July 28, 2013

14 of the weirdest festivals around the world

There are some crazy people out there who come up with wacky ideas that can turn a city or a little country village into an international destination for one day a year. Here are some genius ideas that started out invariably over a pint in a pub and are now some of the weirdest festivals in the world:

MARCH

Wild Food Festival, Hokitika, New Zealand

On the West Coast of New Zealand’s south island, not a lot happens. So some clever person decided to put their town on the map by starting a festival to rival  Fear Factor. In 1990 local woman Claire Bryant, who made her own wine from gorse flower and rose petals, decided to create an event for those who wanted to taste the wild west coast. Today it is something quite stomach-turningly different. You can try horse semen shots, colostrom shooters, wasp larvae ice cream, as well as fried clams, venison, wild boar and sheep milk cheeses.

Hokitika wild food festival

1st place in the photo competition goes to Kate Veale for this one!

MAY

Cheese rolling, England

It sounds innocuous enough but is probably the most dangerous event on this list. On the May Bank Holiday in England, a group of daring (and quite possibly stupid) people from all over the world gather at the top of a 90m course on the steep and lumpy Coopers Hill near Gloucester. In front of a crowd of about 5000, wheels of cheese are set off at a bouncing pace – followed by the contestants. The winner keeps the cheese. The losers typically have broken bones and sprains.

Cheese roll race

Racing the cheese to the bottom of the hill. Pic Mike Warren/Flickr

The Redneck Games, Georgia, USA

When the media suggested that the 1996 Olypmpic Games in Atlanta would be hosted by a bunch of rednecks, the rednecks took umbrage. And action. They started their own Redneck Games which features great feats like toilet seat throwing, belly flops into a mud pit, armpit serenading and seed spitting.

Red Neck Games

Yep, it’s the redneck games. Pic Jase Pielle/Flickr

JUNE

Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race, North Yorkshire

Over a pint in a pub, local man Simon Thackray saw a plate of beef and yorkshire pudding being brought out to a table and he had a thought…. What if you made a giant pudding boat, big enough for a small person, and put them in a pond for a race. And thus it began. Competitors coat their yorkshire pudding boats (yes, the real thing made of flour, eggs and water) with yacht varnish to make them waterproof long enough for the race across the waters of Bob Pond’s in the village of Brawby.

Yorkshire pudding boat

Is this gonna float?? A competitor sits in her pudding boat

 The Baby Jumping Festival (El Colacho), Spain

If you’re a baby this is the most dangerous festival you could take part in. First held in 1620, this strange event celebrating Corpus Christi sees grown men dressed as the Devil leaping over a row of babies lying in the street. (Note: the Catholic church have distanced themselves from this event). Parents place their babies on mattresses on the road and the devil man leaps over them, thus cleansing them from evil.

el colacho spain

Close your eyes and hope for the best babies!

JULY

Cadbury Jaffa Race, Dunedin New Zealand

Dunedin’s Baldwin Street is in the Guiness Book of Records as the steepest street in the world and each year Cadbury supplies about 50,000 giant jaffas (chocolate balls coated in candy) to be rolled down the street. Spectators buy a jaffa, each of which are individually numbered, and the proceeds go to charity. The winning jaffa buyer also gets prizes. The Jaffa Race is just part of the week-long Cadbury Chocolate Carnival in Dunedin.

Cadbury jaffa race

Each Jaffa has been individually numbered!

Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea

The mud flats of Boryeong in South Korea are so rich in minerals that it is used to make high end cosmetics and sold all over the world. Apparently it has medicinal value too. So when the opportunity arises to wallow in said all-curing mud and coat yourself (and your friends) along with 10s of thousands of others, why wouldn’t you? There’s mud wrestling, mud throwing and just generally a muddy old time.

Boryeong mud festival

Wallowing in mud at the Boryeong mud festival

Wife carrying race, Finland

You’ve probably seen this one before, but this list would be remiss without it, the annual Wife Carrying Race in Finland where men throw their wives over their backs like a sack of spuds and set off through a course of obstacles, including water where many a wife’s head is dunked under as he runs. It is said to have started back in the 1800s when men were accepted into the battalion if they could prove they could steal women from neighbouring villages.

Wife carrying race

The water obstacle. Hold on tight ladies!

Moose Dropping Festival, Alaska

Another genius event to gather the locals and lure tourists (although would you?) is this festival. Moose dung is collected, dried and glazed with varnish. Each nugget is numbered and punters take a ticket in the hopes their nuggetty poo will be the winner. The droppings are then taken up in a hot air balloon (or a crane) and thrown out over a target. Yep, the closest wins. And if you don’t win, you can always buy some moose poo jewellery and other souvenirs.

Moose dropping festival

Looking for the winning moose poo. Pic Factum/blogspot

AUGUST

World Toe Wrestling Championships, Derbyshire

It started in the 1970s when founder George Burgess thought up a sport that would give England a chance to win. Bugger for him the first event was won by a Canadian. Toe Wrestling involves two opponents sitting opposite each other with their feet on a ‘toedium’. They interlock toes and wrestle trying to push their opponent’s foot to side of the frame. All proceeds go to charity.

Toe wrestling

Hard core toe wrestling. Pic Caravanum/Flickr

World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Wales

For the last 20 years crazy folk from around the world descend on this nasty bog, more like a creek of muddy pea soup, and with snorkel, flippers and mask they race along it. But the trick is you can only use your feet, no conventional arm strokes allowed, to complete two 50metre lengths of the peat bog. Usually it’s raining just to complete the picture.

Bog snorkelling, Wales

Charming. A little swim in a peat bog. Pic Ethreon/Flick

La Tomatina, Spain

Billed as the world’s biggest food fight, don’t come in your best clothes. This annual Spanish festival started accidentally after some teens in the 1940s had tomatoes thrown at them during a parade. The next year they returned bringing their own ammunition and now it’s the biggest sauce fight in the world.

tomato fight

The sensible where goggles to la tomatina. Pic puuikibeach/Flickr

NOVEMBER

Monkey Buffet Festival, Thailand

Don’t panic, it’s not as terrifying as it sounds! The monkey buffet festival is actually a party thrown for the monkeys who are the biggest tourism draw card in Lopburi. Over 600 monkeys come to feast on two tonnes of meat, fruit, ice cream and other treats at the Prang Sam Yot temple in Lopburi.

Monkey buffet Thailand

Don’t even think about taking his banana! Pic festivals-holidays.com

DECEMBER

Night of the Radishes, Mexico

Noche de Rábanos is a kind of folk art competition that started in the 16th century, but since 1897 it’s been an annual event. Radish growers from around the region come up with elaborate shapes and even entire scenes using the biggest radishes they can grow. It’s always held 2 days before Christmas so nativity scenes are popular, as are statues of Frida Kahlo and Day of the Dead scenes.

Night of the radishes

An eleborate radish carving. Pic travelbymexico.com

About Megan Singleton

Megan

Megan Singleton is a travel writer, blogger and radio correspondent. She's been gallivanting around the world telling stories for the last 16 years and has her suitcase always half packed (or half un-packed!) Follow along on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want to keep up with the journey!

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