One of the best reasons to travel (aside from the food or maybe chasing nice weather around the globe) is so you can learn about and immerse yourself in other cultures. If that appeals to you, or if you love new and weird experiences, you’re going to want to check out at least a few of these bizarre festivals from around the world.
#10. The Day of Silence (Bali)
In Bali, the New Year is ushered in with peace, calm, and blessed silence. If you’re over the age of 30, I’m going to assume that, like me, this sounds way freaking better than ringing it in with a bunch of sweaty, drunk strangers and then trying not to die on your way home.
Nyepi Day, also known as the Day of Silence, means all residents of Bali are obliged to follow these rules: no fire, no travel, no activity, no entertainment. Traffic and electricity are shut down (aside from emergency services) and the calm 24 hours is meant for self-reflection, meditation, and relaxation.
I am so in.
#9. The Baby Jumping Festival (Castrillo de Murca, Spain)
If it sounds weird and dangerous, just wait until I tell you what else happens during this Spanish festival, known locally as El Calacho. It begins with men dressed in red and yellow clothing and masks (they’re depicting the Devil) running through town swearing and whipping slow-to-move people with horsetails.
The sound of drums calls the Devil-men to the center of town, where a bunch of 1-year-old babies lay on mattresses on the ground. Then they jump over them.
The ritual is meant as a baptism of sorts, and protects the children and even takes away their sins (because 1-year-olds can really rack ’em up?).
If this seems ill-advised, you’ll probably be able to breathe better knowing that, for 400 years running, the tricks have been performed by professionals and no child has been harmed.
#8. The Bog Snorkeling Championship (Llanwrtyd in Powys, Wales)
This town, which is one of the smallest in the United Kingdom, hosts one of the weirdest races I’ve ever heard about. People dive into an actual bog and proceed to race a triathlon.
No thanks. I’ve seen the movies about bog people.
#7. Boryeong Mud Festival (Boryeong, South Korea)
If you’re into health and wellness via mineralized mud, the Boryeong Mud Festival is the one for you. People gather on the coast of the Yellow Sea for mud games, mud baths, massages, a mud marathon, plus entertainment and dancing competitions.
#6. Pikachu Festival (Yokohama, Japan)
With millions of devoted fans worldwide, it should come as no surprise that you can celebrate the popular character with a parade, costumes, and other fun and games.
#5. Monkey Buffet Festival (Lopburi, Thailand)
No, it’s not about eating monkeys (which is totally what I also thought, so don’t feel weird). The Monkey Buffet Festival is held in the Old Town of Lopburi each November, and thousands of monkeys are invited to enjoy a feast, not to be the feast.
Over 4,000 kg of Thai dishes are set out near the Khmer Temple, and the idea is to honor the monkeys, who are believed to bring good luck.
If you go, you’ll probably see a monkey drinking soda from a can. ‘Nuff said.
#4. Battle of the Oranges (Ivrea, Italy)
Three days before Fat Tuesday, Ivrea becomes a battlefield where nine squads fight for the sake of justice. Their weapon of choice? Oranges.
The participants wear helmets and other gear in order to avoid serious injury, and at the end of three days of fighting, judges pick a winning team to be honored by the whole town.
#3. La Tomatina (Bunol, Spain)
Sure, it looks like the set of a horror movie, but the streets are bathed in tomatoes, not blood. La Tomatina is known as the world’s biggest food fight, and lasts for exactly one hour once a year.
There are some safety rules: squash the tomatoes (which are provided by the town) before throwing them, don’t bring any objects that might cause harm or accidents, wear old clothes and shoes, and be respectful to others.
Sounds like fun!
#2. The Annual Viking Festival (Hafnarfjordur, Iceland)
You may not want to actually go back in time to the hard, thankless, deadly life of a Viking, but wouldn’t it be fun to pretend?
That’s the idea behind this 5 day festival, in which visitors can purchase traditional utensils, take part in workshops on handcrafting and fighting, and eat traditional, local food. There are staged battles in the evening, as well as partying at authentic restaurants.
#1. Hair Freezing Day (Whitehorse, Canada)
It’s almost time for the main event, which is hosted in February each year at the Takhini Hot Pools. People sit in the hot pools, dip their hair in the water, then wait for it to freeze. Everyone takes a photo once they’ve arranged their frozen locks just so and the best one wins a prize!
That dude looks like a winner to me!