The 16 weirdest festivals around the world

Curated by BuffaloTripOctober 7, 2015 Viewed: 1322

As Weimar in Germany gets ready to celebrate onions, we look at the world's quirky, colourful – and downright bizarre – events. They may not be to everyone's taste, but here is a selection of some of the unusual festivals that take place around the globe.

The Baby Jumping Festival (El Colacho)

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El Salto del Colacho – “the devil’s jump” – sees men dressed as the spirit of evil leaping over new-born babies lying in the street in Castrillo de Murcia, northern Spain. The small village has held the performance since 1620, to mark the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi, which takes place in May or June.

Cheese Rolling, UK

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This popular festival involves hundreds of contestants chasing a wheel of cheese down steep, muddy Coopers Hill in Gloucestershire. The next round takes place on May 30 2016:

Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea

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First staged in 1998, the Boryeong - commonly known as Daecheon - Mud Festival now attracts more than a million visitors to the South Korean city. Said to be rich in minerals, the mud for the festival is trucked in to Daecheon Beach for tourists and locals to enjoy. Activities at the festival include coloured body painting, "mud flat training", and face painting with mud cosmetics.

Camel Wrestling Championship, Turkey

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Often found in the Aegean region in Turkey, camel wrestling involves two camels butting each other until one gives in or is pinned down, with championships held annually in January in Selcuk. Often the loser will run into the crowd of spectators causing panic as onlookers try not to get trampled. There are thought to be 1,200 camel wrestlers (or Tulu) in Turkey, bred specially for the competitions.

Wife Carrying World Championships, Finland

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The annual celebration of this rather special sport, in Sonkajärvi, central Finland, will test marital bonds to the maximum. Eukonkanto – wife-carrying in Finnish – requires husbands to carry their wives along a 253.5 metre long course. One of the course rules stipulates that “All the participants must have fun”. That might be the harder one to remember half way through the icy pool, one of the obstacles along the way. Similar events have now sprung up around the world. The website features an essential guide: 'How to Become a Master in Wife Carrying'.

Monkey Buffet Festival Thailand 

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Any visitor to Thailand will have seen the rapacious appetites of the monkeys that haunt the country’s temples and streets. At Lopburi, north of Bangkok, their capacity to demolish any quantity of fruit and vegetables is celebrated every November, when 4,000kg of bananas, apples, cakes and sweets are laid out for them around a complex of 10th century temples. For the less simian, there is music, dancing, monkey costumes and sculptures.

Read more: Thailand essential travel guide

La Tomatina, Spain

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The industrial town of Buñol in Valencia welcomes 20,000 visitors to throw tomatoes at one another in an oversized food fight every year on the last Wednesday in August. There are differing theories as to how it began, one suggesting that it stems from anti-Franco protests in 1945.

Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri, Japan 

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A priest throws a pair of lucky sacred sticks – shingi – from a height of four metres at the Saidai-ji Temple in the city of Nara. Nine thousand men, each naked except for a skimpy loin cloth, scrabble to grab them, so as to place them in a box filled with rice – the masu – to be granted a year of happiness. The festival – which takes place on the third Saturday in February – originated some 500 years ago, and is, we imagine, a rather hot and sticky affair. 

Read more: Tokyo travel guide

Noche de Rábanos (Night of the Radishes), Mexico

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In the 16th century, after radishes were brought to the Americas, vegetable sellers used to make sculptures of radishes to advertise in the markets. Since 1897 the custom has been celebrated with an annual festival in Oaxaca, the "Night of the Radishes, on December 23, with the best sculptors awarded cash prizes.

Ivrea Orange Festival, Italy

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The Battle of the Oranges takes place every February in the town of Ivrea, during which residents re-enact an ancient battle in medieval costume, armed only with the citrus fruit. Nine teams of orange-throwers battle against one another, while participants are fed with free beans to keep energy levels up.

Burning Man Festival, USA

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Each summer close to 50,000 hedonists gather in the Nevada desert for eight days of mayhem, culminating in the burning of a giant wooden effigy:

Räbechilbi Turnip Festival, Switzerland

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Turnips are no longer the ugly sister to sexier vegetables like asparagus and long-stem broccoli. Each November, on the second Saturday after Hallowe’en, some 30,000 kg of the humble root vegetable are carved, illuminated and hung as decorations on the houses of Richterswil village, on Lake Zurich. A parade of floats, each festooned with carved vegetables and carrying animals and musicians, makes its way through the streets after nightfall.

The Testicle Festival, US

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The Testicle Festival takes place annually at Rock Creek Lodge in Montana. It's a strictly adults-only affair: the lodge's website says that the most popular events are the "Wet T-Shirt", the "Ball Contest", the "Ball Eating Contest" and the "Undie 500." Over 21s only;

World Toe Wrestling Championships, UK 

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Toe Wrestling involves two opponents sitting opposite each other and placing their feet on a ‘toedium'. Toes interlocked, they wrestle with both feet until one contender's foot is forced to touch the side of the frame. The "sport" was invented by George Burgess, a landlord from Staffordshire, in 1976, in an attempt to find a new sport in which British people would dominate. This year it took place in June at the Bentley Brook Inn, Fenney Bentley, Derbyshire. 

Welcoming the cows festival, Switzerland


In the village of Urnaesch and across much of Switzerland, festivities - known as Alpabzug, Alpabfahrt or the Desalpe - take place throughout September and October to welcome the cows back to the valleys after their summers grazing in the highlands.

World Gurning Championships, UK

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Come and pull the ugliest face you can muster - those without teeth have an unfair advantage. The event is the highlight of the annual Egremont Crab Fair in September. As if facial contortions were not enough, there's also a Pipe Smoking Contest and Cumberland Wrestling.

World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Wales

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The next World Bog Snorkelling Championships take place in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, on August 28 2016. Competitors, many in fancy dress, battle to be the fastest to snorkel through 60ft of bog. This year saw competitors from as far as Sweden, Australia, Japan, and Canada:


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