Festivals have long been big drawcards for travellers, and after enduring the last several years where many of the world’s most celebrated festivals were forced to cancel, many annual events are once again being organised.
Many of today’s travellers are seeking out more than simply beautiful destinations, rather they are searching for unique experiences that can be had nowhere else, and many festivals can offer those very experiences. There are of course world famous festivals such as Mardi Gras, Carnival, France’s Cannes Film Festival, and India’s Holi Festival to name a few, but then there are some crazy festivals you may have never heard of.
Crazy and unusual events around the world include such things as chasing a large wheel of cheese in Gloucester, Spain’s annual Tomatina tomato fight, America’s wild and wacky Burning Man Festival, or Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos.
But if you have a taste for really offbeat festivals, well then, you’re in luck, because a number of countries around the world have come up with some truly bizarre annual events that range anywhere from celebrating roadkill in the US to jumping over babies in Spain.
Here are 5 truly eccentric festivals around the world you may want to consider experiencing if you are eager to explore outside of your comfort zone and embrace the peculiar. Just be sure to consider purchasing travel insurance in case things get a bit too out of hand.
If you like getting dirty, then South Korea’s Boryeong Mud Festival is for you. Embrace your inner pig as you head to the coastal city of Boryeong about 3 hours south of Seoul for this roughly 2-week event held around July to August.
2023 will mark the 26th annual mud celebration where both kids and adults can take part in a wide range of events and features that focus on mud. Mud is trucked in from the local mud flats to Daecheon Beach where it is used to create a giant mud pool, mud slides, mud fountains, mud swings, mud skiing, a mud prison, and of course mud wrestling.
There is even a dedicated safe mud zone for children as well as coloured mud you can use as body paint. Not only is the mud a great way to get dirty, the local mud is also rich in natural minerals which makes it great for your skin and is used to make beauty products which are sold at the festival.
Of course, what could make mud more fun than accompanying it with fireworks and live music. The ticketed event’s final weekend is its most popular period, but local hotels generally book out well in advance so be sure to make arrangements early.
This festival involves seeing thousands of crab-eating macaques feast on a giant tea party of sorts that is set out for them every November in a bid to bring good fortune to the city and its residents.
A huge feast of food is laid out across tables with fancy red tablecloths as well large food towers being constructed. The feast includes watermelons, pineapples, various vegetables, sticky rice, a wide range of Thai desserts, and of course a lot of bananas.
The action takes place at the Phra Prang Sam Yot Temple in Lopburi which is about 3 hours north of Bangkok. The city is overrun with thousands of monkeys all year round which pester locals and tourists alike for handouts but are still cherished locally. However, it is only in late November each year where the monkeys are celebrated with such a feast.
In addition to simply watching monkeys fill their bellies and engage in food fights with one another, the festival also includes live music and dance performances, locals dressing up as monkeys, and food stalls.
Just keep in mind that the local monkeys are bold, so be sure to secure your belongings if you chose to experience this one-of-a-kind event.
A friendly battle takes place every December 28 in the town of Ibi in Eastern Spain south of Valencia. The weapons involved in this war include a mix of flour, cartons and cartons of eggs, firecrackers, and fire extinguishers.
The Flour Fight Festival, or as it is known locally Els Enfarinats, dates back centuries and celebrates Day of the Innocents which acts as the town’s version of April Fool’s Day. The festival mainly consists of local men who gather into two separate groups and stage a mock coup d’état, where one group takes control of the town and the other attempts to restore order.
Local men dress up in military attire and engage in this day-long messy battle, putting on an amusing show for both residents and travelling visitors. Throughout the day, the group seizing control of the town imposes new silly laws and collect fines from locals which is then donated to charity.
The day ends with a portion of the city looking as though it had endured a snowstorm that included eggs being dropped from the sky. The one major tip when visiting this insane festival is to never turn your back.
It can often seem like the world is soon headed for an apocalypse, but you need not wait for it to happen because you can get a taste of a post-apocalyptic world at California’s annual Wasteland Weekend. Hailed as the world’s largest post-apocalyptic festival, you can head out to the Mojave Desert of Southern California for this crazy and entertaining 5 day event.
We Aussies love our Mad Max, and the Wasteland Weekend is largely inspired by the films. In fact, Mad Max director George Miller even greeted attendees with a video message at the inaugural event. The rather young festival now attracts thousands of visitors annually.
The adult-only festival will take place at the end of September in 2023, with tickets going on sale this autumn for us Aussies. It’s a full emersion event which means you are required to play along with the post-apocalyptic theme by dressing the part and adhering to a dress code that includes dirty looking ripped clothing with earthy tones.
Attendees are encouraged to travel with friends and create so-called tribes and set up apocalyptic looking campsites, but you can simply come solo and try to make friends and join a tribe of strangers.
You can expect crazy looking vehicles that look straight out of Mad Max, fire dancing, stunt performances, live bands and DJs, food vendors, a sport known as jugger, and even a bit of burlesque.
You can’t always get your way by crying, but crying is exactly what will help babies being proclaimed winners at the annual Naki Sumo Crying Baby Festival that is held in various locations throughout Japan. The event takes place at various temples and shrines each year around the Japanese holiday known as Children’s Day which is May 5.
So what exactly does the festival involve? Two babies go head to head to see which cries first and is then declared the winner. The babies are held in the arms of large sumo wrestlers who then try various tactics such as bouncing, making noises, and making frightful faces to get their baby to cry first.
This outlandish festival dates back over 400 years with both Japanese and foreign parents submitting applications at various locations to have their baby compete in the local Naki Sumo event.
The best-known Naki Sumo Festival is held each year in Tokyo’s Asakusa district. The events across Japan are free and open for everyone to observe, however each location may slightly differ in terms of how the festival is run.
While it may seem a bit cruel to intentionally make babies cry, it is believed in Japan that a crying baby keeps evil spirits at bay and the more they cry the more resilient the baby will be, hence the winning babies being those who cry the first during the event.
This festival is also much safer than Spain’s El Colacho baby jumping festival which sees grown men leap across live babies.