7 Unusual Festivals Around the World | World Festivals

People at La Tomatina festival
Flydime, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Hey! Want to do something fun? Here's a list of unusual festivals that aren't Burning Man or Running with the Bulls in Spain.

If you're looking for or daydreaming about a vacation, then maybe working in one of these weird festivals from around the world might be the way to go.

Let's start off with a few festivals that largely revolve around heaving things at other people.

The Spanish Festival Where People Throw Tomatoes

If the eight-year-old in you has never died, then have I got the ideal festival for you. You can engage in a gigantic food fight in Spain, and you won't get grounded for it.

La Tomatina is an annual celebration where participants hurl over-ripe tomatoes at each other in the center of the town plaza. This event takes place every year in the Spanish town of Bunol, at the end of August.

Supposedly, the origin of the event date back to 1945, when some ne'er-do-well juvenile delinquents had an impromptu food fight. Since then, it has grown into a cherished Spanish tradition.

This organized food fight last for about an hour, and then the celebration continues with food, drinks, and musical entertainers. All in all, it sounds like a pretty terrific festival.

Packing a change of clothes is highly advised.

The Italian Festival Where They Throw Oranges

Maybe you're looking for something a little denser to throw at people than over-ripe tomatoes.

How do oranges grab you? You definitely don't want to get beaned with one of those.

But if you do, come to Italy!

More specifically, make your way to Ivrea at the beginning of February when the food being flung this time are not soft namby-pamby tomatoes but full-on, manly as all heck oranges.

Participants generally wear some protective gear, and the organizers soften the oranges up before the battle. These all seem like reasonable measures, but still, this event is definitely more intense than the tomato thing.

The Battle of the Oranges, as it is officially called, dates back to the 13th century. At that time, the inhabitants of the town fought against an evil lord with oranges.

I would've chosen to do it with swords and pitchforks but to each his own, I guess.

Afterward, they'll be food, drinks, and lots of post-concussive laughter.

Highly recommended.

But seriously, Italy knows how to have a good time - go check it out.

The South Korean Festival Where You Play in the Mud

Let's move on to an event that's a little more challenging for the immune system. An event that lets you bask in the bacterial wonders of mud. That's right; it's time for a trip to South Korea.

Make your way to the beautiful seaside town of Boryeong. The town hosts a summer festival that features a plethora of dirt-related activities.

What exactly can you do on the festival grounds? Yes, that is an attempt at a pun.

Well for starters, you can run, slide, and wrestle in the mud - it's all mud mud mud all day every day.

Most every kind of physical activity you can think of is combined with mud. There's even a mud marathon.

You might be wondering, at the end of the festival, who will earn the prestigious title of Mud King?

Could it be you? Do you have what it takes? You'll have to go to South Korea to find out.

The town has hosted this popular event since the grand old days of 1998. It's a celebration of the mineral-rich mud found in this part of South Korea. And, after all, who wouldn't celebrate such a thing?

If you're looking for a super fun and unusual set of physical activities to do on vacation, followed by some awesome Korean food, then get your butt to South Korea.

And now for something completely different.

A Japanese Festival for Members Only

How does one describe this festival? Hmmm.

I thought about being classy and saying it revolves around the phallus, but I decided instead to say dick about it.

I also came up with a wonderful portmanteau to describe it; you can think of it as a Festicle.

Yes, folks, the Kanamara Matsuri Festival involves a lot of penis-related activities.

The good people of Kawasaki, Japan, have been doing some version of this since the 17th century. The event centers on a local Shinto shrine where people seek blessings for their fertility and general sexual health.

The event includes a parade and many other activities. There's a giant ten-foot bright pink phallus that is carted around during the parade. Make your way to Japan in early April for proof, or check out the picture below.

The giant pink phallus at the Kanamara Matsuri parade in Japan
Shoestring at wts wikivoyage / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

During the parade, there's a lot of traditional drum and flute music played while Mr. Pink bobs and up down the streets of Kawasaki. There is of course, also delicious food at this festival.

Allegedly, although I cannot personally confirm it, there are some competitions and activities that you might not find at other festivals; a "Pickle" kissing competition, a "Hammer" carrying race, and a "Johnson" pulling contest.

I'm trying to avoid saying penis too many times since Google probably doesn't like it - so you might have to go back and re-read that sentence.

If you're into slightly risque fun in a very polite and respectful country, clear your spring schedule and hop on a flight to Japan.

Enjoy Viking Cosplay, Glorious Bonfires, and Other Gallus Activities

It's time to dust off that historically inaccurate helmet with horns and head on over to Scotland.

The villagers in Lerwick, Scotland, will be waiting for you.

In the final Tuesday of January, over a thousand of the locals celebrate their Viking heritage in their best rendition of Viking attire. They proceed through the town carrying torches, looking for that one tourist to sacrifice to the god of the harvest.

I'm just kidding; that ritual takes place in the fall.

The "Up Helly Aa" celebration features a ton of musical entertainers and other performers and attracts thousands of tourists every year. It's a grand old time.

BTW, if you're looking for a Whisky that's not so peaty, I recommend you try Bunnahabhain.

It's absolutely fantastic, and it pairs nicely with fire and swords.

Travel to Thailand for the Monkey Buffet Festival

Remember that time you threw a birthday party for Miss Meow, complete with a cat food cake and celebratory decorations? This is sort of like that but with hundreds of monkeys.

Macaques, to be precise.

Every November, the Thailand town of Lopburi hosts the annual Monkey Buffet Festival. The citizens of Lopburi treat the monkeys to over 4,000 pounds of fresh food and snacks. The kind of snacks a monkey craves. Mostly fruits.

In this part of the world, the monkeys are seen as sacred animals, and feeding them is seen as an action that fosters good luck.

The little critters are absolutely adorable and Thailand is cool, so think about it.

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Tuna Mate (Bad Australian Accent)

When I was young, my family bought chunk-style tuna in a can, and we made tuna sandwiches by spreading mayonnaise on toast and dumping the dry chunks between the slices of toast. Reasonably edible but far removed from any decent culinary standards.

The optimal way is to buy flakey-style tuna in a can and mix it with mayonnaise in a bowl before spreading the mixture on toast. Maybe get fancy, and add some paprika and chopped-up pickle to the whole affair.

This is the correct way to make a tuna sandwich.

At this Australian festival, you will learn tuna-based secrets like this and much much more.

Welcome to Tunarama.

In Port Lincoln, for four days in January, the folks around here celebrate the regional fishing industry by hosting the annual Tunarama festival. Tuna tossing contests, local chef competitions, and musical performances are some of the things going on in this coastal town for this festival.

If you love seafood, sunshine, and having an amazing time, as one always does in Australia, then head on out down under.

The Exciting Conclusion to all this World Festivals Post

Hopefully, you enjoyed this carefree and sassy look at unusual festivals from around the world. Feel free to book a plane ticket, and make your next vacation a little weirder by checking out one of these bizarre festivals from around the world.

Alright, that's it - I'm out of words.

Go have some fun.

Related Websites for these Unusual Festivals

PS. Here are the official websites, more-or-less, if you want more detailed info on these unusual festivals from around the world: La Tomatina, Battle of the Oranges, Boryeong Mud Festival, Kanamara Matsuri, Up Helly Aa, Monkey Buffet Festival, and Tunarama.

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