There are awesome festivals around the world that give people who share the same passions and interests the chance to band together in an epic form of celebration. That’s why festivals usually have such great vibe and enthusiasm while the vivid atmosphere overwhelms even the most cold-blooded individuals. Going back to ancient Greece and Rome, many festivals had religious origins and entwined cultural/religious significance in traditional activities, but that’s not the case anymore as there are thousands of festivals around the world for every taste. Some of them are really weird and insane; some are quite dangerous and risky while others are ridiculously sexual but they are all fun to attend for some strange reason. In Spain, for example, there’s a festival where people who have had near-death experiences will “inform” you about the afterlife and tell you what they saw (or didn’t). In the Cayman Islands you will see more pirates than you’ve ever seen in movies or on TV, and in Jamaica you’ll be able to smoke as much weed as you want without worrying about getting arrested. If you don’t think these festivals are unique enough though, let us present to you these 25 Crazy Awesome Festivals Around The World For Every Taste.
Village Halloween Parade
Remember the excitement and anticipation of Halloween when you were a kid? As you got older, maybe the magic started to fade a bit or maybe it was replaced with your own child’s excitement. However, Halloween isn’t just for kids. Just ask the over two million people who attend New York City’s annual Village Halloween Parade in Times Square during which chaos usually erupts with music and giant puppets.
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is an American motorcycle rally held annually in Sturgis, South Dakota usually during the first full week of August. It began in 1938 and was originally held for stunts and races, but has evolved into being a meeting for motorcycle enthusiasts from all around the world. It brings significant income to the citizens of Sturgis, a town of only 6,627 people and it is considered to be one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world.
Pirates Week Festival
Every November, the Cayman Islands play host to an onslaught of scallywags and rapscallions at the annual Pirates Week Festival. Though the festival is known as Pirates Week, celebrations actually last for eleven days. This fun-filled event comes complete with a simulated pirate invasion and plenty of fancy dress. Prepare to be transported to a world that has gained notoriety thanks to Disney’s popular film series Pirates of the Caribbean. There are plenty of Jack Sparrow look-alikes marauding the streets of George Town so you best be on the lookout or you might end up in Davy Jones’s locker.
A unique holiday season celebration, Krampusnacht (Krampus Night) is an alcohol-fueled race where alpine joggers compete dressed as child-kidnapping furry devils. The origins of the Krampus is not entirely clear but it is believed to date back to pre-Christian traditions.
There is no greater celebration of the Japanese joystick than Kawasaki’s Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Iron Phallus). Despite smirks and giggles from Westerners, this is no Fantasy Fest: it’s an ancient tradition that serves as a celebration of (and prayer for) fertility, long marriages, and healthy births. It’s also a way to promote awareness about sexually transmitted diseases, most importantly HIV.
If you happen to be in India, Nepal, or Sri Lanka during the last lunar cycle of winter, called Phalguna (usually in February or March), you just might get caught in a rainbow battlefield at the Holi festival of colors. Throngs of celebrants fling every imaginable type of brightly colored dye in the form of powder, liquid, and water balloons at one another in an all out war. It’s a wildly immersive and participatory festival in which everyone gets involved, from young to old. Holi is celebrated all over the region from intimate celebrations at home to enormous street parties exploding with color.
Walpurgisnacht (Witches’ Night) is an ancient festival to welcome spring and to drive away evil spirits. Though there are many variations of the festival, it is commonly celebrated with dancing and bonfires on April 30 or May 1 throughout Central and Northern Europe. Strangely enough, it is exactly six months from All Hallows’ Eve, more commonly known as Halloween. Like Halloween, Walpurgis Night has its roots in ancient pagan customs where the arrival of spring was celebrated with bonfires at night. As for the name? It comes from the eighth-century missionary Saint Walburga.
Festival of Giants
For almost five hundred years, enormous human effigies—the Gayant (giant) family—have presided over this party in northern France, one of the nation’s largest festivals.
Known locally as “El Colacho” but internationally as “the baby jumping festival,” this Spanish ritual involves men dressed as the devil in red and yellow jumpsuits and wearing modern running shoes, jumping over babies born in the previous twelve months. The festival traditionally takes place on the Sunday after Corpus Christi (usually in May or June).
Some may dismiss Comic-Con as a geekfest, but true fans know that it’s four days of fun where they can meet industry stars and play in a fantasy world, all in downtown San Diego. Packed with events from autograph signings to film screenings to costume competitions (many people show up in costume), this celebration of popular arts is a behemoth convention. And to be perfectly clear here, nobody is too geeky to hit Comic-Con, a monstrous convention that embraces comics and other popular art forms.
Each year in Clinton, Montana, locals gather to celebrate . . . well, testicles. The Testy Fest includes several different events, the main one being the ball-eating contest. You are given four minutes to see how many bull testicles you can consume. Yes, you have to eat bull testicles. They also have an Undie 500 race, which is pretty much what it sounds like—people racing in their underwear.
You’d have thought a petite partner would be favorable in the Wife Carrying Championships, but don’t be fooled. While a lightweight missus will help hubbies navigate the assault course in the quickest time, their lite partners will count against them when organizers award the prize—the wife’s weight in beer.
Less a festival, more a way of life, Nevada’s Burning Man is the celebrated soiree that turns the Black Rock Desert into an alternative, free-thinking city for a week. Attracting imaginative extroverts and creative self-expressionists, attendees aren’t merely observers but participants who dream up, build, and dismantle a world of mutilated cars, interactive communal camps, and otherworldly art in a temporary, utopian space.
Underwater Music Festival
The Underwater Music Festival is held every year in the Florida Keys. Music is broadcast by local radio stations and piped underwater. Musicians dressed as mermaids and mermen join in the fun and put on a show for all spectators. Many dive enthusiasts come out for the fun and food, but the festival also promotes the preservation of the Keys’ coral reef ecosystem.
Wodaabe Gerewol & Cure Salee
Roles are reversed for the Wodaabe men, who wear makeup and elaborate costumes in the beauty pageant known as Gerewol. Gerewol might be a beauty pageant, but it is also a courtship ritual, as the pageantry often leads to flirtation and potentially a love match. Wodaabe traditionally have arranged marriages, and many are already married when the pageant takes place. It is possible that a flirtation that develops from this beauty competition could lead to a second marriage (or third), something that is not out of the realm of possibility for the Wodaabe people.
It might be hard to believe, but one year the crowds at this sheep shearing festival were so large that the army had to be called in to control them. These days it’s all about speed and the quality of the cut as clipper-ready contestants vie for the championship title. Competitors literally need to be a cut above the rest to win the wool handling and wool pressing competitions.
Battle of the Oranges
The Spanish are well known for their annual food fight, La Tomatina, but that’s nothing compared to Italy’s Battle of the Oranges. The origins of this festival are unclear, but we do know that being hit in the face by citrus fruit is painful. However, that doesn’t deter participants who turn up in the thousands to join the fight.
Air Guitar World Championships
Remember the good old days of the power ballad, when you used to bust out on the dance floor with some epic air guitar during AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” Well, here’s your chance to show off those moves again in front of thousands of adoring fans at the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, northern Finland.
According to the locals, Kazantip Republic (also known as Z) is not what you think, but sometimes it’s what you dream about. See, the people who take part in this festival strongly believe that parallel festival universes exist, but with a twist. Take Burning Man, for example. Turn its dusty desert into a sun-dappled beach on a Cambodian island. The beach is two square kilometers of pure party paradise, where summer lovers and creative souls unite to worship the sun, sand, and sexiness that is Z. This land has its own constitution, religion, and rules.
What’s more impressive than a chocolate egg during Easter you ask? What about 60,000 rockets fired between two churches on an idyllic Greek island? That’s exactly how the most important date in the Orthodox Christian calendar is commemorated on the Greek island of Chios, the fifth-largest island in Greece, one of those semi-arid, sun-bleached jewels of the Aegean that postcards and screen savers were invented for. The bad news, however, is that this festival is known for being one of the most dangerous since many people have lost their hands or even their lives during it.
Calcio Storico Fiorentino
Some have called it the most brutal sporting event in the world. Once a year in the middle of the elegance of Renaissance-era Florence and in front of the imposing marble facade of the Church of Santa Croce and its statue of Dante, rival teams duke it out in a violent, body-to-body match set on a sand-covered playing field as fans wildly cheer on their neighborhood squad.
Roswell UFO Festival
UFO enthusiasts and skeptics alike flock to this site of the 1947 Roswell incident to celebrate the unknown and have some quirky fun. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags for Roswell, New Mexico, and take a deeper look into one of the most famed UFO incidents in the United States during the Roswell UFO Festival.
The festival was founded in 1987 by Steven Hager, an American writer, activist, and strong proponent of the legalization of marijuana. He first conceived the event as a harvest celebration to promote the personal cultivation and use of cannabis. This way, every November since 1988 thousands of budding horticulturalists and stoners descend upon the city of Negril, Jamaica, to attend what is widely renowned as the world’s preeminent drug fest, the High Times Cannabis Cup.
Naghol Land Diving
In a terrifying appeasement to the gods and a bold display of virility, in this festival men jump off a spiked tower, hurtling to the ground below, attached only to vines. Yep, what you just read is 100% true. On Pentecost Island in the South Pacific, each year men of the Sa tribe build a ninety-eight-foot-tall tower out of jungle wood, climb to the top, and jump off, tethered by vines tied around their ankles. If the vine is too short, he will swing back against the tower. If it’s too long, the land diver will at a minimum experience pain, possibly break some bones, or even die.
Festival of Near-Death Experiences
Mexico may have Dia de los Muertos, but Spain one-ups them with their pilgrimage of the nearly dead, officially known as Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme. It might sound like a macabre festival but it really isn’t. To get an idea of what happens keep this image in mind: solemnly dressed family members carry those who have claimed a near-death experience in the past year to the church, where a mass is celebrated around noon, often with many of the near-dead sitting erect in coffins. Cool, huh?