Olney Pancake Race

Where: Olney, Bucks outside the Bull Hotel in the Market Square
When: Shrove Tuesday
Time: Entertainments from 10.30, Race 11.55


The Pancake Race at Olney is the best-known of its kind in the UK and beyond – there is even a “twin” event in Kansas! Competitors must be female residents of Olney but anyone can go to watch them race. The tradition supposedly began in the Fifteenth Century when a local housewife heard the ringing of the bell summoning the congregation to church while she was making her Shrove Tuesday pancakes – in a rush, she raced to church carrying her frying pan. Today the church bell ringing is still the signal for the race to begin and the competitors wear housewife costume of headscarf, skirt and apron; the course is 415 yards long and the pancakes must be tossed at the start and finish. The winner receives a kiss from the Verger at the end of the race, and a Shriving Service follows in the parish church.

Helpful Hints

You can buy tasty pancakes with traditional sugar and lemon accompaniment from a stall in the Market Square. Look out for the wall plaques marking the start and finish points, and the  sign which features the race.

There’s a false start just before the race to give photographers a chance to take a picture at the off, then get to the finish line to watch the end of the race.

In 2018 Shrove Tuesday falls on 13th February.

Click here for the event website: http://olneypancakerace.org

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