Towel Day

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Towel Day
Towel Day 2005, Innsbruck, Austria, where, by his own account, Adams got the inspiration to write the Guide.
Official name Towel Day
Observed by fans of the author Douglas Adams
Type International
Observances carrying a towel throughout the day
Date 25 May
Next time 25 May 2016 (2016-05-25)
Frequency annual
Related to Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Towel Day is celebrated every year on 25 May as a tribute to the author Douglas Adams by his fans.[1] On this day, fans carry a towel with them, as described in Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, to demonstrate their appreciation for the books and the author. The commemoration was first held two weeks after Adams' death on 11 May 2001.[2]


The original quotation that explained the importance of towels is found in Chapter 3 of Adams' work The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost." What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is." (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)[3]
— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The emphasis on towels is a reference to Hitch-hiker's Guide to Europe by Ken Welsh, which inspired Adams' fictional guidebook and also stresses the importance of towels.[4]

The original article that began Towel Day was posted by a user "Clyde" (probably D. Clyde Williamson[5]) at "System Toolbox", a short-lived open source forum.[6]

Towel Day: A Tribute to Douglas Adams
Monday 14 May 2001 06:00am PDT

Clyde ponders the passing of an incredible mind and proposes a "Towel Day" in tribute.

Friday morning I went to breakfast at Big Boy's (mmmm, Breakfast Bar); oddly enough, we sat in booth "42" and had a good laugh about it being the answer to "Life, The Universe and Everything". Later that day, headlines flashed the news that Douglas Adams, creator of the longest trilogy in history, had died. I was stunned; it was remnicient of the loss I felt when Jim Henson died.

Douglas Adams will be missed by his fans worldwide. So that all his fans everywhere can pay tribute to this genius, I propose that two weeks after his passing (May 25, 2001) be marked as "Towel Day". All Douglas Adams fans are encouraged to carry a towel with them for the day.

Make sure that the towel is conspicous- use it as a talking point to encourage those who have never read the Hitchhiker's Guide to go pick up a copy. Wrap it around your head, use it as a weapon, soak it in nutrients- whatever you want!

Most minds in the universe are constrained to the laws of Physics; let us remember those that broke the law and got away with it.

So long Douglas, and thanks for all the fish!

Chris Campbell and his friends registered the website to promote the day, reminding people to bring their towels. Towel Day was an immediate success among fans and many people sent in pictures of themselves with their towels.[7]


Several news sources around the world have mentioned Towel Day, including the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten[8] and the television news show NRK Nyheter,[9] and National Public Radio, Los Angeles.[10]

In May 2010, an online petition was created asking Google to recognize Towel Day with either a Google Doodle or by returning search results in the Vogon language for a day.[11] As of 10 September 2014, the petition had received 5,373 signatures;[11] however, the petition website is now defunct.[12]


In Canada, Volt, a French/English television show, created a skit in which Towel Day was explained and featured.[13]

In Ecuador, Radio City, a BBC affiliated radio station, interviewed one of the organizers of Towel Day in Toronto to introduce their listeners to Towel Day.[14] The interview was in Spanish and English.


In the United Kingdom, Planet Rock aired an "Alternative Thought Of The Day" by David Haddock about Towel Day[15] and Siren FM broadcast "Dean Wilkinson & the Importance of International Towel Day".[16]


In January 2012, The Huffington Post listed Towel Day as one of ten cult literary traditions.[17]


In recognition of Towel Day, the Norwegian public transportation company Kolumbus gave away a limited number of special towels to customers. Each towel contained an RFID chip that allows a free ride on their buses and boats.[18] In Washington DC, the Chevy Chase branch of DC Public Library offered prizes for those who wore a towel to the library on Towel Day.[19]


Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti read aloud a sample from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy from the International Space Station.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Towel Day, Its Time Has Come". BBC. 2001-05-16. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  2. ^ Kornblum, Janet (2001-05-24). "Hitchhiker, grab your towel and don't panic!". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  3. ^ Image of the page of origin for this text
  4. ^ "'The Hitchhiker's Guide To Europe' by Ken Welsh and Katie Wood - the Book - Edited Entry". h2g2. 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2014-05-25. 
  5. ^ "D. Clyde Williamson's staff page". System Toolbox. Archived from the original on 2002-02-25. Retrieved 2015-05-27. 
  6. ^ "Original Towel Day proposal". System Toolbox. Archived from the original on 2002-04-24. Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  7. ^ presentation of's picture archive on 24 January 2002
  8. ^ Ikke glem håndkleet!, Aftenposten, 25 May 2007
  9. ^ Den internasjonale håndkledagen, NRK Nyheter, 23 May 2007
  10. ^ Galaxy Travelers Have Critical Tool on Display, National Public Radio, Los Angeles, 25 May 2007
  11. ^ a b "Ask Google to recognise Towel Day Petition"
  12. ^ "Petition Online has been retired". Petition Online. 
  13. ^ TFO. Volt. Road Trip Skit for Towel Day (French/English). Produced by David Baeta. Aired May 19,2010
  14. ^ Radio City. Avacado. Produced by Cristina Moreano. Aired 25 May 2010
  15. ^ Planet Rock. Alternative Thought Of The Day by David Haddock. Aired 25 May 2011
  16. ^ "Dean Wilkinson & the Importance of International Towel Day". Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  17. ^ "Bloomsday, Quidditch And Other Cult Literary Traditions". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  18. ^ "Haike med next på Towel Day ?". Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  19. ^ "Celebrate 'Towel Day' at the Chevy Chase Library!". District of Columbia Public Library. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  20. ^ "Towel Day greeting from the ISS". Retrieved 16 July 2015. 

External links[edit]