There are festivals and then there are festivals. Some are incredible, others are incredibly strange; some are both. Check out these quirky and cool festivals around the world!
1. The Baby Jumping Festival (Castrillo de Murcia, Northern Spain)
El Salto del Colacho (a.k.a.’the devil’s jump’) is a week-long festival that the Brotherhood of Santísimo Sacramento de Minerva organizes to mark the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi. It culminates with men dressed as the devil jumping over newborn babies, lined up in the streets.
Why did this tradition start? Not sure, but the idea is that it cleanses babies of their original sin. Not surprisingly, the tradition dates back to 1620 when superstition still ran wild. Apparently, men often get hurt in the jumps, but never the babies.
2. Boryeong Mud Festival (Boryeong, South Korea)
If you’ve ever wanted to go mud sliding, mud skiing or jump in a mud pool, then this is the festival for you. Originally conceived as a marketing stunt for local cosmetics made with mud from the Boryeong mud flats, it’s turned into a large event attracting over two million visitors.
During the festival, there is a market running along the beach where the festival takes place, where you can buy cosmetics that use Boryeong mud, and local health clinics offer various treatments
3. Monkey Buffet Festival (Lopburi, Thailand)
As you may know, there are plenty of monkeys in Thailand and they consume anything they can get their hands on. In November each year, 4,000 kg of fruit and sweets are laid out for the monkeys around the 10th-century temples in Lopburi.
There’s also dancing, music and various other fun things happening—definitively the place to go if you want to monkey around. The festival was set up to attract visitors, so it’s not rooted in any kind of tradition.
4. La Tomatina (Buñol, Spain)
Ever fancied being in a big play fight? Then this is for you. Here, thousands of visitors come together on the last Wednesday in August to throw tomatoes at one another. There are strict rules though!
5. Night of the Radishes (Oaxaca, Mexico)
If you like sculptures, especially those made of fruits and vegetables, then you should attend Noche de Rábanos (Night of the Radishes), where people compete for prizes for the best carved radishes.
This festival came about when farmers started carving radishes (a crop introduced by the Spaniards) as a way of getting customers’ attention during the Christmas market, which is held in the main square on December 23. In 1897, the city decided to create a formal competition.
6. Burning Man
If you fancy camping out in the Nevada dessert together with 70,000 other people, where you let go of all inhibitions, then this could be for you. Burning Man has, in fact, become so popular that people have arranged similar festivals all over the world.
The idea is that the participants create artwork and live performances, while connecting with one another. You live in themed camps that participants create. The burning man is a large wooden effigy, which is symbolically burnt.
There are ten guiding principles for Burning Man:
• radical inclusion
• radical self-reliance
• radical self-expression
• communal effort
• civic responsibility
• leaving no trace
7. Räbechilbi Turnip Festival (Richterswil, Switzerland)
First there was the pumpkin, then came the turnip…. Each November on the second Saturday after Halloween in Richterswil, people carve turnips to put candles in and hang them as decorations on their houses as night falls. The same night a carnival with carved vegetables, animals and musicians takes to the streets.
8. Welcoming the Cows Festivals (Switzerland)
In Urnaesch and several other towns and villages around Switzerland people celebrate the return of the cows from summer grazing in the mountains throughout September and October. During this time, many festivities (known as Alpabzug, Alpabfahrt or the Desalpe) take place. You’ll clearly have to do some research to find out what festivities you want to attend and where. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to see rural Switzerland.
9. The Songkran Festival (Thailand)
This festival is a countrywide event in April, where people take to the streets for an enormous water fight. Water pistols, buckets of water and elephants showering you in water can be expected. The kid in you will rejoice.
10. Holi (India)
Holi, or the Festival of Colors, is a Hindu spring festival in India. It unofficially starts the day before the festival, when people gather to sing and dance around bonfires. The next day, it’s a big carnival on where people smear each other with dry color powders and colored water. Some use water balloons and water guns. People also sing and dance.
11. Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme (Las Nieves, Spain)
The Near Death Festival, or Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme, is a festival to honor the patron saint of resurrection, Saint Marta De Bibarteme. It’s a relatively small festival where people who have had near death experiences in the past twelve months are carried around in coffins. I figure it would be worth it to go there just to hear the stories.
12. Moose Dropping Festival (Talkeetna, Alaska)
Have you ever considered flying around in a hot air balloon and dropping moose poop on random (or not so random) targets? No? How very strange, because every year in Talkeetna, people do just that to celebrate the state’s official animal: the moose. There are apparently some other events that take place during this festival, but the hot air balloon poop fight is the highlight.
13. Up Helly Aa (Lerwick, Shetland)
In the middle of winter, people in Scotland hold a variety of different fire festivals to mark the end of the yule season. The largest one has a torch procession in Lerwick where amateur actors (guizers) march through the town and throw their torches into a replica Viking longship that is then burnt down. Parties are held around town where performances take place. People walk around to attend the different parties.
There’s a fair number of wickedly weird and wonderful festivals around the globe; this was just a taster. There are actually so many festivals that you could take a gap year just to attend them all.