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The Thaipuism Festival
Not for the faint of heart, this Hindu festival is typically celebrated in southern India and involves some of the most intense body piercings known to man. According to practitioners, the more pain you can endure, the more you will be blessed. Some even try pulling tractors or other heavy objects with the hooks in their skin.
The Songkran Festival
Every April, to celebrate New Year, the world’s largest water gun fight takes place in the country of Thailand. And no, it’s not just some small isolated village. We’re talking about an entire country drowning itself with Super Soakers. But the fun isn’t limited to water guns as some people prefer buckets or even elephants.
Originally meant to promote Australia’s fledgling tuna industry, this festival has now come to be known for it’s highlight event…the tuna toss.
What started as something of a street fight between teenagers using tomatoes from nearby vegetable stalls has turned into the largest tomato fight in the world. It happens every year in the small Spanish town of Bunyol. Over the course of about 1 hour, the town gets so covered in tomatoes that the fire department has to come in and spray everything down.
Boryeong Mud Festival
Taking place every summer in the town of Boryeong, South Korea, this international mud fight attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. Strangely enough, it was originally intended to be a marketing vehicle for local cosmetics producers who use the mineral rich mud in their products.
By this point, you’ve probably noticed that large groups of celebrating people have a tendency to throw/smear things on one another. While it’s hard to say whether colored powder feels any better than mud or tomatoes, it certainly looks a lot cooler. If this kind of thing strikes your fancy though, you might want to pay India a visit during the springtime festival of Holi. At the very least, you’ll probably end up with a pretty cool looking tie-dye shirt!
The Monkey Buffet Festival
There aren’t many things cooler than hanging out with a bunch monkeys…except maybe hanging out with a bunch of monkeys stuffing their faces at an all you can eat buffet. That’s exactly what you’ll find, however, if you visit Thailand around the month of November. Locals celebrate the festival every year by laying out fruit for thier monkey friends. Interestingly enough, there’s supposedly no real significance behind it except for an alleged attempt to boost tourism.
Festival of the Pig
This annual festival held in the small town of Trie Sur Baise honors the pig with events such as piglet races and squealing and costume contests. The town used to be France’s biggest pig market, and although business isn’t quite what it used to be, it seems the locals are still very passionate about their swine.
Night of the Radishes
Although it sounds like some sort of vegan horror film, it’s actually a festival celebrated every year before Christmas throughout Mexico. Street-side vendors whip out their specially grown, over-sized radishes and then proceed to sculpt them into some really cool shapes.
Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme
Also known as the Near Death Festival, this celebration is held annually in the town of Las Nieves, Spain. Hundreds of people attend mass in honor of Saint Marta de Ribarteme, the Patron saint of resurrection. Don’t be surprised, however, if you see a bunch of people being carried there in coffins. No, they’re not dead, at least not yet. They’re actually in the coffin because they’ve just had a near death experience in the past 12 months and are now showing their gratitude.
Cheese Rolling Festival
Every year near Gloucester, England, hundreds of people gather to watch as locals chase a huge cheese wheel off the top of Cooper’s Hill. They tumble a couple hundred yards to the bottom where they are either scooped up by paramedics and taken to the hospital, or if they cross the finish line first, they win the cheese. Definitely worth it.
Argungu Fishing Festival
Every year in the town of Argungu, Nigeria, all the local men compete to see who can pull the largest fish out of the river using nothing but their bare hands. Ladies take note, the winner is supposed to be a real catch.
The Running of the Bulls
Probably one of the more popular events on this list, the Pamplona Bull Run in Spain is actually part of the Fiesta San Fermin which takes place every July. The only requirements to participate are that you have to be at least 18 years old and sober.
When it comes to strange festivals, it’s pretty hard to beat the Japanese. Although this “naked festival” seems like little more than a bunch of guys running around in diapers, it’s actually considered to be fairly sacred by some people and can be traced back hundreds of years.
Every year, the town of Laza in northern Spain holds their own unique version of carnival and “purification.” People party away, pelt each other with muddy rags, wear costumes, and eat and drink. To top it all of, men bring back ants from the mountains to the town where they douse them in vinegar to rile them up a bit. After this, the only thing left to do is take the angry fire ants around town and throw them into people’s faces.
Moose Dropping Festival
In celebration of the state’s official animal, the small Alaskan town of Talkeetna holds an annual festival in which the highlight involves dropping loads of moose poop onto targets from hot air balloons. We kid you not.
Up Helly AA
Occuring once a year in the Shetland Islands, Up Helly AA is a fairly intense ordeal that involves lots of fire, viking helmets, and lifesize replicas of longships being burnt to the ground…or the ocean for that matter.
Frozen Dead Guy Days
Ever since Bredo Morstol’s body was brought to the United States by his grandson in the late 80′s, his body has been cryogenically frozen in a shed located in the small town of Nederland, Colorado. Although initially the townspeople were opposed to the idea of keeping frozen dead people in their backyards, they’ve chilled out quite a bit. Today, they even hold an annual festival that includes coffin races, a slow motion parade, and a Frozen Dead Guy lookalike contest.
Goose Pulling Festival
Each year on Shrove Tuesday in various towns throughout Germany and the Netherlands, villagers take part in a very old and very controversial activity. Basically, a goose is hung from either a wire or a pole after which, participants take turns trying to pull its head off. Don’t get too worked up though, the animal rights activists already beat you to it. These days only dead geese are allowed to be used in the festivities.
The Redneck Games
In 1996, when the Olympics were held in Atlanta, some locals took offense to the fact that the international media portrayed them as a “bunch of rednecks holding a sporting event.” As a result, they ended up doing just that. Some of the events include toilet seat throwing, hubcap hurling, and the armpit serenade.
Burning Tar Barrel Festival
Although no one is quite sure why anymore, for hundreds of years people in the town of Devon, England, have been running through the streets carrying burning barrels of tar. As soon as the sun goes down on the 5th of November (Guy Fawkes Night), barrels are lit and placed upon the back of a carrier. When he can bear it no more, he’ll hand off the load to the next willing soul and so and so forth.
Bolas de Fuego
Staying on the topic of fire, this festival takes us halfway around the world to San Salvador. Around the turn of the 20th century, a volcano almost completely destroyed the small town of Nejapa. Every year since then, residents have gathered together in the town square for a very appropriately themed celebration, consisting of throwing flaming rags at one another.
Once again, we find ourselves in Japan, and once again the Japanese have managed to outdo themselves. This time, the festival involves two things – sumo wrestlers and lots and lots of babies. Every April, the wrestlers face off while holding the babies to see whose will cry first. May the man with the most baby friendly hands win.
Goat Tossing Festival
There are few things in the world stranger than what happens in the small Spanish town of Manganeses de la Polvorosa every fourth Sunday of January. Essentially it consists of a young boy finding a goat, tying it up, and then throwing it from the top of the church belfry, after which it’s supposedly caught by villagers on the ground.
Also known as the baby jumping festival, this cringe worthy celebration occurs every year on the feast of Corpus Christi in the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia. Any baby that was born in the previous 12 months is placed on a mattress in the street while all the adult men of the village take turns jumping over them. Although there are usually at least several injuries (surprise!), word has it that they typically only involve the jumpers.