is around 10km from Tinsley Green.
More info: www.greyhoundmarbles.com
See more festivals in April here.
This article was first published in December 2010 and was refreshed in March 2013.
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