Bizarr, bizarrer, am bizarrsten.

The weirdest festivals in the world 

Words: Lea Wieser
Photo (Above): Getty

From paying tribute to private parts to exorcism and cheese racing. These are without doubt the strangest, weirdest and most bizzare festivals in the world

Kanamara Matsuri

WHEN? The festival takes place annually on the first Sunday of the year. The next one is April 3, 2016.  

WHERE? Wakamiya Hachimangu Kanayama Schrine, Kawasaki, Japan

WHAT? Long live the penis! Every year, the male organ and its power is celebrated on the first Sunday in April in Kawasaki, Japan. The Festival of the Steel Phallus, as it known, sees thousands of locals and tourists worship a huge pink steel penis. Why? It is supposed to bring the worshippers luck in their love life, increase fertility, encourage a happy marriage and protect against sexually transmitted diseases. The festival also contributes a lot to aids research, with most of the revenue made from the sale of penis memorabilia (like penis lollies) going to various charities. 

BIZARRE-O-METER: 9/10

The male form is celebrated for a whole day 

© Paolo Vivas // YouTube

Wife Carrying World Championships

WHEN? Every year in July - 2016: TBA

WHERE? Sonkajärvi, Finland

WHAT? The name pretty much sums up this event. Want to be next Wife Carrying World Champion, then you better start lifting! It sounds relatively simple, but the 250-metre track should not be underestimated. How you carry your loved one is up to you, and don’t worry if you’re not ready to commit to marriage, you can even enter your girlfriend as well. The only condition is that she needs to weigh at least 50 kilos. The perfect way to strengthen your relationship, and your back as well. 

BIZARRE-O-METER: 5/10

Die World Wife Carrying Championship in Finnland

You need to carry your woman over the finish, how you do it is up to you. Just don’t drop her! 

© Getty

Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling Festival

WHEN? The next one takes place on May 30th, 2016. 

WHERE? Cooper’s Hill, Gloucestershire, UK

WHAT? Go watch 5,000 cheese enthusiasts roll Gloucester cheese down Cooper’s Hill and run after it. It is something you will never forget (for better or worse). Expect to see participants take a tumble or ten as they try to catch a cheese that can hit speeds of up to 70 mph. No participant has ever been able to catch the cheese, even with a head start. But who knows what the future will bring – we are getting faster after all

BIZARRE-O-METER: 7/10

Are you brave enough? Sign up for next year’s event on May 20th, 2016 here 

© SoGloss // YouTube

El Salto del Colacho

WHEN? Takes place every year. The next one is May 26th, 2016. 

WHERE? Castrillo de Murcia, Spain 

WHAT?  El Salto de Colacho festival (the Baby jumping festival) is a traditional Spanish holiday dating back to 1620 that takes place annually to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi. The ritual is meant to protect against evil spirits and in order to do this, newborn babies are decorated with confetti and flower petals and placed on the ground, whereupon men dressed as devils proceed to jump over them. Whether they make the jump or not is pure luck, so it is most definitely not for the faint-hearted. 

BIZARRE-O-METER: 10/10

El Salto del Colacho: Wird er den Sprung schaffen?

Will El Colacho (devil) make the jump?

© Getty

World Gurning Championship

WHEN? The 2015 championships recently took place. 2016 - TBA.

WHERE? Egremont, UK

WHAT? Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the ugliest of them all? The Gurning World Championship is all about pulling the most unattractive, creatively ugly face using as many muscles as possible. This tournament has been taking place since 1267 and is one of the oldest festivals in the world. This year, 16-time champion Tommy Mattinson was defeated by Gordon Blacklock from Whitehaven in a shock result. 

BIZARRE-O-METER: 9/10

La Tomatina

WHEN? Every year on the last Wednesday in August. 2016 – August 31st. 

WHERE? Buñol, Spain

WHAT? It all began 50 years ago when a fight broke out at a market. The fight just so happened to take place next to a vegetable stand, and the rest is history. The people involved managed to see the funny side when all was said and done, and La Tomatina was born. The event now attracts over 45,000 people every year to literally paint the town red. The most important rule: Only over-ripe tomatoes are allowed, and they have to be squashed in your hand before throwing to help prevent injury. All weapons have to be dropped after exactly one hour. 

BIZARRE-O-METER: 6/10

Eine Stadt sieht rot an La Tomatina

Paint the town red: Over 150 tons of tomatoes were used for the 50th anniverary 

© Getty

International bathtub regatta

WHEN? Usually on August 15th every year. 

WHERE? Dinant, Belgium

WHAT?  Who needs a boat when you have got a bathtub? The International Bathtub Regatta has been taking place on the river Maas in Dinant for the last 30 years. 50 proud bath tub captains battle it out for the title, based not only on speed, but also on creativity. A new theme is chosen every year and the tubs are judged on originality, creativity and how they have applied the theme to their “ship”. Ahoy captain! 

BIZARRE-O-METER: 7/10

Badewannenkapitäne in Belgien

Always wanted to be the captain of a ship? Register here 

© Getty

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