10 Odd But Kind Of Awesome Festivals Around the World
Underwater Music Festival
Florida, USA (July)
For the past 25 years, divers and music lovers go to the Florida Keys to attend the Underwater Music Festival. Music is played through underwater speakers while the some diver musicians, dressed in sea life costumes, play along on their sea themed instruments created by local artists. Instruments used in the festival have included a “sea-phan flute,” a “trom-bonefish” and a “fluke-a-lele.” Bill Becker, the founder and coordinator of the Underwater Music Festival, started it to raise awareness for coral preservation. He picks ocean themed songs like the classic “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles. Musicians who played in the festival include Paul McCarpney and Ringo Starfish.
El Salto del Colacho
Every year on the Feast of Corpus Christi in Castrillo de Murcia, Spain, locals bring their babies for a blessing ritual called El Salto del Colacho, which means devils jump. The babies are laid down on mattresses in the middle of the street, then a man dressed as a devil in a red and yellow suit jumps over them. The ritual is meant as an extension of Catholic baptism even though it is not endorsed by the Church. They believe it will ward off evil spirits from the babies lives. Afterwards the babies are covered in rose petals. This festival has been happening since the 1600’s and has only gotten more popular. It use to be just a town tradition but now people bring their babies from all over the region.
Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake
Cooper’s Hill, UK (May)
Every year on the Spring Bank holiday, the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake is held near Gloucester, England. It’s a tradition where a 7 to 9 pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down a steep hill and competitors try to chase it down and catch it. Actually catching the cheese is impossible because it can reach speeds of 70 miles per hour. The first competitor to cross the finish line at the bottom is the winner. It’s perhaps one of the world’s most dangerous foot races because of how steep the hill is. Some of the local rugby team members act as “catchers” to stop people from rolling when they lose their balance, which is probably everyone.. They also carry injured racers off the hill to get medical attention. Broken bones and concussions are common. This tradition is very old. The first written document of the race was in 1826, but it’s assumed to be much older than that. It use to be just a town tradition but now people from all of the world come to participate. Everyone goes to the local pubs for some liquid courage before and after the race.
In the town of Buñol in the Valencia region of Spain, anywhere from 9,000 locals and 40,000 foreigners gather together on the last Wednesday in August, to throw tomatoes at each other. The festival begins with a person climbing a greased up pole to get a cooked ham at the top. Once the ham is retrieved, water cannons are then fired at all the participants. Then literally tons of tomatoes are dumped into the streets for everyone to throw them at each other. One of the rules is, the participants have to squash the tomatoes in their hands before throwing them to avoid injuries. Usually the fight lasts about one hour, after which the entire town is covered in tomato. People hose themselves off while Fire trucks hose off the buildings. Because of the citric acid in the tomatoes, it’s actually works as a great cleaning agent.
The Battle of Oranges
Ivrea, Italy (February)
The Battle of Oranges is a festival held in the town of Ivrea, Italy. Like La Tomatina, it’s essentially a giant organized food fight. It involves thousands of townspeople, divided into 9 teams, who throw oranges at each other. Each team has their own colors and symbol. They were all created in different years spanning from 1947-1985. The legend of the origin of the festival is to commemorate the city’s defiance against their tyrannical Duke in 1194. After the evil Duke raped the Miller’s daughter, she cut off his head that sparked a revolution and the town rose up and destroyed his castle. Originally beans were thrown, then they switched to apples, then oranges. The oranges are meant to represent the stones thrown at the Duke’s castle to destroy it. Since oranges can’t grow in the region they have to import them from southern Italy.
Each April, at the end of their Ugadi festival, the village of Kairuppala come together for a street fight of throwing cow poop at each other. It’s said that anyone hit with the cow dung will be blessed with health and prosperity. The event signifies a mythological Hindu marriage dispute.The people are divided into two sides. One side throws the dung in the name of Goddess Bhadrakali and the other throws in the name of Lord Veerabhadraswarmy. After a winner is decided, everyone celebrates the two god’s wedding. The event is also thought to bring rain to the village as well.
The unofficial Finland summer holiday event called Beer Floating is usually held in the first weekend of August. It’s simply where people float down a river on rafts and drink tons of beer. So far it takes place on three different rivers in Finland; the Kerava, the Vantaa and the Oulu river. The first Beer Floating event was started in 1997. The event has no official organizer and not really an official reason either than to just have fun. Today it’s organized through social media and various internet forums. In 2015, the very first Amsterdam Beer Floating took place.
Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race
Brawby, UK (June)
The Yorkshire pudding Boat Race is a boat race where the racers sit in a giant Yorkshire pudding boat. Yorkshire pudding is a common English side dish made from batter consisting of eggs, flour and milk or water. It’s nothing like what Americans know as pudding, think of a boat made of something like a pie crust. The Yorkshire pudding boats have multiple coats of yacht varnish on them to keep them waterproof long enough to race them across Bob’s pond in the town of Brawby. It was created by Simon Thackray, who thought up the idea one day while he was day dreaming at a pub.
St Ninian’s Isle, Scotland (January)
Up-Helly Aa translates to “Up Holy Day”, which is the largest European fire festival to celebrate the Viking heritage in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. It’s held in the middle of winter to mark the yule season. It’s a 24 hour tradition on the last Tuesday in January, where men known as guizers dress as Vikings and the whole town sings songs. After dark they have a huge torch procession where they drag a viking longship replica known as “the galley.” When the galley is at its final resting spot everyone forms a giant circle around it and sing the traditional Up-Helly Aa song At the end of the song the guizers throw their torches at the galley to burn it down. After that they sing another song and then go party all night. Before this tradition, centuries back there was a yule (Christmas season) tradition where young men would drag barrels of burning tar through the towns to make mischief. The “tar-barreling” was banned in 1874 because it was dangerous and promoted drunkenness. That’s when they drew inspiration from their Viking heritage and came up with the modern festival taking place today.
Kanamara Matsuri Festival
Kanamara Matsuri translates to Festival of the Street Phallus. To put it bluntly, the festival revolves around dicks. It’s held every year in Kawasaki, Japan. Three penis-venerating shrines are paraded through the streets for an hour long procession. Then everyone eats a feast of local foods and phallic shaped lollipops and penis-carved fruits. The legend behind the festival is an odd one. There was a sharped tooth demon who fell in love with a woman. When that woman married the jealous demon hid inside her koochie and bit off the husband’s wiener on their wedding night. She remarried and it happened again. She sought help from the local Blacksmith and he made an iron phallus which broke the demon’s teeth. That iron phallus was then put into a shrine called the Kanayama Shrine where there town’s prostitutes would go and pray they wouldn’t get STD’s. Today the festival is about fertility for young married woman and it also raises funds for HIV research.