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[1]
Official nameTowel Day
Observed byFans of the author Douglas Adams
Observancescarrying a towel throughout the day
Date25 May
Next time25 May 2024 (2024-05-25)
Related toDouglas 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.[2] On this day, fans openly 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 25 May 2001, two weeks after Adams' death on 11 May.[3]


The importance of the towel was introduced in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy original radio series in 1978. The follow-up book explained the importance of towels in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy universe in Chapter 3, using much of the same wording as the original radio series:

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.)[4]

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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]

Chris Campbell and his friends registered the domain name 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. As of 10 September 2014, the petition had received 5,373 signatures; however, the petition website is now defunct.[citation needed] On 11 March 2013, Google published an official Doodle in recognition of what would have been Douglas Adams’ 61st birthday.[11]


In Canada, Volt, a French/English television show, created a skit in which Towel Day was explained and featured.[12]

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.[13] 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[14] and Siren FM broadcast "Dean Wilkinson & the Importance of International Towel Day".[15]


In January 2012, The Huffington Post listed Towel Day as one of ten cult literary traditions.[16]


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.[17] In Washington, D.C., the Chevy Chase branch of the District of Columbia Public Library offered prizes for those who wore a towel to the library on Towel Day.[18]


On Towel Day 2015, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti sent a "Towel Day greeting" and read aloud a sample from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy from the International Space Station.[19]


Towel Day was celebrated by Briton Tim Peake on the International Space Station.[20]

As Towel Day 2016 fell during the RIPE 72 meeting, the RIPE NCC distributed a beach towel printed with an IPv6 subnet chart (from their training materials).[21]


The first SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launch used a Tesla Roadster as a test payload, emblazoned with the words "DON'T PANIC!", a reference to the phrase from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the glove compartment of the car was a copy of the book and a towel.[22]


In the year 2019, Towel Day was celebrated by Don't Panic Labs in Nebraska, U.S., by organizing a donation drive called the "Towel Day Drive" where people were asked to donate new or extremely gently used Towels to the "People's City Mission." Many people also donated money to buy towels.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Installation of the artist Uli Schuster in honour to Douglas Adams.
  2. ^ "Towel Day, Its Time Has Come". BBC. 16 May 2001. Retrieved 26 February 2008.
  3. ^ Kornblum, Janet (24 May 2001). "Hitchhiker, grab your towel and don't panic!". USA Today. Retrieved 26 February 2008.
  4. ^ Image of the page of origin for this text
  5. ^ "D. Clyde Williamson's staff page". System Toolbox. Archived from the original on 25 February 2002. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Original Towel Day proposal". System Toolbox. Archived from the original on 24 April 2002. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  7. ^ presentation of's picture archive on 24 January 2002
  8. ^ Ikke glem håndkleet! Archived 27 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine, 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. ^ "Google Doodle for Douglas Adams' 61st Birthday". 11 March 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  12. ^ TFO. Volt. Road Trip Skit for Towel Day (French/English). Produced by David Baeta. Aired 19 May 2010 Archived 29 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Radio City. Avacado. Produced by Cristina Moreano. Aired 25 May 2010[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Planet Rock. Alternative Thought Of The Day by David Haddock. Aired 25 May 2011
  15. ^ "Dean Wilkinson & the Importance of International Towel Day". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Bloomsday, Quidditch And Other Cult Literary Traditions". The Huffington Post. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  17. ^ "Haike med next på Towel Day ?". Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  18. ^ "Celebrate 'Towel Day' at the Chevy Chase Library!". District of Columbia Public Library. 22 May 2013. Archived from the original on 17 July 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  19. ^ "Towel Day greeting from the ISS". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  20. ^ @Ri_Science (25 May 2016). "When we had a chance to send something up to @astro_timpeake on the ISS, this is what we sent. Happy #TowelDay!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ "Towel day at a RIPE meeting".
  22. ^ Leonard David: Is the Tesla Roadster Flying on the Falcon Heavy's Maiden Flight Just Space Junk? In:, 5. Februar 2018.
  23. ^ Pathak, Kashika (24 May 2019). "Towel Day 2019: Don't Panic and Learn How to Pay Tribute to Douglas Adams, the Greatest Hitchhiker in Galaxy". Bee Bulletin. Retrieved 24 May 2019.

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