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Festivals in Britain

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Festivals and Special Days

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Illustrations by Anna Tomczynska from Prywatne LO S.S. Niepokalanek w Szymanowie, a winner in the Britain Now competition

  1. Write down the dates and names of three festivals, holidays or special days which are celebrated in Poland. Compare them with a partner. How many different festivals have you got between you?
  2. Do you have a favourite? Compare your answer with a partner.
  3. Look at the pictures at the top of this page. They were produced by a Polish student to illustrate three festivals or special days which are celebrated in Britain: the Glastonbury Festival, Halloween, and Guy Fawkes Night.
  4. TheGlastonbury Festival

    It first took place in 1970 when 1,500 people met in a large field in the South West of England to listen to rock music, enjoy themselves, and spend time together in the countryside. In its early days it was seen as a festival for hippies, but now it attracts people of many types and ages who come to listen to different kinds of music. In 2000, the Glastonbury Festival was attended by over 100,000 people.

    Halloween, 31st October

    In the past, people believed that the spirits of dead people appeared on this day. Today children celebrate Halloween by dressing up as witches and ghosts and going 'trick or treating.' They go out in groups and knock on people's doors, shouting 'Trick or treat!' People usually give them sweets or small presents as a treat.

    Guy Fawkes' Night / Bonfire Night, 5th November

    In Britain, people light bonfires and let off fireworks on 5th November. Traditionally this is done to remember the time when Guy Fawkes tried (but failed) to destroy the British Houses of Parliament with gunpowder in the 17th century.
    Definitions of Halloween & Guy Fawkes' night
    from the Longman Essential Activator
    Reproduced by kind permission of Addison Wesley Longman.

  5. Here are some very brief descriptions of the three events. If you want to find out more, you can click to get a Link.
  6. Are there any similarities between these festivals and the festivals or holidays which take place in Poland?
  7. Complete the table. Under each festival, tick the boxes to show what kind of occasion it is.

Glastonbury Halloween Guy Fawkes
it has a long tradition      
it is celebrated in lots of countries      
it marks a historical event      
it is a modern festival      
young people especially enjoy it      
special food is eaten on this occasion      
it is a religious festival      
it is connected with farming & the countryside      
some people say it is too commercial      

  • Complete the table with the names of three more Polish or British festivals or special days that you know. Then, under each festival, tick the boxes to show what kind of occasion it is.
Festival 1 Festival 2 Festival 3
it has a long tradition      
it is celebrated in lots of countries      
it marks a historical event      
it is a modern festival      
young people especially enjoy it      
special food is eaten on this occasion      
it is a religious festival      
it is connected with farming & the countryside      
some people say it is too commercial      


Produced in Poland by British Council 2003. The United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.