Everyone enjoys a great party, but these festivals might just take it to the next level. There are unusual events to be found in every country on each continent, so plan your travels to coincide with one of these unique gatherings.
Wife Carrying Championships – Sonkajärvi, Finland
Grab your wife and prepare to carry her across a 253.5-meter track that’s full of obstacles. If you’re able to complete the task and you’re the winner, you get your wife’s weight in beer. Now there’s an incentive to compete! The exact origins of wife carrying are unknown, and the Finns aren’t the only ones who do it. However, they can claim the creation of wife carrying into a sport. Participants can carry their wives three ways—piggyback, in a firefighter’s hold, or Estonian-style, where the wife is upside down. Spectators can enjoy the wife-carrying activities, beer, and traditional Finnish food.
Buso Festival – Mohacs, Hungary
Attempting to chase away the winter, this festival is a cornerstone of the Hungarian festival season, Farsang. There are plenty of other events similar to the Buso festival, but Buso is undoubtedly the main one. Located in the town of Mohacs near the Hungarian border with Croatia, the festival has been around since the 1700s. Revelers dress up as horned devils, or “busos” in Hungarian, to try to scare the cold weather away. Occurring annually in either late February or early March, it’s an excellent way to dust off the winter blues and get excited for the warmer months ahead.
Baby Jumping Festival – Castrillo de Murcia, Spain
Happening annually 60 days after Easter, this old-world festival is a baptismal ceremony for babies born during the previous year. The custom is ancient, dating back to the early 15th century, where local residents were certain that babies needed to be cleansed of sin in order to live and survive. The festival takes place during the village feast of Corpus Christi, but no one is exactly sure how the tradition got started. The current interpretation is just as if it happened way back then – the men of the village wear “devilish” clothing and terrorize the crowd before jumping over babies who have been laid on pillows.
Cheese Rolling Festival – Gloucestershire, England
Toward the tail end of May, adults and children gather at Brockworth, a small village nestled in the English countryside, to chase a 9-pound wheel of cheese down a steep hill. This small-scale festival draws about 5,000 people every year, and though some injuries have been reported over the years, the festival is largely unmanaged. Those interested in participating in the race have to qualify beforehand. The race is very dangerous for competitors and festival-goers because of the steep terrain and the unevenness of the hill. Previous festival reports indicate that the wheel of cheese can roll up to 70 miles per hour!
Underwater Music Festival – Looe Key Reef, Florida
Get a look at America’s only surviving coral reef and listen to sea-themed music underwater at this fun eco-friendly festival. Designed to encourage environmental stewardship and sustainability, the festival has been running for over three decades. The festival isn’t very widely attended, which means it’s the ideal experience for newer divers or those who want some quality time on the ocean floor. Music is pumped into the water via speakers set on boats above the coral reef, and participants at the festival generally report being able to clearly hear the underwater tunes. Participants are encouraged to grab a costume before attending, play instruments underwater, and compete for prizes.
International Hair Freezing Contest – Whitehorse, Canada
The Yukon province is one of Canada’s coldest, so it’s a fitting location for the International Hair Freezing contest. This strange festival is a festive February celebration that draws people from around the world. Where else can participant dunk their heads in hot water and then create hairdos that freeze in the frigid temperatures? There’s no specific date for the festival; instead, organizers monitor the weather closely, and when it’s cold enough, send out the call. Generally, the festival weather is around 22 Fahrenheit, but it’s worth it: The winner of the competition receives a cash prize.
No matter which of these festivals seem strange or weird enough to attend, they all offer something unique. Stretch your travel horizons when you attend one of these unusual festivals and come away with an amazing tale to tell.