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These are some of Kent's weirdest traditions

What do pirates, chimney sweeps and Boris Johnson all have in common? They all have a special place amongst some of the weirdest and most wonderful events in Kent's calendar.

We've taken a look back at some of the most unique dates our county has to offer, whether they're still going or have drifted into distant, surreal memory.

Sweeps Festival/Jack in the Green

Spare a thought for the chimney sweeps, not only have they got Dick Van Dyke's questionable portrayal in Mary Poppins to contend with, but in the old days they only got one day off a year.

Rochester marks May Day every year by taking the town back to the 1800s, filling the streets with the same performances and joy there would have been on a chimney sweep's traditional day off.

Steampunk enthusiasts are out in costume along with traditional musicians and comedians, bringing a Dickensian feel to the town.

It's also a chance to bring out Jack in the Green, a local figure covered in fake leaves. The tradition again dates back to Victorian chimney sweeps.

Rochester and Whitstable and two of the last places in the country that continue to remember the historic character.

Boxing Day dip

Picture the scene; you wake up dazed, nearly comatose, after days of eating and drinking far too much.

You could spend the day working through the leftovers, flicking through films on the telly, and seeing how much friends and family really spent on your Christmas gifts.

Or you can decide December 26 is the last good day to hit the beach for a quick dip.

If you live along the Kent coast, you're probably going to do the latter, as we saw in Deal last year.

But beware - the beach does get a bit crowded.

Hythe's Venetian fete

Want to pretend your town is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations? So does Hythe.

Despite the name, Hythe's Venetian fete is pretty far removed from the historic and architectural beauty of Venice, instead it's a chance for locals to let their creativity shine.

Schools, businesses, and sports clubs all create floats for a procession along the Hythe Military Canal every two years.

Tempted to visit? You'll have to wait. The next parade will be in 2021, but with decorated floats, live music, entertainment and fireworks, you won't want to miss it.

Edenbridge bonfire

Most towns can't get away with burning celebrities and politicians. Edenbridge can.

Each year the Bishop of the Bonfire and his choirboys lead a procession under torchlight to the local recreation ground.

There a traditional effigy of Guy Fawkes is set alight, but there's always a face from more recent times next to him.

This year it was John Bercrow, with the heads of Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson under each arm.

It was the second time the PM has been torched at Edenbridge, while the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Katie Hopkins, and Sepp Blatter have gone up in flames in previous years.

World Custard Pie Championships

Since 1967 people have been dressing up and throwing custard pies at each other in Coxheath, near Maidstone.

Taking inspiration from the late Charlie Chaplin, the World Custard Pie Championships have grown from a bit of a fun on a village green to a contest with competitors from around the globe.

Fancy dress is optional, but why wouldn't you want to go all out for this iconic Kent tradition?

The event turned 52 this year, but there was a sombre undertone after the passing of one its founders, Brian Mortimer.

Walk the plank

What started as some pirates taking a dive off a bit of scaffolding in Sheerness quickly evolved into an international competition.

Costumed participants would gather in Queenborough to walk the plank before leaping into the North Sea.

Sheerness Times Guardian reporter John Nurden, who wrote a book on the subject, said: "All sorts of people would take part, councillors were often encouraged as they were fairly hated.

"There was a set of celebrity judges who would mark the plankers on things like execution, the height of their splash, their costume and something you might call the X Factor, but the pirates called the Arrr! Factor."

Sadly the August Bank Holiday tradition sent its last planker to the murky depths in 2010, though some hope it could one day return.

Hop Hoodening

What is this hooded monstrosity?

Its a horse, sort of. Every year Canterbury Cathedral holds its Hop Hoodening, which celebrates the annual harvest.

To honour the year's labours, hops are blessed, morris dancers perform in the cathedral precincts, and the Hop Queen and her princesses give out blessed hops to Canterbury folk.

But one of the main attractions is the hoodening of a 'horse', played either by a wooden hobby horse or a galloping local.

This tradition is one Kent can claim all for itself, its origins aren't entirely certain, but its thought it came from morris dancers of old, with a possible link to Robin Hood.

Biddenden Dole

A weird tradition wouldn't be complete without a pair of conjoined twins.

The Biddenden Maids were a pair of 12th century twins joined at the shoulder and hip.

When they died they left five plots of land known as the bread and cheese lands to the village when they died.

For centuries it has become custom to hand out bread and cheese to the poor and needy in the village every Easter.

Sheppey Zulus

Another bizarre, defunct tradition from The Island.

For more than 80 years a group of men donned make up and spears to collect money at fairs, carnivals, but disbanded in 2015.

During the 1970s and 80s the Zulus ‘landed’ on Sheerness beach in carnival week, with soot and flour battles, and would ‘kidnap’ maidens for their cooking pot.

Speaking in 2015, then secretary "The Zulus were committed to raising money to help people.

"We might have looked fearsome but we all had hearts of gold.

"We never had any comments about being racist until that one occasion and then it just exploded on social media. It ruined the carnival for us that year.

"But the real problems have been in recruiting new members and coming to terms with health and safety."

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