The 10 weirdest festivals in the world

Hadaka Matsuri Japon

Strange and unusual festivals on Earth

On Earth, you can find anything. Even unlikely festivals. If you want to have a real good time, if weird and wacky things are to your taste, then you should take a look at these bizarre festivals organized all over the world. You won’t believe what people are capable of doing for fun or tradition… Listed below are some of the world’s strangest and most unique celebrations.

Kanamara Matsuri (Iron Penis Festival)


Every first Sunday in April, the inhabitants of the Japanese city of Kawasaki take part in a festival(see article), the Shinto Kanamara Matsuri. The penis, as the central theme of the event, is reflected in statues, sweets, carved vegetables, decorations and a mikoshi (mobile temple) parade. The Kanamara Matsuri is centered around the Kanayama Shrine, once frequented by prostitutes who came to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Legend has it that a demon with sharp teeth (vagina dentata) lurked inside a young woman’s vagina, and that two young men were castrated on their wedding night. As a result, the young woman sought the help of a blacksmith who fashioned her an iron phallus to break the demon’s teeth, leading to the consecration of the beloved object at this festival.

Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake

gloucester cheese

Flickr – brizzle born and bred

The Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake Festival takes place on the last Monday in May, near Gloucester, England. It is traditionally organized by and for the people of the town of Brockworth, but visitors from all over the world come to attend and even take part. Its name comes from the hill on which the famous Cheese-Rolling takes place, a 3.2 kg homemade Double Gloucester cheese release hurtling down the slope. In pursuit are competitors hoping to take the cheese home with them, provided they can catch it, which is not without injury (it’s happened a lot).

Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Man Festival)

Hadaka Matsuri Japon

Flickr – calltheambulance

A Hadaka Matsuri is a type of Japanese festival, or matsuri, in which participants wear very little clothing, usually only a Japanese loincloth, sometimes with a happi, but rarely totally nude. This festival is held in dozens of locations throughout Japan every year, usually in summer or winter. The most famous festival is the Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri, held in Okayama, where the festival originated. Dating back over 500 years, some 9,000 men take part in this naked man festival (Hadaka Matsuri). A Shinto priest throws a holy object (stick, jewel) into the crowd at midnight, and the men must fight over it until one of them keeps it safe. Tradition has it that if the « winning » man keeps the stick in a wooden box with rice, he’ll be happy all year round. It’s a much-loved tradition in Okayama.

Monkey buffet

buffet festival singes

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The Monkey Buffet Festival takes place every year in Thailand to promote tourism. While you might think this festival is a buffet of monkeys, it’s actually a buffet FOR monkeys. The number of macaque monkeys in Lopburi is so large that it would be considered a nuisance in almost any other part of the world. In Lopburi, however, they are revered. Considered the descendants of a warrior monkey, macaques are said by locals to bring « good fortune », and are allowed to roam freely among humans. To pay homage to these so-called good-luck monkeys, a festival is organized every year, with over 2,000 kg of fruit, vegetables and other treats offered to give the monkeys a real feast.

Gastronomic Festival of the Cat

chat et châton

The Festival Gastronómico del Gato takes place every year in Cañete, south of Lima in Peru, on Santa Ifigenia Day. The festival takes place in September, sacrificing around 50 cats for the occasion. The festival features a variety of dishes based on cat meat, including schnitzel, huacatay and cretons. The animals are bred and fattened especially for human consumption. According to popular belief, cat meat has aphrodisiac properties and prevents bronchial diseases.

El Salto del Colacho (baby jumping)

El Salto del Colacho, festival Espagne

Wikimedia – Celestebombin

This is one of Spain ‘s strangest annual festivals, held in the province of Burgos since 1621. During the festival, known as El Salto del Colacho (the devil’s jump) or simply El Colacho, men dressed as devils jump over babies born in the last twelve months and lying on mattresses in the street. The festival has been classified as one of the most dangerous in the world. The origins of this tradition are not known, but it is thought to be intended to purify babies of original sin, ensuring their protection in life against disease and evil spirits. The festival takes place on the first Sunday after Corpus Christi (late June).

Festa del Cornuto (Festival of the Horns)

Festa del cornuto Rocca Canterano, Italie

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Has your wife or girlfriend cheated on you? If so, this festival may be of some interest to you. Every year, Rocca Canterano, a town outside Rome, celebrates the Festa del Cornuto, the Festival of the Horns. In Italian culture, horns represent a man who has been deceived. This association dates back to the Roman Empire: many soldiers who went off to war for long periods received a pair of horns as a gift on their return. However, they often learned that their wives had cheated on them with another man while they were away. Thus, the term « cornuto » began to be linked to a man who had been deceived. At the Rocca Canterano festival, men who have been wronged by their other half parade through the streets, sometimes weeping or breaking objects given to them by their former lover. The parade is intended to honor and console the men.

Encierro in Pamplona (Fiestas de San Fermín)

San Fermín festival Espagne

Flickr – the.joberg

The bull run is part of the Fiesta de San Fermin, held from July 6 to 14 each year. Basically, a group of nervous bulls is let loose, chasing people through the streets for over 800 meters. The objective? Escape the bulls, each weighing half a ton. Since this tradition (an encierro) began in 1910, there have been almost 300 injuries and 15 fatalities. Despite the physical danger a bull can cause to a human being, especially during a bull run, these animals are highly respected among the Spanish people. The origin of this event stems from the need to transport the bulls from their pens to the bullring, where they are then killed in the evening. Youngsters would run among the bulls to show their bravery. The true origins of the race are thought to lie in north-eastern Spain in the early 14th century.

Roswell UFO Festival

Roswell Ovni Festival

Flickr – jer warren

The Roswell Affair, concerns the ground crash near Roswell, New Mexico(USA), in July 1947, of a purported alien spacecraft and its alien occupants. The Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) reported that a « flying disk » had been recovered from the scene. The following day, this statement was changed to indicate that a weather balloon had been recovered instead. This caused immediate controversy among the public, who almost certainly believed that aliens had landed and the government was trying to cover it up. More than 60 years later, the debate continues. To celebrate this belief that aliens have landed on Earth in the town of Roswell, an annual parade is held in which participants can dress up in alien costumes and attend short lectures given by experts on the subject. Whether you believe it or not, you’re welcome to join us every early July.

Balls festivals

Rocky Mountain Oysters

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The testicle festival (or Testy festy or Testicule Festival in English) is an event organized in several small towns in the USA in which animal testicles, usually well-cooked, are consumed. The oldest such festival is held in Byron, Illinois, and features turkey testicles. Similar festivals are held in Olean (Missouri), Oakdale (California), Huntley (Illinois) and Missoula (Montana), and some feature bull testicles.