2008 wacky festival calendar

There’s nothing like a list of bizarre yet totally real festivals that are locally and/or nationally celebrated around the world. So if you have a strange travel fetish for all things beckoning yet bonkers, The Australian’s list might just help you finalize your year’s plans:

  • 26 January, BrisbaneWorld Cockroach Championships: I’m not sure I’ve heard of anything madder. The Story Bridge Hotel has been running this for the last 26 years; maybe something to tag for next year if you’re on that side of the Pacific.
  • 2-6 February, Rio De JaneiroCarnival: The savage 4-day samba festival that we all know about.
  • January-April, Japan — “Hanami” parties celebrating cherry blossom time.
  • 22 March, India — Holi:(am inserting this one in from my end!) Holi celebrates the beginning of Spring and is played nationwide by throwing water, color and varnish on everyone you know and see; alcohol is drunk and opium is consumed throughout the country on this day. Well worth scheduling into your India trip.
  • 13-15 April, ThailandSongkran Water Festival: Similar to Holi, but just involves drenching people with water.
  • 26 May, Gloucester, EnglandCooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake: People race down a slope in pursuit of a 4kg slab of Gloucester cheese. Huh?
  • 22 June, Derbyshire, England — World Toe Wrestling Championship: I suppose it’s like thumb wrestling, but with a MUCH higher level of difficulty. What do I hear? You’ve never thumb wrestled?!
  • 7-14 July, Pamplona, Spain — Bull running festival: Bulls are let out to run on the streets, accompanied by locals; the run is full speed and only lasts a few minutes.
  • 27 August, Bunyol, Spain — Tomatina: People spend an hour throwing tomatoes at each other from trucks that bring in 40,000 kilos of them. Clothes get ripped off, eyes get red from the acid, body gets bruised because not all tomatoes are nice and soft!
  • 20 September – 5 October, Munich, Germany — We all know about Oktoberfest!
  • October, Toronto, Canada — World Rock Paper Scissor Championships! This game is often taken seriously in decision making processes, so I suppose a championship of the same shouldn’t be surprising!
  • 7-13 November, Pushkar, India — Camel Fair: 50,000 camels are decorated, shaved, raced and traded alongside donkeys, cattle and horses.
  • 29 December-2 January, Scotland — The Scots indulge in unique ways (dog sled races, torch-light processions) of bringing in the new year with their Hogmanay celebrations.

For full festival details and links, check out The Australian.

I’m sure there are a zillion more quirky festivals world round. They are normally celebrated on a small scale, so we don’t often get to hear about them. Any you’d like to share?