Festival is a very important part of human culture, and every culture has its own particular reasons to celebrate. In most parts of the world, you’ll find that the celebrations have at least a few things in common (eating, drinking, dancing), many times the similarities stop there. Many of these weird festivals from around the world can be described as merely quirky or maybe gross, but some of these bizarre festivals are actually pretty disturbing.
Here are 10 insane festivals around the world that might make you scratch your head.
- La Tomatina
One of the more famous festivals, La Tomatina in Spain is a messy mass tomato fight in the streets of Bunol. This one’s not free, but it’s definitely worth a look if you’re in the area this summer and LOVE of tomatoes.
- 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.
- Saidai-Ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri
Anyone with the desire to witness 9,000 mostly-naked men battle each other over a pair of lucky, sacred sticks can do just that in Okayama, Japan, on the third Saturday in February. At the start of the event, a priest tosses the two sacred shingi sticks into a crowd of men in loincloths and the struggle begins. Whoever snatches the sticks and stuffs them into a box of heaped rice will be blessed with happiness throughout the year. This festival dates back 500 years to when worshippers gathered to compete over paper talismans.
- Cheese Rolling Festival
This popular festival involves hundreds of contestants chasing a wheel of cheese down steep, muddy cooper’s hill in Gloucestershire. They tumble a couple hundred yards to the bottom where they are both scooped up by paramedics and taken to the hospital, or if they cross the finish line first, they win the cheese.
- Rayne Frog Festival
Billed as a “toadally awesome time” by the festival’s organizing committee, despite an apparent lack of toads involved, the Rayne Frog Festival nevertheless delivers on its anuran promises every fall. The festival features all things frog: frog races, frog jumping, the selection of the Frog Derby Queen and, naturally, lots of Cajun-style frogs’ legs to eat. The self-proclaimed Frog Capital of the World also showcases local, regional and national musical talent and holds a variety of frog-themed runs, fairs, and other activities. To be sure, if you are into frogs, there’s no other place you’d rather be in mid-November.
- Boryeong Mud Festival
Mud-wrestling is way too popular not to have an entire festival devoted to it. Every summer in Boryeong, South Korea, an enormous mud fight of international proportions breaks out. People from all over the world fly into Boryeong to get in on the action. Strangely enough, it was originally intended to be a marketing vehicle for local cosmetics producers who use the mineral-rich mud in their products.
- Kanamara Matsuri Festival
Dedicated to all things phallic, this religious festival features penis-shaped lollipops, novelty penis glasses, giant penis statues, penis-themed souvenirs, phallic vegetable carving workshops… you get the idea!
- Monkey Buffet Festival
Any visitor to Thailand will have seen the rapacious appetites of the monkeys that haunt the country’s temples and streets. At Lopburi, north of Bangkok their capacity to demolish any quantity of fruit and vegetables is celebrated every November, when 4000kg of bananas, apples, cakes, and sweets are laid out for them around a complex of 10th-century temples. For the less simian, there is music, dancing, monkey costumes, and sculptures.
- Underwater Music Festival
Located in the Florida Keys in the United States, only living coral barrier reef, the Underwater Music Festival has been running for 31 years. A local radio station sponsors the event to promote environmental sustainability and responsible diving, and they play their sea-themed music underwater through speakers that are suspended under boats situated above the reef. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes and play “underwater instruments” to compete for prizes.
- 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.