The most unusual festivals around the world

01 Mar 2019

 

If someone asks you to name a festival that you’d like to go to, chances are you’ll choose a music festival either in the UK or abroad. But what about thinking outside the box? We thought we’d find some of the most unusual festivals known for being… well, a bit weird.

Busójárás Festival - Hungary

28th February - 5 March 2019

Busojaras Festival, Hungary
Photo by Danubius Hotels

Busojaras Festival, Hungary
Photo by Bored Panda

Busójárás is a traditional Hungarian festival that takes place every year in March and started 500 years ago. According to legend, the festival was first made to celebrate two things; a successful attempt by the Mohacs to scare away invading Turks and to scare away winter and welcome the arrival of spring. Nowadays, the festival is only reenacted to scare away the colder weather and to bring in spring.

 

Busójárás translates to ‘Busó-walking’. Busós are local men who wear scary masks and represent a group of historic local men who took back their home. Today, the Busós take over the town, drink and playfully chase people.

 

The festival is officially recognised by UNESCO on their list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and more than just a social event.

 

Find out more

 

International hair freezing contest – Yukon, Canada

February 2019

Hair Freezing Festival, Yukon, Canads
Photo by Takhini Hot Pools

Hair Freezing Contest, Yukon, Canada
One of 2018's winners. Photo by Arizona Daily Star


The International Hair Freezing Contest in Yukon, Canada sounds really cool… and we mean that in two ways. Not only is it very interesting, it is LITERALLY ice cool.

 

The aim of the contest is pretty simple; to freeze your hair in the most creative shapes and styles as possible. There’s only one entry requirement for the contest too… to have hair… which seems pretty obvious to us!

 

There are some hints and tips we found for any entrants to the contest. These are:

 

Step one: Visit Takhini Hot Springs when it’s cold (preferably -20 degrees C or colder). If it’s any warmer it will just take longer for your hair to freeze… and who wants to sit in a swimming costume or trunks for even longer in that kind of weather?!

 

Step two: Dip your head in the hot springs and wet your hair.

 

Step three: Take your head out of the hot springs and let your hair slowly freeze in the cold air. Thing is… ALL wet hair will eventually freeze, including your eyebrows, any facial hair and even your eyelashes!

 

Step four: Keep your ears warm! As much as you’ll want your hair to freeze, we highly doubt freezing your ears is a good idea. Try to keep your hair away from your ears because you won’t be able to keep them warm if they’re covered in frozen hair, and it’ll just make the contest unpleasant for you. Periodically dip each ear in the warm water to make sure they don’t freeze.

 

Step 5: Wait, wait and wait some more…

 

Step 6: When your hair begins to freeze, slowly mould it into the desired shape.

 

And there you have it! A fool proof way to win Canada’s International Hair Freezing Contest.

 

Find out more

 

Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling - UK

27th May 2019

Cheese Rolling Festival, Gloucestershire, UK
Photo by SoGlos

We’ve all dropped coins and had to frantically run after them, hoping you don’t lose them. But, have you ever thrown yourself down a hill in pursuit of a wheel of cheese? No… we haven’t either… but people do!

 

In Gloucestershire, England it’s an annual event! Cooper’s Hill is taken over in May every year as a loyal and excited crowd cheer on fierce competitors who chase an 8lb wheel of Double Gloucester down the hill as fast as they can.

In reality, the cheese can never be caught. With a short head start, the cheese soon reaches a high speed, so the winner is the first person to cross the finish line at the bottom of the hill, regardless of whether they caught the cheese or not.

 

The event hasn’t always gone smoothly. As you can imagine, running down a steep hill can potentially cause some injuries, and it was officially cancelled in 2010. However, lots of competitors and fans loved the event so much that they continue to run it to this day.

 

You’d have thought that for all this, you’d get a pretty great prize right? Well… you do in fact just win the wheel of cheese… and of course the coveted title of Cheese Roll Champion!

Find out more


Baby Jumping Fiesta - Spain

23rd June 2019

Baby Jumping Festival, Spain
Photo by Slate

Baby Jumping Festival, Spain
Photo by The Guardian and China Daily

Yes, you read that correctly… people genuinely jump over babies in Castrillo de Murcia, Spain.

This festival has been around since the 1620s and is part of the Catholic festival of Corpus Christi (which directly translates to Body of Christ).

 

During the event, numerous newborn babies are laid on the ground in swaddling clothing as adult men dressed as devils jump over them. The motive of the festival is to purify the souls of the babies and protect them from any future sins they commit.

 

The festival originated from a mix of Spanish religion and folklore. Spain is known for its uncommon festivals including bullfighting and throwing tomatoes at each other (more on this later), however, as much as this may sound like a horrible event with the potential to harm kids, it is actually celebrated as an event to be undertaken by many.

 

Find out more


Underwater Music Festival - Florida, USA

6th - 7th July 2019


 


 

 


 

Underwater Music Festival, Florida, USA

Florida’s underwater music festival is held annually on the Saturday after America’s Independence Day at Looe Key Reef in Florida, North America's only living coral reef. Founded by Bill Becker, the idea of the festival is not for entertainment, but also to raise awareness of the preservation of coral reefs around the world.

 

This festival sounds a bit like a real life A Little Mermaid (and we love it). Ocean themed songs are played through underwater speakers hung from boats floating on the reef. You can also expect to see mermaids swimming and dancing around underwater musicians playing underwater themed surreal instruments including the trom-bonefish and the fluke-a-lele.

 

Bit of a science-y bit here - sound travels through water 4.3 times faster than it does through air which makes for a very unique experience. Hundreds of divers and snorkelers gather for the event, as the music vibes can not only be listened to with your ears, but felt with your whole body!

 

Find out more


La Tomatina - Spain

28th August 2019




La Tomatina Festival, Spain
Photo by Tapas Revoltion

Who hasn’t always wanted to throw mushy tomatoes at people while on holiday? It can’t be just us…

 

Well you can! Visit Spain during La Tomatina and you have one hour to crush and throw as many tomatoes as you like, at anyone you like.

 

The festival started in 1944 or 1945 and has become a strong tradition in Brunol, a town approximately 38 km away from Valencia. Apparently, no one really knows exactly how it really started, however possible theories include a local food fight, a juvenile class war, bystanders throwing tomatoes at a passing parade, a practical joke on a bad musician and the aftermath of an archaic lorry spillage.

 

Another popular theory is that angry townspeople threw tomatoes at councilmen during a town celebration, but whatever actually happened to begin the festival, town residents enjoyed it so much they did it again the following year and still do.

 

The festival was banned during the Spanish State period as it had no religious significance, but was later brought back in the 1970s. The festival is now in honour of the town’s patron saints - Luis Bertran and the Virgin Mary.

 

On the day of the event, many trucks haul in kilos and kilos of tomatoes, ready for the festival to begin at 1pm. Technically, the event doesn't begin until one brave participant climbs to the top of a two story high greased-up wooden pole and reaches a ham at the top (yes, an actual ham joint). This process usually takes a very long time and the festival starts despite no one actually reaching the meaty prize.

 

The signal for the beginning of the fight is the firing of water cannons, and the chaos begins. Once it has begun, the battle is generally every man (or woman) for themselves.

 

There are a few rules for taking part in La Tomatina:

  • Do not bring bottles or hard objects as they can cause accidents and hurt other participants
  • Do not rip other people's t-shirts or clothing
  • You must squash the tomatoes before throwing them as this reduces the impact
  • Ensure you keep a safe distance from the lorries
  • As soon as you hear the second shot, you must stop throwing tomatoes

 

Other than that, you’re free go crazy, throw a tomato or 50 and enjoy yourself!

 

Find out more


World Toe Wrestling Championship - UK

22 June 2019

World Toe Wrestling Championships, UK
Photo by Bernard

Ok this one is a bit too much for us…

 

The World Toe Wrestling Championships is as strange as it sounds. Men and women with the strongest toes in the land compete to become world champion in this annual event in Derbyshire, England.

 

If you want to watch people remove their shoes and socks and battle each other to pin down their feet, then be our guest, but we think we’ll give this one a miss.




Starting in 1976, the competition consists of 3 rounds - the first played with the right foot, the second with the left foot and the third again with the right foot. The winner then goes on to challenge someone else and you end up with a male and female winner.

 

Find out more


Air Guitar World Championships - Finland

21st - 23rd August 2019

 

 

If you can’t play the guitar but have always wanted to, without actually taking the time and putting in the effort to learn it, then we’ve got just the thing for you!

 

The Air Guitar World Championships is held in Finland each year, and it doesn’t disappoint.

 

Artists flock from all over the world to show off their air guitar skills in front of a panel of judges and thousands of spectators, and at the end of the tournament one is crowned champion!

 

You may think this is just people throwing themselves around a stage (and in theory it is), but you have to admire the effort gone into not only the performance, but the costumes, outfits, stage decoration and even the emotion that the competitors show throughout their performance.

Air Guitar World Championships, FinlandPhoto by UnderdarkGIS

Lopburi Monkey Banquet - Thailand

24th November 2019

Monkey Feeding Banquet, Thailand
Photo by Mates Guide

150km north east of Bangkok, Thailand, Macque Monkeys have their own city and are fed huge banquets once a year… we aren’t kidding.

 

Lopburi Monkey Festival is one of the most popular festivals in Thailand. In essence, locals and visitors to the area flock to San Phra Kan shrine and Phra Prang Sam Yot shrine to watch 3000 Macque Monkeys dine like royalty on a huge buffet of fruit.

 

Red table cloths are laid out on long tables, coloured ice keeps the fresh fruit cool and tens of thousands of people watch as the monkeys tuck in. Why do they do this? In local faith, feeding the monkeys brings good luck. The festival lasts for one day and consists of 5 rounds of fresh fruit laid out ready for the monkeys to eat.

 

Strange, but very interesting!

Monkey Feeding Banquet, Thailand
Photo by Bangkok Events Calendar

Find out more

Krampusnacht - Austria and Germany

December

Krampusnacht, Germany
Photo by Festival Sherpa

Everyone knows Santa - the jolly fat man dressed in a red suit who delivers presents and brings joy to children and families all over the world.  The Germans and Austrians also have a slightly different (and admittedly terrifying) tradition…

 

Krampusnacht takes place every December and consists of people dressing up as the half goat, half demon mythical creature ‘Krampus’ and scaring the bejeebers out of kids all over the country. Krampus was created to swat and steal ‘wicked’ children and was used as a pre-emptive way of making them behave. (Seems a bit extreme!)

 

The origin of Krampus has been debated for centuries and a single link has never been discovered. The name Krampus comes from the German word Krampen which means claw, and is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology.

 

The myth of Krampus was suppressed by the church for a long time because of the demonic relation to the myth, however nowadays people celebrate both the good (St Nicholas) and the bad (Krampus). However, not everyone is so open to celebrating something seen as evil. The issue has become so notorious in some communities that psychologists and schools have had many debates on banning the creature for good!

Krampusnacht, Austria and Germany Photo by Osterreich Werbung

Find out more

 

Noche de los Rabanos (Night of the Radishes) - Mexico

23rd December 2019

Night of the Radishes, Mexico
Photo by Dodgy Knees

If you’ve got a particularly artistic flare about you, or are just really big fans of radishes you may have heard of this one… but probably not…

 

Everyone knows about the carving of pumpkins over the Halloween period, but how about the carving of radishes over the Christmas period? No, we hadn’t either…

 

Noche de los Rabanos or ‘Night of the Radishes’ in Oaxaca, Mexico is an event that goes all the way back to before 1897. This is when the then mayor turned it into an annual event, allowing artists to come back year after year and perfect their radish carving skills.

Night of the Radishes, Mexico Photo by David P Ball

Night of the Radishes, Mexico
Photo by Flickr

These aren't your standard radishes though. The radishes used in this festival are specially grown to be larger than your usual radish, some being up to 50cm long and 3kg in weight! They’re harvested around the 18th December, giving artists 5 days to come up with and carve the perfect design. Some of them really are amazing, especially as they’re carved in a vegetable!

 

The radishes start to brown after a few hours but they are kept on display for a few days and really bring the town to life over Christmas!

 

Find out more

 

Visiting a festival this year?

 

Back to top