This world is pretty crazy, but that’s all part of its charm, and only goes towards fuelling our desire to get out there and soak it all up. As travel lovers, we’re begging to be shocked, inspired and introduced to new things – and there’s plenty out there to help us achieve it.
One person that knows more than most about some of the weird things this world has to offer is Cat Mills, creator of Wicked and Weird… Around the World so we’ve asked her to share her expertise and some of her favourite examples of some of the more weirder events that you could come across on your travels – if your timing’s right of course…
10 of the most wicked and weird festivals in the world
Here are Cat’s picks for the 10 weirdest festivals from around the world, starting with the ever so intriguing Penis Festival…
Penis Festival, Japan
Kanamara Matsuri, also known as the Festival of the Steel Phallus is an annual festival that takes place at the Kanayama Shrine. The festival is traced back to the legend of demon that lived in a woman’s vagina. The nasty creature managed to castrate two men on the woman’s wedding night. Distraught she sought the help of a local blacksmith who created a steel phallus to break the demon’s teeth. Today thousands celebrate by taking to the streets and eat penis lollypops, have their photos taken with penis sculptures and enjoy the parade of the giant phallus. Funds raised go towards HIV research.
When: April 7th 2013
Where: Kawasaki, Japan
Battle of the Oranges, Italy
The Battle of the Oranges takes place each February during the Carnevale di Ivrea. The tradition is linked back to the story of a young woman who fought against the droit de seigneur rule and decapitated her would-be rapist, a tyrant from the region. The event caused an uprising of the townsfolk and the Battle of the Oranges represents the conflict. Anyone can participate but brace yourself – getting hit with oranges is going to leave a few bruises, that’s for sure.
When: January/ February annually. Check the Official Website for more information.
Where: Ivrea, Turin Province, Italy
The aftermath of Battle of the Oranges, Italy.
Frozen Dead Guy Days, USA
Frozen Dead Guy Days is an oddball celebration of a cryogenically frozen grandfather who was left in the shed after his daughter and grandson faced eviction/ deportation. The community was touched by the story of Grandpa Bredo and opted to take over his care. The folks of Nederland, Colorado, now celebrate with a series of events that range from bizarre (frozen turkey bowling) to somewhat morbid (coffin racing).
When: March, annually. Check the Official website for further details.
Where: Nederland, Colorado, USA
Wife Carrying Championships, Finland
The Wife Carrying Championships have been going in Finland since 1992. The competition involves a man racing through an obstacle course while carrying a woman on his back. The winner receives his “wife’s” weight in beer. Need we say more?
When: July 5th – 6th, 2013
Where: Sonkajärvi, Finland
Holi; the Colour Fight, India
Celebrated largely in India and Pakistan, Holi is a celebration of life and colour. The tradition is based around the story of a devotee of the god Vishnu who managed to survive being set on fire while sitting on his aunt, Holika’s, burning lap. In celebration, folks throw colour powder dyes on each other in an unparallel spectacle.
When: March 17th, 2014
Where: Throughout the world, but largely India and Nepal
It's what every 12 year old's dreams are made of - one big colour fight!
The Great Dunny Race, Australia
No country loves racing as much as Australia; in this tradition teams bring their own port-a-potty and take to the streets in one of the oddest races around – and yes, someone takes a seat on the toilet as they race.
When: January 26th (Australia Day) annually
Where: Palmview, Queensland, Australia
Day of the Skulls, Bolivia
A curious hybrid Catholic-Pagan tradition, the Day of the Skulls sees the fine folks of Bolivia show off their skulls; and by that I mean the human skulls they have at home. The skulls often belong to ancestors and it is believed that if you treat your skulls poorly then you will be struck with bad luck. On the Day of the Skulls folks take their skulls out of the house and treat them to tobacco/ mint leaves and decorate them with flowers.
When: November 9th, annually
Where: La Paz, Bolivia
The Krampus Parade, Austria
In many countries, each Christmas “naughty” children receive coal in their stockings. The stakes are a bit higher in Austria; if you’ve been naughty you’ll be eaten by Santa’s demonic helper, Krampus. Yikes. Each December throughout Austria folks dressed as the frightening monster parade, frighten the children, and party throughout the night.
When: December annually
Where: Throughout Austria, but largely in Graz.
Nope that's not going to scar a child mentally. Not at all. Eeeek!
Haro Wine Fight, Spain
Spain hosts many incredible festivals and celebrations, but one of the most fun is surely the Wine Fight in Haro. The celebration takes place on the day of the patron saint San Pedro and everyone wears white and gathers in the centre of the town before they are led to the nearby cliffs of Bilibio where a free-for-all wine fight of epic proportions begins!
When: June 19th, annually
Where: Haro, Spain
Toe Wrestling World Championships, UK
Who ever knew Toe Wrestling was so much fun? Each year the folks around the globe (but mostly from Darbyshire) gather at the Bentley Brook Inn to partake in a truly challenging sport; Toe Wrestling. Men and women face off and fight for the coveted title of World Champion. Pick out your toe wrestling name, have a pint with the long time rivals Alan Nasty Nash and Paul Predatoe Beach and see if you’ve got what it takes to be a champ. For more information about the Toe Wrestling World Championships, check out our web series Wicked and Weird Around the World.
When: June 8th, 2013
Where: Ashbourne, Derbyshire, United Kingdom