Top 20 Weirdest Festivals in the World
|Weirdest and Most Bizarre Festivals in the World - Illustration. Photo: Mixi's|
|Table of Content|
Ever thought making a baby cry, wrestling with your toe or even chasing after cheese would become a widely celebrated festival?
Think again! Some annual events are born from traditional customs or religious rituals, whereas, others emerge from social media trends or even out of sheer boredom.
Check out our top 20 for the most unusual, unique festivals from around the world that you never thought existed and make sure to add them to your itinerary if you’re in the city around that time of year.
What Are The Most Bizzare Festivals in the World?
1. World El Colacho, Spain
Baby Jumping Festival falls right up your alley among the top unusual festivals around the world. The festival takes place annually to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi. During the El Salto del Colacho (Devil’s Jump), men dressed as the Devil wear red and yellow suits holding whips and oversized castanets to jump over babies who lie on the mattresses in the street.
The 1600s cultural festival is believed to ward off evil spirits, ensuring a safe passage through life. Though it was originally only a local custom, people from around the region have started bringing their babies to be blessed in this unusual ritual in recent years.
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2. Kanamara Matsuri, Japan
Every year, people from the town of Kawasaki in Japan take part in a festival, The Shinto Kanamara Matsuri. The penis, as the central theme of the event, is reflected in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, and a mikoshi parade.
The Kanamara Matsuri is centered around a local penis-venerating shrine once popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection from sexually transmitted diseases. It is said that there are also divine protections for business prosperity and for the clan’s prosperity; and for easy delivery, marriage, and married-couple harmony.
There is also a legend of a sharp-toothed demon (vagina dentata) that hid inside the vagina of a young woman and castrated two young men on their wedding nights. As a result, the young woman sought help from a blacksmith, who fashioned an iron phallus to break the demon’s teeth, which lead to the enshrinement of the item.
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3. Hadaka Matsuri, Japan
|Photo: Tourism of ALL JAPAN x TOKYO|
A Hadaka Matsuri is a type of Japanese festival, or matsuri, in which participants wear a minimum amount of clothing; usually just a Japanese loincloth (called fundoshi), sometimes with a short happi coat, and rarely completely naked. This festivals are held in dozens of places throughout Japan every year, usually in the summer or winter. The most famous festival is the Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri held in Okayama, where the festival originated. Dating back 500 years, over 9,000 men participate in the Naked Festival – Hadaka Matsuri – every year in Okayama, Japan. Every year, over 9,000 men participate in this festival.
A Shinto priest throws a pair of lucky sticks into the crowd at midnight and the men must duke it out until a winner finally secures them in his grasp. Tradition dictates that if the winning man puts the sticks into a wooden box with rice, he will be happy the whole year. This is a highly valued tradition in Okayama.
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4. International Hair Freezing Contest, Canada
Winters in the North are extremely harsh that you wouldn’t imagine stepping outside without headwear in case your hair freezes! Yet Canada has managed to dedicate an entire festival to creating the most bizarre frozen hair sculptures.
Every year, the town of Whitehorse, Yukon holds the International Hair Freezing Contest. The annual competition involves contestants soaking their head in the water, and when lifted the cold temperatures outside will slowly start to sculpt icy coiffures. This unusual festival is held in February and the winners are announced in March.
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5. Wife-Carrying Championship, Finland
Inspired by a gang of thieves that was notorious for stealing women from villages in the late 1800s, the Wife-Carrying Championship undoubtedly boasts some honourable roots. First introduced in Sonkajarvi, Finland – this sport expects competitors to carry their female companions through a special obstacle track in the fastest time.
Running downhill with a woman squeezing your head between her thighs probably doesn’t sound like the ideal way to spend a hot afternoon, but when the light at the end of the tunnel (the grand prize) is your wife’s weight in beer – you will certainly want to ‘run for your wife’!
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6. Air Guitar World Championship, Oulu
|Photo: Helsinki Times|
Every year, the world’s most skilled invisible instrument artists flock to Finland to perform for the Air Guitar World Championship.
Participants gear up to play an imaginary rock or heavy metal-style electric guitar and are often coupled with loud singing and dancing. The one-of-a-kind festival which began in 1996 to promote world peace is today amongst the top battled competitions popular in Europe, Australia, USA, Japan, UK, Canada and New Zealand.
7. Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korean
Originally created in 1998 as a marketing scheme to promote “mud cosmetics” – this South Korean festival has since attracted over 2.2 million visitors annually. The mud is taken from the surrounding mud flats and taken to the Daecheon beach area where folks can participate in activities such as mud massages, mud skiing, mud prison, and a mud military training.
8. Water Gun Festival, South Korea
|Photo: HaB Korea|
The Water Gun Festival in the Sinchon district of Seoul, South Korea will take your summer spirits to a whole new level. The festival that originated with the purpose to beat the heat has now transformed into one of the most popular summer festivals in the city!
Participants get to engage in a series of water battle activities along with witnessing an array of special events including power-packed music performances, street dancing and lots more making it the ultimate place to visit with your family and friends to party the hot summer away.
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9. Running of the Bulls, Pamplona, Spain
|Photo: The Atlantic|
Pamplona's famous running of bulls which takes place during the San Fermin festival is one of the most extreme adrenaline-pumping events held in Spain! Taking place in July of every year, this experience welcomes hundreds of thrill-seekers from all over the world to run in front of six wild powerful bulls (plus six steers) through the city’s old and narrow streets. In the mornings, the bull runs and in the evening visitors get to witness bullfights.
The rest of the time involves food, drinks and other engaging performances. Among all of Spain’s insane festivals, this by far is one of the most controversial yet popular events known worldwide.
10. Monkey Buffet Festival, Thailand
|Photo: Hội Kỷ lục gia Việt Nam|
The Monkey Buffet Festival is held annually in Thailand to promote tourism. While one might think this festival is a buffet of monkeys, it is actually a buffet for monkeys. The macaque monkey population in Lopburi is so large, it would be considered a pest in nearly any other part of the world. In Lopburi, however, they are revered.
Thought to be the descendants of a monkey warrior, the locals believe the macaque monkeys bring good fortune, and are allowed to roam freely among the people. To honour these so-called good-luck monkeys, a festival is thrown every year with over 2,000 kilograms of fruits, vegetables and other monkey-friendly treats for the animals to enjoy.
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11. Cat Food Festival
The Cat Food Festival held annually in Cañete , south of Lima , the day of Santa Ifigenia , protective black art . The festival takes place in the month of September , sacrificing himself for the occasion about fifty cats .
In the same preparations are different dishes with cat meat , such as schnitzel , huacatay or greaves . Animals are bred and fattened especially for human consumption.
According to popular belief, the cat meat has properties aphrodisiac and prevent ailments in the bronchi.
12. Festival of the Horns - Festa del Cornuto
Has your wife or girlfriend ever cheated on you? If so, this festival may be of some interest. Every year, Rocca Canterano, a city outside of Rome, celebrates Festa del Cornuto — Festival of the Horns. In Italian culture, the horns represent a man who has been cheated on. The association is said to date back o the Roman Empire. Many warriors left for battle for extended periods of time. Upon their return, they were given a pair of horns as a gift.
However, when they returned to their homes, they often found their wives had left them for other men. So the term “cornuto” began to refer to a man who has been cheated on. In Rocca Canterano, men who have been wronged by their better halves march through the streets, sometimes weeping or breaking objects given to them by their former lovers. The parade is meant to honour and console the men.
13. Roswell UFO Festival
|Photo: Travel Portland|
The Roswell UFO incident, also known as Roswell, was a report of an object that crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in June or July 1947, allegedly an extra-terrestrial spacecraft and its alien occupants. The Roswell Army Air Field was quoted as saying a “flying disk” had been recovered from the scene. The following day, the statement was retracted and changed to say a weather balloon was what was found. This sparked immediate controversy among the population, who most certainly believed aliens had landed and the government was attempting a coverup.
Over 60 years later, the debate continues. To celebrate their belief that aliens have landed on earth in the city of Roswell, there is an annual parade where patrons can dress up in alien-like costumes and attend brief conferences given by alien experts and authors. However, these alien activists don’t discriminate. Non-believers of the alien theory are also welcome to enjoy the festivities and dress up.
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14. Cheese-Rolling Festival, England
Locals and tourists travel down to Cooper’s Hill situated in the South West England Gloucester region to watch the most unique competition of participants launching down the hill to chase a nine-pound round cheese. The first person to cross the finish line is the winner and gets to keep the cheese as their price.
Initially, the goal of the festival was to catch the rolling cheese before it reaches the bottom however, the rules changed considering how quickly it gains speed which becomes difficult and dangerous for the players as well.
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15. Busójárás, Mohács, Hungary
|Photo: Souper Apartments|
Busójárás is Hungary’s wildest festival. With a blend of pagan rituals, folk dancing and devilish masks, the rowdy carnival is held in the small town of Mohács to scare off the last days of winter. It is also seen as a celebration of the local Croatian minority. The festival re-enacts the 16th-century Battle of Mohacs where hundreds of busós (locals wearing scary-looking masks) arrive in rowboats to march their way through the streets in horse-drawn carriages.
Apart from the main festival, there are many interactive themed activities to engage in along with plenty of spiced wine and pálinka (traditional fruit brandy) to fight against the harsh chilly climate.
16. Día de los Muertos, Mexico
|Photo: Travel + Leisure México|
Day of the Dead Festival as the name implies is a day dedicated to those who have passed away. The traditional holiday held in Mexico during November carries a lot of visual similarities to Halloween.
During this period, family and friends gather together to pray and remember the members who have died. It is believed that during this brief period the souls of the dead are awakened and return to earth to feast, drink and dance with their loved ones. In turn, the living family members treat the dead as honoured guests by making the deceased’s favourite food and offerings. It is seen as a day of celebration rather than mourning.
17. Underwater Music Festival — Florida Keys
|Photo: Destination Florida Keys|
The Underwater Music Festival is held every year in the Florida Keys. Music is broadcast by local radio stations and piped underwater. Musicians dressed as mermaids and mermen join in on the fun and put on a show for all onlookers.
Many dive enthusiasts come out for the fun and food, but the festival also promotes the preservation of the Keys' coral reef ecosystem.
18. Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea
|Photo: The Straits Times|
Make your way to the UNESCO-listed Italian town of Ivera to witness a citrus battlefield where participants shoot 600,000 kgs of oranges at one another celebrating Shrove Tuesday - the city’s popular historic carnival. The battle aims at recreating the 12th-century combat between the locals and the Royal Napoleonic troops.
The teams of aranceri (orange handlers) on foot hurl oranges (representing old weapons and stones) against aranceri riding in carts (representing the tyrant's ranks). This symbolic festival held in Italy marks one of the biggest food fights in the country, making its way to the top among the list of unusual festivals held around the world.
19. Roadkill Cook Off — Marlinton, W. Va.
|Photo: Ohio Festivals|
Ever driven past some roadkill and had the urge to eat it? Well, every year in Marlinton, W. Va., you can. This roadkill cook off festival allows locals to enjoy a day of tasting strange cuisine, shopping for local crafts, tasting local wines, and enjoying live entertainment.
20. Nalukataq Festival — Barrow, Alaska
The Nalukataq festival in Barrow, Alaska, is held every June just after the spring whaling hunt is finished. The success of the whaling season determines the length of the festival, which can range anywhere from a day to longer than a week.
The most prominent activity that takes place during this festival is the blanket toss, which is when locals use sealskin tarp to literally throw people into the air.
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