Bizarre Festivals

Photograph: The Mirror

Bizarre Festivals

Narrow the Bizarre Festivals selection below using the intiutive search box to the right. It works a treat. Bon voyage!

Air Guitar World Championships

Air Guitar World Championships

No guitar, never mind, take matters into your own hands — literally — at the Air Guitar World Championships. For four days each August rockers and metal-heads head to Oulu in Finland — the home of air guitar — with nary an instrument in sight. They strum, strut, thrust and pout to a crowd of enthusiastic onlookers in the hope of being crowned Air Guitar World Champion. A little tip: those in the front row beware, smashing an air guitar has been known to throw out some nasty air splinters. Rock on!

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Europe Finland Oulu Bizarre Festivals August
Angola Prison Rodeo

Angola Prison Rodeo

If you find yourself at a loose end in Louisiana come April, it may sound strange but you could do worse than go to prison. Over a weekend in April and each Sunday in October the Louisiana State Penitentiary plays host to the Angola Prison Rodeo where the protagonists are the inmates and facing down a half tonne of beef is seen as a privilege. It's a chance for prisoners to cash in and get some face time with relatives and loved ones. Events range from barrel racing, to wild cow milking, to the bust out where six bulls with riders on board are released at once with the last man standing declared the winner. A little tip for nothing: anyone asks if you'd like to participate in a round of convict poker, run like hell! A little clarification perhaps: four inmates sit around a table in the middle of the arena, a bull is released and the last man left sitting is declared the winner. High stakes indeed.

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North America United States Louisiana Angola, LA Rodeos Bizarre Festivals April
Australia Day Cockroach Races

Australia Day Cockroach Races

Aussies are mad punters. Add beer and a little sunshine to any situation and they'll come up with something to bet on. Australia Day at Brisbane's Story Bridge Hotel provides the sun and the suds. Some genius added the common household cocky to the equation. The rest is history. Welcome to the world of Cockroach Racing, aussie style. Leave your best threads at home for this one, all you'll need is a stubby holder, a pair of Blundstones and an iron constitution. And next time you spy a small black shadow dart from beneath the fridge to the pantry, don't squish him, collect him. He may be a thoroughbred and your ticket to riches down under.

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Pacific Australia Brisbane Bizarre Festivals January
Baby Cry Sumo Competition

Baby Cry Sumo Competition

During Baby-cry Sumo — or Konaki Sumo in the local tongue — sumo wrestlers face off armed with cutely-dressed infants in a contest to see which baby cries first. Shaken ever so slightly by their sumo captives and teased by priests, it's little wonder the contest ends in tears. Why you ask? A Japanese proverb has it that babies that cry grow faster. And the louder babies howl, the more blessed they are.

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Asia Japan Tokyo Bizarre Festivals Traditional Festivals April
Baby Jumping Festival (El Colacho)

Baby Jumping Festival (El Colacho)

Ever harboured a secret desire to jump a baby? Then fear not, for you are not alone. In the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia near Burgos, men dressed as the Devil (Colacho) leap babies in the street in a time-hounered ritual that forms part of the local Corpus Christi celebrations. Although it's origins are hazy, the ritual of El Colacho can be dated back 1620 and is said to cleanse the unknowing infants (who have all been born in the previous 12 months) of original sin. A balmy, baby baptism if ever we've seen one.

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Europe Spain Burgos Bizarre Festivals Religious Events June
Balls of Fire

Balls of Fire

Great balls of fire! Every August 31st in the El Salvador city of Nejapa, youths with painted faces take to the street to hurl fireballs at each other in a scene that the casual passer-by could be forgiven for interpreting as the early stages of a riot. But those in the know will tell you the mayhem at hand is a ritual, Balls of Fire (or Bolas de Fuego in local lingo), in honour of a violent volcanic eruption that took place in 1917. Personally I'd prefer to take part in an ironic water fight, but that's just me.

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Central America El Salvador Nejapa Bizarre Festivals Traditional Festivals August
Batalla Naval de Vallecas

Batalla Naval de Vallecas

Round up your friends, an eye-patch, a peg-leg and a parrott and head to Madrid's Vallecas district come July for the Batalla Naval de Vallecas — Spain's largest pirate-themed water fight. Thousands make up the moist milieu which kicks off at five and goes through to nine — but being Spain, the onset of dusk means the party's just getting started.

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Europe Spain Madrid Bizarre Festivals July
Burning Man

Burning Man

From where there was nothing, Burning Man emerges in a sandstorm of futuristic surrealism for eight days each August. Burning Man's not a festival, that's way too restrictive as a definition, rather it's a happening dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. To many, Burning Man represents an artistic utopia, a successful study of creative co-existence. It's an escape where participants are free to express themselves almost without bounds. To shed their societal skin and be whoever it is they want to be. To others, its simply the greatest show on earth, an around-the-clock party with a booming bass-line and a cast of crazy characters. Imagine the Star Wars Cantina scene re-written by Hunter S. Thompson on a binge and directed by Dali and you're coming close. At its heart, Burning Man is a happening organised by participants for participants that follows ten core principles — radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation and immediacy. Whatever you make of it, it can't be argued that the Burning Man Project is brilliantly unique. Long may it burn!

More Burning Man info...

North America United States Nevada Black Rock City, NV Art Festivals Bizarre Festivals August
Calcio Storico

Calcio Storico

Steeped in almost 500 years of tradition and described loosely as a mix between football and rugby — with a good dose of bare-knuckle boxing added to the mix — Calcio Storico is not a game for those who flinch at the site of blood. Calcio Storico can be traced back as far as February 17, 1530, although different accounts have it dating back even further. At that time Florence had been over-run by the imperial troops of Charles V and at Florence's Piazza Santa Croce a match was played between the Bianchi and the Verdi as an outward sign of contempt and provocation. Today, players still dress in authentic period costume and parade to the Piazza through the historic centre of Florence where they are introduced to the spectators and the Seigniory — usually an important guest of the city. Then the game begins. There are two teams each made up of 27 combatants. The playing field is a giant sand pit with a goal running the width of each end. There is a main referee, six linesmen and a field master who intervenes in the very likely event of fisticuffs. Each game is played out for 50 hard fought minutes with the winner being the team that has amassed the most points or 'cacce'. So amidst a colourful display of period costume, blood and team coloured smoke bombs the battle unfolds in front of thousands of cheering locals and tourists in Florence for the spectacle. The prize? Well, the winning team receives a pile of steaks of a weight equivalent to that of a white calf. I'll take mine rare with a nice drop of Barbaresco.

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Europe Italy Florence Sporting Events Bizarre Festivals June
Camel Cup

Camel Cup

As Aussie as eating a meat pie on a rainy day at the footy, the annual Camel Cup is a true slice of Australiana. Come the second Saturday in July, join 5,000 hardy revellers as they gather at Alice Spring's Blatherskite Park for a day of dromedary-based mayhem. The nine race card includes the honeymoon handicap — an event in which husbands set off atop their camel of choice before stopping mid-race to scoop up their bride. The winner, the first couple to cross the finish line. There are rickshaw races, Mr and Miss Camel Cup challenges, camel rides for the little ones and plenty of the amber nectar to grease the gears. Bring a hat, a thirst and prepare to get dusty.

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Pacific Australia Alice Springs Bizarre Festivals July
Chios Rocket War

Chios Rocket War

Churches have always been considered to be safe havens — a place where you could escape the madness outside. But come Easter in Vrontados on the Greek island of Chios, it's two local churches — the parishes of St. Mark's and Panaghia Ereithiani — at the centre of the madness. In fact, for one night a year they become targets for rocket attack during the annual Chios Rocket War or Rouketopolemos. Across a small ravine parishioners fire a volley of tens of thousands of home made rockets at each other in the hope of striking the opposing church's bell. Apparently the festivities date back to the Ottoman era. According to Vrontados lore the Rouketopolemos was earlier performed with real cannons, until the authorities of the day prohibited their use in 1889. I bet there weren't as many tourists then.

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Europe Greece Vrontados, Chios Bizarre Festivals Traditional Festivals April
Combine Demolition Derby

Combine Demolition Derby

The small Washington wheat farming community of Lind does something silly over a weekend each June. Rather than consigning their ageing combines to the scrapheap, they coax them back to life and put them to work one last time. Come Saturday afternoon, the clapped-out combines are paraded, then go head to head on a patch of Washington dirt in a lumbering battle to the death during the annual Combine Demolition Derby. As a spectacle it's probably not has high energy as it sounds but it's certainly unique and a lot of fun. The weekend is rounded out with a range of car, pick up and grain truck races, parades and a community barbecue.

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North America United States Washington Lind, WA Bizarre Festivals Community Festivals June
Compass Cup Cow Races

Compass Cup Cow Races

Come January, you'd be a flamin' gallah if ya didn't pack the esky in the back of the ute and head for Mount Compass (about an hour's drive south of Adelaide) for the annual Compass Cup — Australia's only cow races. If the idea of bovines at breakneck speed aren't enough to draw you in, there's also a ute show, an art and craft market, a concert, a farm animal zoo and a tractor pull. Dare I say, it's an udderly unique event!

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Pacific Australia Mount Compass Community Festivals Bizarre Festivals January
Cooper's Hill Cheese Roll

Cooper's Hill Cheese Roll

Cheese rolling's origins are hazy to say the least. A common presumption is that the masochistic frolic began as a pagan festival hundreds of years ago — a celebration of the onset of summer. Other theories have it relating to age-old fertility rights, the hope of a successful harvest and even as a safeguard of the Commoner's rights for the people of Cooper's Hill. Wherever it's origins it's hard to argue that cheese rolling is a sport for the outrageously courageous or at least the dangerously demented. Contestants in the Cooper's Hill event (between Gloucester, Stroud and Cheltenham in the Cotswolds) on the last Monday in May, stand precipitously at the top of a 300 yard hill, that maintains a gradient of two in one for the most part whilst a Master of Ceremonies counts them down. What follows can only be described as dairy based carnage. Broken bones are a given and sprains and bruises are numerous, as up to twenty contestants in any given race tumble and roll their way headlong down the slope in pursuit of the elusive chunk of Double Gloucester. Keeping your feet is rarely an option, contestants just seem to go with the flow, tumbling out of control like rag dolls with a death wish. Inevitably the cheese wins.

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Europe England Coopers Hill Bizarre Festivals Community Festivals May
Darwin Beer Can Regatta

Darwin Beer Can Regatta

Combine a population of just over a hundred thousand with year round temperatures that top 30 degrees Celsius and the unquestionable Australian zeal for a soothing lager and the result is one hell of a lot of empty aluminium beer cans. I'm talking Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory and those empty beer cans? Well they're the raw materials on which one of the world's most bizarre events is based. Since 1974 the Combined Lions Clubs of Darwin have promoted Darwin's Beer Can Regatta held annually on Mindil Beach. The event pits arguably the world's finest beer can boat builders against each other in a battle of seaworthiness — a very loosely-bandied term. Throw in plenty of festivities for the landlubbers — the Henley-on-Mindil bottom-less boat races along the beach, a thong (foot not under-wear) throwing competition, tug-of-wars and bathing beauty contests — and you got yourself one hell of a beach-party mate.

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Pacific Australia Darwin Bizarre Festivals July
Festival of Near Death Experiences

Festival of Near Death Experiences

Survived a near death experience in the past 12 months? Congratulations, you've earned the right to participate in one of Spain's more bizarre religious pilgrimages; la Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme. And the kicker is, you get to do it in a coffin. Come late July, thousands arrive in the tiny Galician town of Las Nieves to pay witness to a procession in honor of Saint Marta de Ribarteme, the patron saint of resurrection. Those near death survivors are loaded into coffins and travel the procession route borne by loved ones. Older men, those without family, lug their own coffins to Mass before the procession — overseen by a statue of the Virgin Santa Marta — continues on up the hill toward the local cemetery and back down to circle the Church.

More Festival of Near Death Experiences info...

Europe Spain Las Nieves Religious Events Bizarre Festivals July
Football in the River Championships

Football in the River Championships

The Windrush River is the water in the English village of Bourton-on-the-Water and for one day a year, it's also the venue for one of football's strangest fixtures. Each and every August bank holiday Monday, the local Bourton Rovers F.C. field two teams that play to a bumper crowd in the annual Football in the River Championships. Forget your nine-a-side, for ninety minutes, on a pretty pitch of green. We're talking six-a-side, for half an hour, knee deep in a bubbling brook. As a spectacle it ain't pretty but it's a great laugh and when the weather's on song, this picture-postcard, Cotswold village is a most agreeable place to be.

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Europe England Bourton-on-the-Water Bizarre Festivals Sporting Events August
Hemingway Days

Hemingway Days

Fifty Ernest Hemingways walk into a bar...This ain't no bad joke, rather a lookalike contest at the annual Hemingway Days Festival in Sloppy Joe's Bar (rumoured to be a favoured watering-hole of the rooting, tooting, shooting, bearded womaniser — who penned the occasional classic) in Key West, Florida. The six-day ode to Papa features a packed programme of Hemingway-themed shenanigans including a marlin fishing tournament and a play on Pamplona's, Running of the Bulls, in reference to Hemingway's 1926 classic, The Sun Also Rises.

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North America United States Florida Key West, FL Fan Festivals Bizarre Festivals July
Hounen Matsuri

Hounen Matsuri

You can never find a giant 12 foot phallus when you need one but then when you don't... Join the fun at the Tagata Shrine in Komaki, Japan each 15 March for the Hounen Matsuri where hundreds gather to parade such a phallus through the streets in a bizarre male fertility rite. Mix in a bunch of women wielding smaller two foot versions of the main attraction and a tempting range of phallic shaped snacks and and you got yourself one interesting anthropological study at the very least. Food for thought that!

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Asia Japan Komaki Bizarre Festivals Traditional Festivals Adults Only Festivals March
How Weird Street Faire

How Weird Street Faire

Come join thousands of aficionados of the offbeat at the annual How Weird Street Faire — a play on the name Howard Street apparently, where the faire takes place. For one day only, the How Weird Street Faire serves up a feast of electronica spread across ten stages and 13 downtown San Francisco blocks. There's also an open air art festival filling an expanded Art Alley, a unique market featuring interesting vendors and delicious food and a platform for performers of every type. Gather a gaggle of friends, dress imaginatively and head downtown for noon when eight hours of weird begins.

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North America United States California San Francisco, CA Electronic Dance Music Festivals Bizarre Festivals April
La Tomatina

La Tomatina

On the last Wednesday of August each year thousands of revellers converge on the small Spanish town of Buñol to pick a fight. What began in 1944 as a simple tomato fight between a group of friends in the town's main square — the Plaza del Pueblo — has turned into arguably the worlds largest food fight. The festivities begin in the week leading up to La Tomatina with a celebration of the towns' Patron Saint. Fireworks light the heavy summer sky while street parties warm up at ground level. Rose wine flows and the hefty scent of wood fired paella fills the air. Music plays and people dance. Come Wednesday and the Town Square is awash with travellers and locals alike. Seasoned veterans mix with wide eyed first timers as more rose wine is passed around and the excitement level grows. At around about noon, a number of trucks carrying the edible red grenades rumble their way into the main Town Square to the chant of tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes from the now drunken crowd. Chivalry slinks out of town for a while as everyone becomes fair game. Red missiles are a dime a dozen, no-one escapes. The aftermath looks a little like a latter scene in Carrie. The ground, a fantastic base for the worlds largest Bolognese sauce. As exhausted combatants trudge their way towards temporary showers put in place for the event, the cleanup begins in earnest. And within hours, the Plaza del Pueblo magically returns to its former glory.

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Europe Spain Valencia Bizarre Festivals August
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival

Looking for love in all the wrong places? Toss Tinder to the curb, get your lonely heart to Lisdoonvarna this September and prepare to come face to face with tens of thousands of potential partners. Dubbed 'Europe's Biggest Single's Event', the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival has been playing cupid for locals and visitors alike for more than 150 years. Love is in the air around the clock in Lisdoonvarna during the Matchmaking Festival but the formal (sic) dances run from 12.00 noon each day and carry on into the wee small hours of the following morn. You can dance a jig to live folk music in most pubs on any given eve but prepare to queue to get a pint of the good stuff. But in that queue may be where you meet your future husband or wife. Stranger things have happened and it makes for a better how you met story than, 'I swiped right'.

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Europe Ireland Lisdoonvarna Bizarre Festivals Community Festivals September
Louisiana Mudfest (Trucks Gone Wild)

Louisiana Mudfest (Trucks Gone Wild)

Your idea of a fab weekend gittin' down and dirty to the smell of exhaust fumes and the twang of a country and western guitar? Then the Louisiana Mudfest, Trucks Gone Wild may just be the fest for you! Monster truck, four-by-four and drag racing enthusiasts and the people who love them flock to Colfax Louisiana over a weekend each September to run amok on 300 acres of freshly ploughed mud! Why not join 'em?

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North America United States Louisiana Colfax, LA Bizarre Festivals September
Maldon Mud Race

Maldon Mud Race

Since 2001 the folk of Maldon in Essex have kept a dirty little secret. Come April each year they dress to the nines, gather in large numbers in the local Promenade Park and then make a crazed charge across the River Blackwater and back. The Maldon Mud Race is a frightfully dirty affair, as the name suggests but what better way to get yourself in shape for summer, than a mad mud dash through a freezing river! The whole bash is to raise money for local charity and there's tons of prizes up for grabs. So if you don't mind getting down and dirty, why not make a day of it.

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Europe England Maldon Bizarre Festivals Charity Events April
Mammoth Mountain Pond Skim

Mammoth Mountain Pond Skim

Join the brave and the stupid and the bravely stupid at the annual Mammoth Mountain Pond Skim. Costume clad competitors — from sumos to mariachis — gather speed on a slippery slope before attempting to traverse a semi-frozen man-made pond. The result; a wonderful spectacle for the audience and a bunch of shivering sumos and mariachis.

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North America United States California Mammoth Mountain, CA Winter Sports Events Skiing and Snowboarding Events Bizarre Festivals April
Mike the Headless Chicken Festival

Mike the Headless Chicken Festival

On the too weird scale it's hard to top the story of Mike the Headless Chicken. The year, 1945, the bird in question, a five and a half month old Wyandotte rooster who'd spent his days contentedly pecking through the dust of a Fruita, Colorado farmyard. On one fateful evening in September of that year, farmer Lloyd Olsen raised the axe and bought it down on the neck of Mike, as farmers are occasionally wont to do. But, and here's the twilight-zone-like twist, instead of running himself ragged and flopping over in a pile of poultry, Mike saw out the night. When farmer Lloyd went to gather Mike the following day, he found him sleeping with his head under his wing. Flabbergasted by Mike's overwhelming will to live, farmer Lloyd began feeding Mike grain and water via an eyedropper. And the rest is poultry folklore. In the 18 months that Mike lived as "The Headless Wonder Chicken", he grew from a mere 2.5 pounds to almost 8 pounds. Today, each and every May, people gather in the small town of Fruita, Colorado to pay homage to Mike, the most determined of fowl, during the annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival. There's a car show, tons of great music and entertainment a chicken dance contest, plenty of food and craft vendors and a five kilometre, run like a headless chicken fun run. In an ironic twist — that probably wouldn't have been lost on Mike — the festival also features a chicken eating competition. Hmmm, food for thought that.

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North America United States Colorado Fruita, CO Bizarre Festivals May
Montana Testicle Festival

Montana Testicle Festival

High on the list of the world's crazier events is the Montana Testicle Festival held in Rock Creek Lodge just outside of Clinton, Montana every summer. From it's humble beginnings over two decades ago, the Montana Testicle Festival now attracts in the region of 10,000 revellers from all walks of life for the five days of festivities. There's live music, the Testy Festy Awards, bullshit bingo, body painting, a wet t-shirt competition, a hairy chest contest, loads to drink and of course — more testys than you can poke a stick at. On the topic of testicles and why, Rod Lincoln, the creator of the Montana Testicle Festival has been quoted as saying, "it's the waste not, want not" tradition of Montana and, besides, many of the world's cultures consider testicles a delicacy. For the health conscious, he adds that "they're 70 percent or more protein, and, obviously, they're boneless." So if you've got a few days to kill in July/August why not drop in on Rod and his friends in Montana. Chances are you'll have a ball!

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North America United States Montana Missoula, MT Bizarre Festivals Food Festivals July
Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

The iconic American hot dog fittingly takes centre stage each fourth of July at Nathan's Famous flagship restaurant in Coney Island, during Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. What began as a little friendly patriotic-based rivalry between friends has grown to become a competitive eating behemoth, attracting more than a million television viewers across the country, along with a selection of the world's finest power eaters. The International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) — yes, there is such a thing — has sanctioned the event since 1997. So today, only entrants currently under contract by the IFOCE can compete in the event. Those fortunate few have ten minutes to shovel down as many hot dogs and hot dog buns as their digestive tracts can handle. Provided they stay down, the contestant who consumes the most hot dogs is declared the winner. In 2013 Joey Chestnut consumed 69 of those tasty medleys of meat to claim the men's record, whist a year earlier Sonya Thomas put away 45 to set the bar in the women's event. Pepto-Bismol anyone?

More Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest info...

North America United States New York New York City, NY Bizarre Festivals Food Festivals July
New York City SantaCon

New York City SantaCon

A slew of Santas takes to the streets of the Big Apple for a day each December for SantaCon. The reason? Well there is none, that is according to the official literature: SantaCon is a charitable, non-commercial, non-political, nonsensical, Santa Claus convention that happens once a year for absolutely no reason. Having said that, for those Santas on the ground, drinking the five boroughs dry seems quite high on the agenda. While the date is known in advance, the actual route is not divulged until the night before SantaCon (via Twitter and on the website). To participate you'll need to ensure your Christmas Worker Union dues are in (you've made your donation) and you're completely decked out, Yuletide style. No simple Santa hat will do, we're talking head to toe and the full trimmings, fat-boy!

More New York City SantaCon info...

North America United States New York New York City, NY Bizarre Festivals Christmas December
Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

The southern Thai island of Phuket serves up a smorgasbord of strange during their world-renowned, annual Vegetarian Festival. The history of the event is a little hazy, but legend has it that in the 19th century a band of travelling Chinese Opera singers visiting the island contracted malaria, a death sentence in the day. By adhering to a strict vegetarian diet and praying to the nine Emperor Gods for purification of the mind and body, they all made a miraculous recovery. To celebrate, they held a festival. Today, that event attracts thousands of visitors from near and far. Whilst there is a vegetarian element to the nine day festivities — held during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar — it's the ceremonies held to invoke the Gods that so captivate western attendees. Entranced devotees known as "Ma Song" walk barefoot over hot coals, plunge knives and skewers of all shapes and dimensions through various parts of their body and ascend ladders with bladed rungs. Even though there's very little blood, it's not an event for the squeamish. At the very least, you'll never look at a kebab the same way again.

More Phuket Vegetarian Festival info...

Asia Thailand Phuket Religious Events Bizarre Festivals October
Pittsburgh Zombie Fest

Pittsburgh Zombie Fest

Fan of the zombie film genre? Want to take that adoration to a whole new level? Join the heaving throng of half-dead as they descend Dawn of the Dead like on Monroeville Mall for the Zombie Walk. It's all part of the annual ZombieFest held in in Pittsburgh, PA. A celebration of the undead and those that hunt them. After that hunger for human flesh has been sated, why not dance it up at the Zombie Dance Party or enjoy some live tunes as some the region's best bands escape to the stage.

More Pittsburgh Zombie Fest info...

North America United States Pennsylvania Pittsburgh, PA Bizarre Festivals October
Redhead Days Festival

Redhead Days Festival

Redheads rejoice! For a weekend each September the Dutch city of Breda celebrates the world of the crimson-topped at the annual Redhead Days Festival. More than 5,000 redheads make their way to Breda for a packed programme that features fashion shows, a photo shoot, lectures on the background of red hair, an art exhibition and a movie night. Blondes, brunettes and the black-haired are also welcome.

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Europe Netherlands Breda Bizarre Festivals Family Festivals September
San Fermin

San Fermin

The event draws party-goers from near and far and although Sanfermines entails so much more to the locals, it's the Encierro — the daily running of the bulls — that the majority of the tourists are on hand to see. For a little over half a mile bull runners — clad in all white with red handkerchiefs tied around their necks — battle the cobbles of Santo Domingo en route to El Plaza del Toros whilst in pursuit are six, infuriated, agitated and totally disorientated toros. Injuries are numerous, since 1924 they've proven fatal for more than a dozen protagonists. For seven days and seven nights there's little let-up as Pamplona parties around the clock.

More San Fermin info...

Europe Spain Pamplona Traditional Festivals Bizarre Festivals July
Santa Claus World Championships (ClauWau)

Santa Claus World Championships (ClauWau)

Join Santa Clauses from around the world as they battle out it out each November in the annual Santa Claus World Championships (ClauWau) in Switzerland's, Engadin Valley. Bearded teams of Saint Nics compete in events such as the Santa Parade, Santa's Journey, Santa's Snow Sculpture and Santa's Sledge Race to decide who's the jolliest Santa of them all.

More Santa Claus World Championships (ClauWau) info...

Europe Switzerland Davos Bizarre Festivals Christmas November
Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival

Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival

For camel wrestling aficionados there's only one place to be come January; an ancient stadium at Ephesus, near the town of Selcuk, (which is near the city of Izmir) in Turkey's east. Following a ceremony not without pomp, ornately decorated camels are paraded through town to the musical strains of Turkish folk. The following day the wrestling action begins. Amidst a shower of mouth foam, two male camels (bulls) battle it out for the affections of a strategically placed female. It's not half as nasty as it sounds but its probably a lot more tactical than you'd think. Victory is achieved through a combination of leaning, tripping and butting. The winner is decided when a bull retreats, screams or falls or when the camel owner concedes, by throwing a rope into the ring.

More Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival info...

Europe Turkey Izmir Bizarre Festivals Traditional Festivals January
Singapore Vertical Marathon

Singapore Vertical Marathon

If you've got lungs the size of Luxembourg and fancy yourself on the ol' Nautilus down the local gym, then Singapore's Vertical Marathon may just be for you. At a piffling 226 metres, one of South East Asia's highest hotels, Swissôtel The Stamford in downtown Singapore City plays host to the Vertical Marathon every November. As the name implies, a vertical marathon involves dragging your butt upstairs — in this case 73 stories of 'em — as quick as humanly possible. There are categories for men and women of different age groups, teams and a corporate challenge. Which way to the lift? I'll meet you at the top.

More Singapore Vertical Marathon info...

Asia Singapore Singapore City Marathons, Triathlons and Fun Runs Bizarre Festivals November
Songkran Festival

Songkran Festival

During Songkran, Thailand's celebration of the Buddhist new year, locals and tourists alike prepare to get wet. Pump action water pistols are the weapon of choice, but buckets will suffice as the whole city, the whole country in fact, plays host to the world's largest water fight. There is literally no escape as everyone becomes fair game — policeman, vendors and particularly farangs find themselves on the wet end of a good soaking. There is a spiritual side to the water-logged festivities as Budha images at local temples are purified with a good dowsing of fragrant water and homes are cleaned in readiness to welcome friends and families to celebrate new beginnings. As Bangkok often bakes in temperatures that can climb to 40 degrees Celsius, there's got to be worse ways to ring in the new year.

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Asia Thailand Bangkok Bizarre Festivals New Year Events April
Soo I-500

Soo I-500

There may not be 300,000 in attendance like at the slightly more high-profiled Indy 500 to the south, but Michagan's own Soo I-500 has all the excitement thrills and spills of any major motor sport event — and this bad boy's on ice! Since 1969 the Fangios of the freeze have been doing their thing, hitting ridiculous speeds on their snowmobiles as they clock up 500 laps on the one mile track.

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North America United States Michigan Sault Ste. Marie, MI Motor Sports Events Bizarre Festivals February
Swamp Soccer World Cup

Swamp Soccer World Cup

In Blairmore, Scotland, teams like the "Sporting Abeergut", "Real Mudrid", "Mudchesthair United", and the "Blackbum Rovers" get down and dirty at the annual Swamp Soccer World Cup. It's mayhem and madness in the mud with a big emphasis on fun. Don't expect any Ronaldo-esque step-overs but chances are you'll see your fair share of fall-overs. Games are six-a-side, 12 minutes per half, but that's more than enough when you're trudging through a mire. Player preparation is essential. If you don't tape your boots onto your ankles, don't expect to be wearing them for too long. When that final whistle blows, it's a quick dip in the local loch and then back to the pub for a wee dram or two.

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Europe Scotland Dunoon Bizarre Festivals Sporting Events June
Tübingen Duck Race

Tübingen Duck Race

Ladies and gentlemen, start your ducks! Up to 7,000 ducks make a break for it each October in the annual Tubingen Duck Race. Not ducks of the feathered variety you must understand, rather plastic and yellow — of the bath-tub species. Thousands line the course which runs from Alleenbrucke to the finishing line at Neckarbrucke bridge. The flag drops at 2 pm but those looking to rent a duck need to be registered and at the starting line by 1 pm. Actors entertain the crowds and kids can make badges or participate in mini bungee jumping.

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Europe Germany Tübingen Bizarre Festivals October
The Battle of the Wine

The Battle of the Wine

Like your wine? Fancy a food-fight? Why not mix your hobbies at Haro's infamous, la Batalla del Vino, where wine becomes the weapon of choice? Join 10,000 locals and a growing band of fun-seeking tourists as they trudge up a mountain in La Rioja, Spain before letting loose with the good stuff from water pistols, back-mounted industrial spraying equipment, heck, anything that can hold a little vino tinto that's dispensed from the trucks on site. There's plenty of singing, dancing and cavorting which I guess is par for the course during any fest when free wine is being dispensed by the truckload. Official celebrations kick off the night before, as Haro throws a party that brings the whole town out and into her streets, bars and public spaces — from children to grandparents, it's a multi-generational affair. At the culmination of the battle, combatants take their party back down to Haro again where the main fight seems to be to one to stand upright. A little hint for nothing: keep the good threads at home unless you're looking for a handy lavender dye job.

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Europe Spain Haro Bizarre Festivals Wine Festivals June
Tinku Festival

Tinku Festival

Each May thousands of indigenous Bolivian indians descend on the isolated, mountainous city of Macha in the hope of picking a fight. The 600 year old pre-Hispanic Bolivian festival of Tinku sees villager pitted against villager in a toe to toe slug fest that doesn't stop until blood is spilt on the ground. The blood: an offering to the earth goddess — Pachamama — to ensure a good harvest for the coming year. The desired result: the more spilt, the better. Over the years dozens have died, yet the rite continues, albeit today with some limited policing. Nowadays, fighting to the death is a no-no, but not so in the past. For some of the poorest people in South America living off what they can scratch from the land, life is literally a battle.

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South America Bolivia Macha Traditional Festivals Bizarre Festivals May
Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade

Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade

In New York City's Tompkins Square Park, in the lead up to Halloween proper, our four-legged friends get the opportunity to take to the canine catwalk in their own ghoulish outfits for the annual Halloween Dog Parade. Hot dog dachshunds, pixie pugs and labrador superheroes, all strut their stuff. Cute is the order of the day. CNN calls it, "the largest dog costume parade in the world", with hundreds of decked-out dogs and thousands of spectators on hand.

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North America United States New York New York City, NY Halloween Bizarre Festivals October
Tough Mudder (Las Vegas)

Tough Mudder (Las Vegas)

Mudders or nutters? You decide! Take a peek under the hood of any one of the 50+ Tough Mudder courses worldwide and you'll discover they all have one thing in common; some seriously hard-core obstacles designed to test competitors both physically and mentally. I'm talking fire, water and mud scattered menacingly over a 10 to 12 mile course. Participants run, swim, crawl, slither and climb their way under, over and through these obstacles and if they're lucky, they get the chance for a little mild electrocution before hitting the finishing line. It's enough to make Rambo shudder. The Vegas Mudder course is a brutal, arid hell-scape engulfed by desert mountains. Strangely enough, competitor places fill fast, so ensure you get in early. Wouldn't want to miss out on that electrocution now would you?

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North America United States Nevada Las Vegas, NV Bizarre Festivals Marathons, Triathlons and Fun Runs October
Tough Mudder (Pittsburgh)

Tough Mudder (Pittsburgh)

Mudders or nutters? You decide! Take a peek under the hood of any one of the 50+ Tough Mudder courses worldwide and you'll discover they all have one thing in common; some seriously hard-core obstacles designed to test competitors both physically and mentally. I'm talking fire, water and mud scattered menacingly over a 10 to 12 mile course. Participants run, swim, crawl, slither and climb their way under, over and through these obstacles and if they're lucky, they get the chance for a little mild electrocution before hitting the finishing line. It's enough to make Rambo shudder. With 500 acres of grassy fields, densely wooded paths and winding jeep trails, the Pittsburgh Tough Mudder course is one serious section of real estate.

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North America United States Pennsylvania Pittsburgh, PA Bizarre Festivals Marathons, Triathlons and Fun Runs August
Tunarama

Tunarama

Dare I say it? Something fishy takes place each January in South Australia as fish flingers from far and wide descend on the coastal town of Port Lincoln for their annual Tunarama Festival. The Tuna Toss is the highlight of foreshore festivities, an event in which contestants throw a nine kilo tuna as far as is humanly possible.

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Pacific Australia Port Lincoln Bizarre Festivals Community Festivals January
Twins Days

Twins Days

No, you're not seeing double! Each and every August in Twinsburg, Ohio, thousands of pairs of twins gather for the annual Twins Days Festival. The event is open to all multiples — identical, fraternal, young and old, twins, triplets, quads and their families and is a celebration of all things twins. Come along and enjoy the festival and coma along and enjoy the festival.

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North America United States Ohio Twinsburg, OH Bizarre Festivals Family Festivals August
Ullr Fest

Ullr Fest

Over four frigid days in January the Colorado resort town of Breckenridge gets a little kooky during their annual Ullr Fest. Ullr — it rhymes with cooler — is the Norse God of Winter, one hell of a chilled dude and the inspiration behind this wacky collection of winter events. Highlights include the Ullympics — featuring the frying pan toss, group ski racing and the ski boot relay — the self-explanatory Ullr Ice Plunge, the Ullr Parade and the Wild and Scenic Film Festival. Rug up and prepare to party hard, it's what Ullr what would expect.

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North America United States Colorado Breckenridge, CO Winter Festivals Bizarre Festivals January
West Virginia Road Kill Cook Off and Autumn Harvest Festival

West Virginia Road Kill Cook Off and Autumn Harvest Festival

If you like your meat fresh and free-range but huntin' ain't your thing, why not check out the West Virginia Road Kill Cook Off and Autumn Harvest Festival held each September in Marlinton, West Virginia. You kill it, we grill it is their motto and items on the menu include, Thumper Meets Bumper, Spicy Smeared Deer and Bumper Bruised Bear Butt Black Bean Soup. All a bit of a mouthful. Bon Apetit!

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North America United States West Virginia Marlinton, WV Bizarre Festivals Harvest Festivals September
Wife Carrying World Championships

Wife Carrying World Championships

Like so many of the world's more bizarre events, wife carrying has it's origins buried deep in the bosom of an age old local tradition — in this case, the 19th century practice of wife stealing. Finnish men of the era were known to plunder the female populations of neighbouring local villages, taking what took their eye, caveman style. The motivation may have changed since then but the practice remains largely the same. To enter the modern day championships a wife is a necessity. Not necessarily yours. In fact any female over the age of 17 will do. To the cheers of thousands of assembled spectators, contestants — with wife on board — must negotiate a 253.5 metre course covering sand, grass and asphalt. To add a measure of difficulty to the event, two dry and two metre deep water based obstacles have been added to the mix. What for the winner? Well amongst other prizes, they get to take home their wife's weight in beer. Sobering thought that!

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Europe Finland Sonkajärvi Bizarre Festivals July
World Black Pudding Throwing Championships

World Black Pudding Throwing Championships

Black Pudding throwing has been around for...well, I'm not entirely sure to be honest. What I do know: Contestants assemble at at the Royal Oak pub to fling black puddings at a stack of Yorkshire puddings piled atop a plinth 20 feet off the ground. The rules: You can throw three competition standard six ounce puddings, underarm only. Whoever fells the most Yorkshire puddings is the winner. Why? Again, we've hit a bit of a grey area. My advice, get along and draw your own conclusions.

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Europe England Ramsbottom Bizarre Festivals September
World Bodypainting Festival

World Bodypainting Festival

Acknowledged as having founded the modern bodypainting art movement, the annual World Bodypainting Festival has been stunning guests with human works of art since 1998. Set on a picturesque peninsula in the middle of Pörtschach and framed by the turquoise waters of lake Wörthersee, the festival attracts artists from more than 45 countries and 30,000 visitors for a packed programme spanning eight days. As well as the amazing body art on display, visitors can expect body-painting seminars, the world championships in bodypainting, night contests featuring UV effects, special effects and creative makeup exhibitions, live music, DJs and fireworks displays.

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Europe Austria Pörtschach am Wörthersee Bizarre Festivals Art Festivals Nude Festivals July
World Championship of Hen Racing

World Championship of Hen Racing

When you think of the fastest card-carrying members of the animal kingdom, the cheetah, the greyhound, the thoroughbred steed, even the ostrich may spring to mind; but the chicken? Well, for one day each August at the Barley Mow Inn in the picturesque Derbyshire village of Bonsall, the humble hen takes centre stage — and the starting blocks — at the annual World Championships of Hen Racing. Whilst the speeds attained are far from breakneck, there's no arguing that for pure entertainment value alone, it's hard to go past chicken racing.

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Europe England Bonsall Bizarre Festivals August
World Conker Championships

World Conker Championships

Bonkers for conkers? Why not try your hand at the World Conker Championships held at Shuckburgh Arms in Southwick. For the uninitiated, conkers is a British schoolyard pastime in which the hard shelled fruit of the horse chestnut tree (conkers) are threaded onto a length of string. Two contestants then stand off and take it in turns swinging their conker in attempt to knock their contestants conker free. Personally I'd rather bake 'em for 40 minutes and serve them with butter and salt, but that's just me.

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Europe England Peterborough Bizarre Festivals October
World Egg Throwing Championships

World Egg Throwing Championships

The Lincolnshire hamlet of Swaton is home to one of Britain's more eggcentric competitive gatherings; the annual World Egg Throwing Championships. Contestants scramble over distances of up to thirty metres in pursuit of an airborne ovum. One thing's assured; a cracking time is had by all but the winner. No yolk!

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Europe England Swaton Bizarre Festivals Family Festivals June
World Naked Bike Ride (Chicago)

World Naked Bike Ride (Chicago)

You ready to take back the streets from those gas-guzzling, pollution-spouting, cars, motorbikes and trucks? Do you want to make a stand against consumerism, war and non-renewable energy? Wanna get nude in the process? Got a bike? Then the World Naked Bike Ride may be the event you've been looking for. World Naked Bike Rides are now held more than 70 cities worldwide from Amsterdam to Lima. Nudity is not mandatory as clothing is optional. The dress code for the World Naked Bike Ride is "bare as you dare". Join more than a thousand cyclists in various stages of undress this June for the Chicago edition of the World Naked Bike Ride. The course usually comes in at around 15 miles in length with check-in and rest stops scattered along its length. So no excuses people, ditch the trousers and start peddling for a greener future.

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North America United States Illinois Chicago, IL Nude Festivals Bizarre Festivals Adults Only Festivals June
World Nettle Eating Championships

World Nettle Eating Championships

Those wacky Brits are at it again and this one's really hard to swallow. With nothing more than a little of the amber nectar for lubrication, competitors in the annual World Nettle Eating Championships — held each June at the Bottle Inn in Marshwood — have an hour to shovel into their necks, as many stinging nettle leaves as they can stomach. Food for thought that!

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Europe England Lyme Regis Bizarre Festivals June
World Testicle Cooking Championship

World Testicle Cooking Championship

Every summer in Serbia they turn nuts into nibbles at the annual World Testicle Cooking Championships. Cow, boar, lamb, stallion even kangaroo testicles get the chop and then put in the pot as cordon-bleu chefs from near and far serve up white kidneys in dishes ranging from testicle moussaka to testicle goulash and from testicle pizza to testicles in béchamel sauce. So if your culinary tastes stretch to the round white meat and you've got nothing on come August, why not make a beeline for the World Testicle Cooking Championships in Mutanj in Serbia. Dare I say it, you'd be nuts to miss it.

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Europe Serbia Mutanj Bizarre Festivals Food Festivals August
World's Biggest Liar Competition

World's Biggest Liar Competition

If we're honest, we've all bent the truth at least once or twice. Just some of us do it with a little more panache than others. But only a very select group of men and women have ever been crowned, The World's Biggest Liar. Each year the Bridge Inn in the Cumbrian town of Wasdale plays host to a competition to find that very person. If you think you've got the goods to mix it with the best liars in the world, why not make your way to the Santon Bridge Inn in Cumbria.

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Europe England Holmrook Bizarre Festivals November

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