If you’re looking for an experience like no other then one of these bizarre festivals from around the world could be just the ticket. Forget your standard music line-ups and beer tents, these are the weekends away that you’ll never forget. From ice worlds to bog races, nothing is off the cards.
Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
Where: Harbin, China
When: January 5 – February 28
You may be fed up of the cold weather already but this is an event worth keeping your mittens on for. China hosts a temporary ice world for over a month at the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. The array of frozen creations range from steam trains to dinosaurs and castles to angels. If you want to enter the world of Frozen, this is your best shot!
The Festival of Near-Death Experiences
Where: Pontevedra, Spain
When: July (TBC)
If you’re looking for a crazy festival, Spain is the place to be. The Spaniards honour each and every one of their Patron Saints with a different fiesta, most of which are on the unusual side of things. Events range from La Tomatina (a huge tomato fight) to El Colacho (a ‘baby jumping’ ceremony). One of the oddest traditions, though, has to be that of Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme (The Festival of Near-Death Experiences) where people who have experienced ‘near-death’ sit in coffins and others are carried to a cemetry.
Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands
When: April 27
Koningsdag, or ‘King’s Day’, is the national celebration of the King’s birthday. The day was formerly known as ‘Queen’s Day‘ since 1885 but the title was changed when King Willem-Alexander was inaugurated in 2013. You can find the people of Amsterdam celebrating on every street and canal dressed head-to-toe in orange.
Wife-Carrying World Championships
Where: Sonkajarvi, Finland
When: July (TBC)
The origin of this bizarre practise actually comes from the not-so-fun history of ‘wife-stealing’ in the 1800’s. However, it has now been adapted to a fun and consensual sport. It’s no surprise that it has become so popular with the Finns, either, as their other famous festivals include the ‘Air Guitar Championships’ and the ‘Rubber Boot Tossing Competition’.
World Buskers Festival
Where: Christchurch, New Zealand
When: January 14 – 24
How many times have you power-walked past a busker on the way to work without a second thought? This is an opportunity to give thousands of talented buskers the attention they deserve. The festival hosts approximately 500 performances and up to 300,000 audience members. You can also find a variety of different acts from acrobats to burlesque dancers and comedians to actors.
National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Where: Elko, Nevada, United States
When: January 25 – 30
The name says it all. However, what you see is not necessarily what you get with this festival. It’s much more than an unusal combination; the event has been praised as the “most honest and openhearted festival in America.” Enjoy the beautiful juxtaposition of rough and tumble cowboys along with sweet and touching poetry.
Where: Bangkok, Thailand
When: April 13 – 15
Where the majority of the Western world celebrates the new year by drinking copious amounts of acohol, Thailand celebrates with a much fresher liquid, water. The Thai New Year revolves around a nationwide water-fight that represents cleansing one another for a new year and a fresh start. Many cities have large-scale parades, water guns are sold on every corner and elephants can even be found joining the fun in Bangkok.
Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling
Where: Brockworth, England
When: May 30
Unsurprisingly, cheese-rolling began as a relatively small-scale competition but is now a world-famous event. To put it simply, a round piece of cheese is rolled down the hill and the competitors must race after it. The aim is to catch the cheese but as it can reach a speed of up to 70mph, the first person over the line is crowned the winner. (And, of course, they get to keep the cheese too).
World Bodypainting Festival
Where: Portschach, Austria
When: June 27 – July 3
If you fancy something colourful, look no further! The World Bodypainting Festival attracts thousands of visitors as well as bodypainters and artists from many different nations. There are various categories to see, from the type of sponge or painting style to the theme chosen. Whatever body of art you see, you can guarantee it to be colourful, artistic and often shocking.
Boryeong Mud Festival
Where: Boryeong, South Korea
When: July 18 – 27
Unlike many of the other festivals, this event doesn’t have any historical origins. In fact, a cosmetic company included ‘Boryeong Mud’ as one of its product’s ingredients and soon after launched the promotional festival. Although it was originally created so that consumers could try the cosmetic advantages of the mud in person, it seems to have turned into a huge brawl instead. The festival even has mud slides, mud prisons and mud pools.
Where: Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
When: August (TBC)
There’s little rhyme nor reason behind the events of Bog Snorkelling. It’s dirty, smelly and strange but why not!? Only in Wales!
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