The World’s Weird and Wonderful Festivals
The time has come to take your festival experiences from universal to unusual, unique, and totally unbelievable.
You’re the ultimate festival fanatic, but the same events year after year are starting to feel a little repetitive.
So, mix things up and take your festival game to a whole new level with our round-up of the world’s most bizarre, yet incredible (and sometimes, amusing) festivals.
This year, it’s all about bragging rights.
La Tomatina (SPAIN)
What: Each year, thousands of people make their way to the streets of Buñol to take part in the world’s biggest food fight. More than one hundred metric tonnes of overripe tomatoes are thrown, tossed and launched. Just for fun. Then, once the tomatoes run out, the cleaning process begins courtesy of fire trucks, which spray water from a Roman aqueduct.
When: The last Wednesday of August.
Where: Buñol, Valencia, Spain.
How did it start: No one knows for sure, some say it began with a food fight among friends; but La Tomatina has been a strong tradition since 1945.
Interesting fact: At around 11am, trucks haul the tomatoes to the centre of Plaza del Pueblo. The bounty of tomatoes come from Extremadura, where they are less expensive.
Price: Free, although now official ticketing means the volume of people has been reduced to just 20,000.
Boryeong Mud Festival (SOUTH KOREA)
What: This mud fight attracts millions of people from around the world every year. The event has, over time, evolved into a plethora of muddy activities. From a mud pool and mudslides to a mud prison and mud skiing competitions, the seafront area of Daecheon is transformed into one muddy haven of fun. For the more creative mud festival attendees, there’s colored mud for body painting and a large stage for live music.
Where: Boryeong, Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea.
How did it start: In 1996, cosmetics produced using mud from the Boryeong mud flats were said to be full of minerals, bentonites, and germaniums; the mud festival was conceived as a marketing vehicle for local cosmetic producers.
Interesting fact: South Koreans, never wanting to do things by halves, close the festival with a huge firework display.
Chap Olympiad (LONDON)
What: This tongue-in-cheek festival, set in the Georgian slender of Bloomsbury Square, in London’s city centre, is a celebration of all things quintessentially British. Think themed sporting events, live music and sideshows. Take note: more points will be offered for the crease in your trousers than crossing the finishing line. The ideal festival for the less sporty, more gentlemanly sorts.
When: 11 July.
Where: Bedford Square, Bloomsbury, London.
How did it start: This celebration of rakish athletic ineptitude started in 2005 with a less salubrious venue: an unnamed field.
Interesting fact: In true British tradition, the official dress code is as such: ‘Elegant finery, military wear, formal wear, dandy wear. No sportswear please except cricket whites and absolutely no denim.’
Price: General admission is £1.50.
World Bodypainting Festival (AUSTRIA)
What: Situated on the beautiful peninsula in the middle of Pörtschach, surrounded by picture-perfect Lake Wörthersee, The World Bodypainting Festival has been coined ‘The most colorful event in the world’. Artists from over 45 countries entertain visitors with their body art skills, within the open-air park referred to as ‘Bodypaint City’. Music, fashion markets, eating venues, speaker’s corner, tattooing and piercing are also on the menu.
When: 1-7 July.
Where: Portschach, Wörthersee, Carinthia, South Austria.
How did it start: The festival started on a whim by The Modern Bodypainting Art Movement.
Interesting fact: Bodypaint City stretches from the town centre via the promenade to the peninsula; and further protrudes to the public beach Promenadenbad.
Price: Tickets for 21 euros a day.
The Roswell UFO Festival (NEW MEXICO)
What: UFO enthusiasts and skeptics alike gather annually to this small desert Southwestern US town. Visitors should expect to experience guest speakers, authors, live entertainment, a costume contest, a pet costume contest and a parade – all in celebration of other worldly beings and unidentified flying objects.
When: 2 - 5 July.
Where: Roswell, New Mexico, USA.
How did it start: Steeped in extraterrestrial history, Roswell is celebrating its 20th anniversary of the UFO Festival.
Interesting fact: In 1947 the crash of a military Air Force surveillance balloon at a ranch near Roswell led to claims the crash involved an extraterrestrial spaceship.
Copyright: Photo by: CLF Creative Commons
The World Festival (GION, JAPAN)
What: One of the most famous festivals in Japan, the Gion festival is a crowded parade with streets lined in stalls selling traditional Japanese foods such as yakitori (barbecued chicken skewers) and sweets. Girls dressed in summer kimonos carry traditional purses and paper fans around Japan’s most exclusive Geisha entertainment district.
When: Japan’s longest festival runs the entire month of July.
Where: Gion, Japan.
How did it start: This ancient festival began as part of a purification ritual to appease gods thought to control fire, floods and earthquakes.
Interesting fact: Although the festival is named after Kyoto’s Gion district, the main events don’t actually take place in Gion.