Top 11 Weirdest Festivals

Article by: Laura Mason|@masonlazarus

Fri September 06, 2013 | 00:00 AM

While Spain could have their own set of a dozen festivals in this category, the reality is the world is full of zany, quirky, and bizarre cultural rituals that you’d be hard-pressed to explain to a Martian if they came to Earth seeking a higher-life form. Why do these festivals exists? We suggest an emphatic, “Why not!?”


El Colacho (Spain)

Photo credit: Chip Conley

Both the visuals and the explanation create a collection, “What the hell?” Yes, a 400 year-old Catholic ritual of a devil jumping over mattress after mattress full of newborns throughout the streets of a village in northern Spain makes for one bizarre day.


Testicle Festival (US)

Video credit: The Conventioneers

Rocky Mountain Oysters, aka bull testicles, are the delicacy at this annual manly festival in Montana. Testacular!


Tinku (Bolivia)

Video credit: Romulo Aroni

Odd or cathartic, Tinku is the one day of the year in this Andean town when everyone takes their grudges out on each other in the town square. Women start hitting their best friends and men challenge the manhood of other men. Just beware that even "spectators" are not out of bounds from getting a knock to the jaw. First rule of Tinku fight club: nobody is safe.


Henley-on-Todd Regatta (Australia)

Video credit: Northern Territory, Australia's Outback

The mythically remote and arid location of Alice Springs pokes fun at the high-brow Henley Regatta back at the mothership in England. This regatta is run (literally) on a dry river bed and just shows the Aussie sensibility that any place can be turned into a party.


Festival of Near-Death Experiences (Spain)

Video credit: lavozdegalicia

Similar to nearby El Colacho, this festival is a mix of pagan and Catholic influences. In a nutty nutshell: those who have had near-death experiences in the past year climb inside a coffin and their family members carry them in a grand procession up to the local church. Sounds somber, but there’s brass bands, religious memorabilia, great food, and a slice of multi-generational Spanish village life.


Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling (England)

Photo credit: Chip Conley

Imagine running down a mogul-filled, black diamond ski slope, chasing a large wheel of cheese with people breaking arms and legs on either side of you. Sound crazy? It is. But it’s also an age-old tradition in Gloucester, England and an event perfectly made for YouTube.


Lopburi Monkey Banquet (Thailand)

Video credit: Diagonal View

The local townspeople have created quite a tourist attraction with this annual feast for all the crazy monkeys in the neighborhood. If you’re in the midst of teaching table manners to your kids, it might be best not to bring them to this festival.


Camel Wrestling Championships (Turkey)

Video credit: Max Harwood

Turkey has both an Oil Wrestling championship and a Camel Wrestling event. Both are a little weird, but this one is a little more G-rated and hilarious.


World Wife Carrying Championships (Finland)

Video Credit: Telegraph TV

Speaking of hilarious, here’s an odd event in which men carry their wives over and through an obstacle course on a summer day when Finland’s sun doesn’t set until after midnight. 


Rouketopolemos (Greece)

Video credit: Diagonal View
The Greek island of Chios should be renamed Chaos. Come Easter, rival villages launch thousands of homemade rockets with the hopes of striking their neighbor's church bell. Oh, and of course, in the midst of all this, villagers attend mass.


Frozen Dead Guy Day (US)

Video credit: Ryan Van Duzer

It all started with a sensational story about a Norweigian citizen who transported his frozen, dead grandfather back to the town of Nederland, Colorado in 1989. The town rallied behind cryogenically frozen gramps, and now celebrates each winter with wacky festivities like coffin races. Don't miss out on "Grandpa's Blue Ball," the dance given in his honor.