The world is full of fun and crazy people and festivals are a solid proof. Festivals can offer you extraordinary experiences and help you get to know a new country. While in most parts of the world celebrations have a few things in common (like eating, drinking and dancing), many times the similarities stop there. Humans have an affinity for celebrating the mundane. If anything, it’s a testament to every culture’s ability to enjoy a good party, no matter the reason.
This list features some of the craziest and messiest festivals ever, that comprise the height of absurdity in theme or execution, and that’s what makes them so utterly enjoyable to participate in. So, if you’re planning your holidays, check if the countries you’re visiting are having any festivals. Here are 10 of the weirdest Festivals celebrated around the world:
«La Tomatina Festival» in Buñol, Spain
The «La Tomatina Festival» is held at a Valentian town of Buñol in Spain. It’s a food fight festival that held each year in that specific town, near to Valencia. Thousand of people make their way, from all corners of the world, to fight in this “World’s Biggest Food Fight”, where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets.
Prior to 2013, 40,000 to 50,000 people crammed into this huge tomato fight, greatly expanding Buñol’s normal 9,000 person population. Since 2013, there is limited accommodation for people who come to the «La Tomatina Festival», as many people used to stay in nearby Valencia, just 38km to Buñol, and visited it by bus or train to get participated. So, official ticketing has been in place limiting the number of participants to just 20,000 lucky people.
In preparation for the dirty mess that will ensue, shopkeepers use huge plastic covers on their storefronts in order to protect them from the carnage.
«Monkey Buffet Festival», Thailand
The «Monkey Buffet Festival» is a celebration that takes place in Thailand and it’s held every November 25th. The local peoples believe that monkeys bring good fortune to the visitors. It has been held done since 1989, and it main public are the tourist from different parts, which offers about 4000 kilograms of food and drinks every year. It has also representative music and dances and different activities throw-out the day with young people dress like monkeys, as a shown of thanks because of they great value.
The «Monkey Buffet Festival» is the ingenious concept of a hotelier, Yongyuth Kitwattananusont, who first feted the monkeys in 1989. Now, with the sponsorship of Thailand’s Tourism Authority, his spectacle attracts thousands of tourists. Yongyuth attempts to outdo himself each year.
«Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme», Spain
The «Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme», also known as the «Festival of Near Death Experiences», is a slightly odd festival to say the least. It’s held in a small Spanish village, that borders Portugal – Las Nieves, Pontevedra, in Galicia and taking place on the 29th July.
The «Festival of Near Death Experiences», as its name suggests, is a celebration for those people who have had a near death experience and lived to tell the tale. The lucky “survivors” attend the festival in a coffin.
Even though centered around a fairly morbid theme, the festival itself is a celebration with firework displays and the usually partying that carries on well into the following day. Thousands of people line the streets of this tiny village. At 10am, the relatives of the people who narrowed escaped death are expected to carry their loved ones in coffins to the small church where there is a shrine to the Virgin Santa Marta.
«Winter Scare-away Festival», Hungary
The «Winter Scare-away Festival» takes place in Mohacs, a small town in Hungary. Locals get dressed up as strange horned monsters, swill spiced wine and wander about the place making as much noise as humanly possible to scare away the last days of winter. It is also called the «Busójárás Festival» and was first held in the 18th Century. At least 500 people, mostly men, take part in the parade.
The festival began on Feb 23 and lasts six days. Some say the festivities also give a nod to a legend when locals dressed up to drive away an invading Turkish Army. Either way it ends with the symbolic burning of a coffin and for some that means winter’s done and dusted for another year.
«Dia De Los Muertos Festival», Mexico
The «Dia De Los Muertos Festival», also known as the «Day of the Dead», is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and it’s similar to many other celebrations to honor the dead. The Spanish tradition includes festivals and parades, as well as gatherings of families at cemeteries to pray for their deceased loved ones at the end of the day.
It developed from ancient traditions among its pre-Columbian cultures. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors had been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500 – 3,000 years. The Festival that developed into the modern «Day of the Dead» fell in the 9th month of the Aztec Calendar (about the beginning of August) and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess, known as the «Lady of the Dead», corresponding to the modern La Calavera Catrina.
Originally, the Day of the Dead as such was not celebrated in northern Mexico, where it was unknown until the 20th Century, because its indigenous people had different traditions. The people and the Church rejected it as a day related to syncretizing pagan elements with Catholic Christianity. By the late 20th Century, in most regions of Mexico, practices had developed to honor dead children and infants (on November 1), and to honor deceased adults (on November 2).
«Boryeong Mud Festival», South Korea
The «Boryeong Mud Festival» is an annual festival which takes place during the summer in Boryeong, South Korea. In 1996, a range of cosmetics was produced using mud from the Boryeong mud flats. In order to promote these cosmetics, the Boryeong Mud Festival was conceived.
The first «Boryeong Mud Festival» was staged in 1998 and, by 2007, the festival attracted 2.2 million visitors to Boryeong. The mud is taken from the Boryeong mud flats, and trucked to the Daecheon beach area, where it is used as the centerpiece of the “Mud Experience Land“. Although the festival takes place over a period of around 2 weeks, it is most famous for its final weekend, which is popular with Korea’s western population.
For the period of the festival several large attractions are erected in the seafront area of Daecheon. These include a mud pool, mud slides, mud prison and mud skiing competitions. Colored mud is also produced for body painting. A large stage is erected on the beach, which is used for live music, competitions and various other visual attractions. A small market runs along the seafront selling cosmetics made using the mud from Boryeong. Various health and beauty clinics offer massages, acupuncture and other treatments utilizing the medicinal qualities of the mud. The festival is closed with a large firework display.
«Baby Jumping Festival», Spain
Anyone who has a newborn to his family can bring his baby along to this Festival, known as «El Colacho», which takes place on an annual basis since 1620. The Festival itself is part of the celebrations, held all over Spain, for the Catholic Festival of Corpus Christi.
The babies are laid on the ground and adult males, dressed as devils, jump over the infants. This is supposed to cleanse them of all evil doings.
The question of “who is protecting the babies from the example being set by the adults begs to be asked”… but who are we to doubt this traditional combination of religion and Spanish Folklore which proves to be great fun, if not a little scary to watch.
Anyone who isn’t blessed with receiving this protection, during their early childhood, and has lived life looking over their shoulder waiting for bad things to happen or illness to strike can, in their adulthood, choose to take part in an exercise of jumping through fire on 21st December in Granada, known as the Hogueras. This is intended to protect them from illness.
«Up Helly Aa Festival», Scotland
«Up Helly Aa» is a fire Festival held annually in the middle of winter to mark the end of the yule season. The event happens in the Shetland Islands of Scotland.
The current Lerwick celebration grew out of the older yule tradition of tar barrelling which took place at Christmas and New Year as well as «Up Helly Aa». Squads of young men would drag barrels of burning tar through town on sledges, making mischief. After the abolition of tar barrelling around 1874 – 1880, permission was eventually obtained for torch processions. The first yule torch procession took place in 1876. The first torch celebration on «Up Helly Aa» day took place in 1881. The following year the torchlit procession was significantly enhanced and institutionalized through a request by a Lerwick civic body to hold another «Up Helly Aa» torch procession for the visit of the Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.
There is a main guizer who is dubbed the «Jarl». There is a committee which a person must be part of for 15 years before one can be a «Jarl», and only one person is elected to this committee each year. The procession culminates in the torches being thrown into a replica Viking long-ship or galley. After the procession, the squads visit local halls (including schools, sports facilities and hotels), where private parties are held. At each hall, each squad performs its act, which may be a send-up of a popular TV show or film, a skit on local events, or singing or dancing.
«Thaipusam Festival», Malaysia
The «Thaipusam Festival» is one of the largest festival for the Hindu, celebrated by the Tamil Community. This type of celebration is performed at the Batu Caves, outside of Kuala Lumpur. Anchored by a large, colorful annual procession, Thaipusam sees Hindu devotees seeking blessings, fulfilling vows and offering thanks.
The first batch of devotees carry milk pots and wooden kavadisan, offering which symbolizes abundance and fertility to the Hindus. Some pierce their tongues with skewers and carry a wooden kavadi decorated with flowers and peacock feathers balanced on their shoulders. Of course, not all who join the Thaipusam procession commit to such extremes.
The «Thaipusam Festival» is celebrated in honor of Lord Subramaniam (also known as Lord Murugan), who represents virtue, youth and power and is the destroyer of evil. It starts in the early hours of the morning and lasts for 2 days. On the eve, the chariot procession (with the Lord Murugan statue) begins from Sri Thendayuthapani Temple to Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple. You can witness the spectacle anywhere between Tank Road and Keong Siak Road, as some lanes are closed to traffic for the occasion. Devotees will walk the 4.5 kilometers, along with relatives and friends who chant hymns and prayers to support and encourage them.
«Holi Festival of Colors», India
It’s an ancient tradition in India, which announces the arrival of Spring, the fertility, love and the triumph of good over evil. This event practically breathes the atmosphere of social merriment with its color, entertainment, and noise, accompanying the celebration. Every year, millions of people in Nepal – also around the world, too – celebrate the Hindu Festival of Holi under clouds of technicolored powder.
«Holi Festival of Colors» tied to an array of stories from Indian Mythology. One of the most popular is that of good overcoming evil in the guises of Prince Prahlad and the demon Holika.
It takes place on the last full moon of the Hindu Lunar month Phalguna. This means it can fall anywhere between late February and late March on the Gregorian Calendar. It has inspired movies, music, and a plethora of whitewashed imitations.