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The weirdest festivals you should experience at least once

Posted by mandyf on November 17, 2012

Not all celebrations around the world are what many would consider traditional. Some are so down right odd that they beg to experienced at least once if possible, some over and over however depending on your tastes. Whether some of the festivals that will be explored here seem a little odd, maybe a lot odd, or just down right nuts is an individual perspective, but it doesn’t change the fact that attending any of them would certainly be a load of fun.

The World Beard and Moustache Championship will next take place in Trondheim, Norway in 2011. The event is biennial with most participating countries holding a national championship to form their team in the off years. All told their are eighteen categories to compete in with individual medals awarded in each (Gold/Silver/Bronze) as well as a team competition based on nationality. At this time the U.S. is considered the beard and moustache “superpower” having decidedly won the last competition.

How do you feel about food fights? How about one of the biggest food fights in the world held in Ivrea, Italy each year aptly named the Battle of the Oranges? A tradition in Italy dating back to the days of feudal lords was that they would dispense food, sometimes of questionable quality, to to the poor. In most cases the poor threw it back refusing to accept the handouts. This all came to a head in 1266 when the peasants rebelled. Now each year to commemorate that the town hosts a food fight consisting of only oranges that some 3,000 people take part in. Initially beans were thrown however in the 1800’s some people began throwing oranges and it caught on. Some people stand on carts to represent the guards while the rest of the people symbolize the peasants. This isn’t to be confused with Tomatina in Spain, but it is very similar.

If you think your wife is worth her weight in beer, and want to take a stab at winning a supply of beer equal to her weight then you need to take a trip to Sonkajavri, Finland. Each year an event centered around the legend of Ronkainen the Robber takes place in which men carry their wives through a 253 meter course aiming for the fastest time. Where this gets fun is the course is not some lame run over flat ground as there are hazards, including a water portion that is waist deep for most competitors. There are wooden hurdles, and plenty of little obstacles aside from having to carry your wife (or any woman over 17 and 108 pounds) to ensure this is far more fun their annual mosquito swatting contest. The race takes place each July and hotels fill up fast with some 12,000 attending last years event.

In the move Cabin Boy David Letterman said “Hey kid, ya wanna buy a monkey?” This annual festival is a bit different in that no monkey is for sale, but rather they are the guests of honor at the Monkey Buffet in Lopiburi province located about 3 hours north of Bangkok. There is not a monkey on the menu, they are the ones being fed, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 kilos of fruit and vegetables! This is held on the last weekend in November and is done because the locals believe this is a way of bringing them good fortune. It costs 30 baht to attend and you are provided a stick to gently swat away any monkeys that get unruly as some are known to be very gifted thieves stealing everything from hair clips to earrings. Also be on the watch for flying poo as monkeys that take in a lot of fiber a prone to two things; defecating, and throwing it.

Of course there are many far better known celebrations that some consider unusual such as the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, the Roswell UFO Festival, and of course the Burning Man Festival, but these are a few off the beaten path that make for a great time. As always plan in advance and let go of your normal inclination to shy away from the bizarre and just embrace the strange to have the most fun possible.


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