8 unusual celebrations & festivals from around the world

Another Bonfire Night approaches and here we are still not really understanding why we celebrate it. But hey, we’re going along with it anyway because SPARKLERS. But it left us wondering, what other wacky celebrations go on around the world…

Bonfire Night

What could be more normal than celebrating an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament over 400 years ago by lighting fires and setting off fireworks?  We all know the story and if you don’t, Jon Snow, we mean, Kit Harrington told it very nicely on the BBC. Fortunately, Guy Fawkes’s attempt to kill and replace the King failed and maybe in the biggest show of UK pomp ever, King James decided to make his near-death experience an annual celebration.

How to celebrate: Start fires (responsibly) with a Guy Fawkes effigy a top or go and see a firework display.


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Bolas de Fuego

If you turn up in El Salvador on the 31st of August without knowing about this festival, you’re going to be in for a little bit of a surprise. Nothing quite like hopping off the plane and having a flaming rag thrown at you! Yep, that’s right, a Fireball Festival.

Back in 1922, the people of Nepaja were forced to evacuate following the eruption of a nearby volcano. As they were leaving, locals saw (goodness, gracious) great balls of fire coming out of the volcano and believed that this was actually their patron saint, San Jeronimo, fighting the devil.

How to celebrate: Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge because these dodgeballs are lit!


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El Colacho

The Spanish are full of weird and wonderful traditions, but this has to be near the top of the list. We’re just going to say it… Baby-jumping. Yep, you heard us right. Grown men dressed like devils jump over babies born in the last 12 months in the small northern town of Castrillo de Murcia.

Apparently, it’s to ward off evil spirits but no one really knows how this started… We’re questioning this like we question the first guy to ever make milk. Weird.

How to celebrate: Watching only, we’re afraid to say – our first idea was to dress as a baby, but don’t tell anyone we told you that!


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Boryeong Mud Festival

Every year in Boryeong, South Korea, hordes of people get muddied up for FUN. What started as a marketing stunt for cosmetics has bizarrely stuck and 20 years later it shows no sign of slowing down.

How to celebrate: Get your swimming costume on and prepare to get down and dirrrrrty a la Christina Aguilera.  


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Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme

This time we’re going to Galicia, in north west Spain for the fiesta of near death experiences… We thought we were dramatic, but in Galicia they hold a procession and festival every year for anyone who has had a close brush with death. But they don’t just party and carry on, oh no. Instead, they get into their own coffin and have their family and friends carry them through the streets.

How to celebrate: If you had a near-death experience, bring your coffin and sing Paint it Black at the top of your lungs!


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(Nearly) Naked Festival

If you’re in Japan in mid-February, prepare for an eyeful… Hello loincloth-clad men fighting to grab a sacred stick to put in a box filled with rice. We promise, we’re not making this up.

It all comes from over 500 years of worshippers at the Saidaji Temple wanting to receive a paper charm from the priest to guarantee a year of good luck. Good luck keeping your bum cheeks warm!

How to celebrate: Grab your loincloth and get ready to catch those sticks like a bouquet at a wedding.


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Up Helly Aa

This just sounds Scottish doesn’t it? Imagine a portly Viking shouting this and you’re onto something. Head to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands on the last Tuesday of January to watch burly men (and lads) haul a Viking galley to a crowd of 5,000 spectators and burn it to celebrate the “lightening of the year”.

How to celebrate: Grab your thickest jacket and watch the flames of the torch lit procession and galley burning.


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Redneck Games

Sadly, these don’t run any more, but they had to get an honourable mention. After American media outlets responded to news that Atlanta had won the bid to host the 1996 Olympics Games by saying the event would be organised by a group of rednecks, the locals decided to give the people what they wanted. And boy did they deliver. With events that included toilet seat-throwing, the mud pit belly flop and the armpit serenade, you were guaranteed a good time while giving back to local children charities.

Join us as we chant… bring it back, bring it back!


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Roll up your sleeves and get ready to jump over some babies or throw a fireball on your next trip because we humans are a weird bunch that just really loves a party.