10 Most Unusual Festivals Around the World

When it comes to festivals around the world most people have heard of Carnival in Rio De Janeiro or the Oktoberfest in Munich but there is a whole other weird and wacky world out there. If you are looking to expand your horizons and are keen to visit some truly unique festivals from location to concept then these festivals are worth adding to your bucket list.

Source: The Telegraph

1. Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake – Gloucestershire, England, UK

🗓️ Takes place in May

This is is for all you cheese lovers out there. This annual festival held in the heart of Gloucestershire in Southwest England has gained global traction over the years for being one of the world’s most unusual events. Possibly the most British occasion you may witness, the festival involves large crowds gathering to watch participants race down a steep hill chasing large cheese wheels. Yes, you heard correctly, this outlandish competition is thought to date back 600 years ago and the locals have kept the tradition alive to date.

Gloucester is well known for its semi-hard cheese which has been made in the region since the 16th century. The competition is a dangerous sport with participants hurling themselves downhill to keep up with the nine-pound cheese wheel. So if you find yourself in England around the Spring bank holiday and looking for something spontaneous, be sure to check out this unusual event.

Source: Youtube

2. Boryeong Mud Festival – Boryeong, South Korea

🗓️ Takes place in May

Fancy living out your childhood dream of rolling around in fresh mud? This annual festival does just that. Situated in the village of Boryeong, 200km south of Seoul in South Korea, the festival was originally created as a marketing ploy to promote Boryeong mud cosmetics and help boost the Boryeong economy. The mud is taken from Boryeong mud flats and is considered to have many beneficial qualities rich with minerals. Now it is seen globally as a place to frolic in the mud with your friends and enjoy festivities such as a mud pool, mud prison, mud slides and even mud skiing competitions.

Tickets vary depending on the type of experience you are looking for so be sure to book in advance. If you are looking for a fun day out whilst in South Korea, the festival takes place in the summer and is one worthy of your bucket list festivals.

Source: Tampa Bay Times

3. Underwater Music Festival – Looe Key Reef, Florida, USA

🗓️ Takes place in July

Calling all music lovers who also love the ocean. Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival is truly one of a kind and was ultimately created to promote reef protection. Taking place at Loo Key Reef, the festival aims to introduce participants to the wonders of the coral reef and promotes the importance of protecting the reef and environmentally responsible diving. Taking place in July, divers and snorkelers take to the water and are encouraged to wear costumes and play ‘underwater instruments’ to compete for prizes. A local radio station broadcasts the goings on underwater and plays sea related music through speakers which are suspended under boats above the reef.

If you are interested in learning more about environmental sustainability within the reef, this unique festival is perfect for you.
Source: Emknowsplaces

4. La Tomatina - Buñol, Spain

🗓️ Takes place in August

Perhaps one of the most bizarre festivals on the planet, get ready to immerse yourself in one big food fight set in the town of Buñol, Spain. Held on the 28th August every year, this bizarre festival includes participants throwing tomatoes at each other purely for entertainment purposes. Known as the biggest food fight in the world, the festival has been a strong tradition in Buñol since 1945. Although it is not exactly known how the festival originated, there are many wacky theories of how it started such as local food fight among friends. What is known is that the festival is in honour of the town’s patron saints Mare de Deu dels Desemparats and Luis Bertran.

If you are planning to add this to your travel itinerary make sure to book accommodation far in advance to avoid disappointment. Due to the town being relatively small, most visitors stay in the nearby city of Valencia and make a day trip to the festival.

Source: OH! Matsuri

5. Hokkai Heso Matsuri - Furano, Japan

🗓️ Takes place in July

This unique summer festival was created by the locals of Furano in Hokkido taking inspiration from their geographical location. The idea was to unify and revitalise Furano's people by taking inspiration from their location. Furano is located in the very middle of Hokkaido, similar to the belly button being the centre of one’s body, hence the festival also being referred to as Furano belly button festival. This is how the festival was born with dancers take to the streets, painting their bodies as quirky characters with the belly button used as the mouth. This humorous festival is truly a one of a kind and an unforgettable spectacle. Make sure to mark July 28th and 29th in your calendar as this is when the streets of Furano really come alive.

Source: UofSC

6. Monkey Buffet Festival - Lopburi, Thailand

🗓️ Takes place in November

If you thought you had seen it all then think again. This festival held in Lopburi, north of Bangkok, honours and celebrates the towns fury friends with a bountiful banquet. A feast is held in celebration of Lopburi’s thousands of macaques, thought to bring good luck to its local community and surrounding areas. Respect for monkeys has always been acknowledged in these areas as they are believed to bring good luck and prosperity so the annual buffet pays homage to them. Kicking off with an opening ceremony, the festival then proceeds to reveal decorative spreads filled with a range of fruits and vegetables. If you are keen to join, it is good to note there are other food stands for human attendees so no stealing the macaques food.

Planning a trip to Thailand? Check out our guide to its best islands depending on your vibe.

Source: Times Now

7. International Kite Festival (Uttarayan) - Gujarat, India

🗓️ Takes place in January

Marking the end of the winter months in the Hindu calendar and the turning into summer, the festival of Uttarayan celebrates with a colourful display of kites of all shapes and sizes. Held in the city of Ahmedabad, people take to the rooftops and roadways to fly kites and show off their unique creations. Many kite makers from around the world demonstrate their unusual kites and battle with other kite-flyers by trying to bring down each other’s kites by cutting their strings. Special kites are manufactured specifically for the festival which are often made with bamboo frames and resilient kite bodies.

This international festival is also held in other cities of India, so if you happen to find yourself travelling through India and want to check out this unique display of kites and their different locations then don’t forget to mark this in your travel calendar.

Source: Finding the Universe

8. Up Helly Aa - Shetland Islands, Scotland

🗓️ Takes place in January

Since the 1880s, this annual festival is held to mark the end of the yule season. This festival is a community event held in various locations across Shetland, Scotland. Celebrating Scotland's Viking heritage, participants take to the streets dressed as Vikings complete with helmets, armour and large torches. The biggest procession is held in Lerwick, where 100 touches are paraded through the Scottish streets, ending with the burning of a Viking style galley. After this, various squads retreat to local halls to perform prepared dances and acts. The festivities continue to the morning with a variety of goings-on from day to night.

If you want to witness some true Scottish Viking culture then make sure to book in advance as there are also many attractions and activities that Shetland has to offer.

Source: A Gringo In Mexico

9. Night of the Radishes – Oaxaca, Mexico

🗓️ Takes place in December

Planning to take a trip to Mexico in December and looking for something out of the ordinary? This one is for you. This annual event held in Oaxaca labelled ‘night of the radishes’ is dedicated to the carving of oversized radishes. Using locally sourced radishes, competitors carve out various scenes of everyday Oaxacan as well as mythical creatures, wild animals and so forth.

This comical carving event dates back to 1897 when the Mayor of Oaxaca decided to make this event part of the Christmas market festivities.

If you are wondering why radishes are involved, it’s due to the fact that this vegetable has always been integral to Oaxaca’s Christmas cuisine as both a decorative element and an essential ingredient. In general Oaxaca is known for its arts and crafts such as wood work and papier-mache sculptures, so the night of the radishes is another event that showcases the creativity the state brings to the rest of Mexico.

Source: Prime Media Plus

10. Hermanus Whale Festival – Hermanus, Cape Town, South Africa

🗓️ Takes place in September

This iconic festival is internationally recognised as the only eco-marine festival in the world. A gathering of over 100,00 visitors take to Hermanus on South Africa’s Garden Route to bear witness to the ocean’s Southern Right Whales. Over a three-day period, the festival aims to educate visitors on conservation and ernvironmental education. This hot spot speaks for itself with its beautiful coastline and unique habitats on both sea and land. During the festival you will be able to whale watch and even catch calves in the water as well as enjoy other festivities such as live music, food, art and crafts and more.

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Get paradise inspired with our Festivals series.

When each festival takes place

🧀 Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling Festival


🇰🇷 Boryeong Mud Festival


🤿 Underwater Music Festival


🍅 La Tomatina


🎎 Hokkai Heso Matsuri


🐒 Money Buffer Festival


🪁 International Kite Festival (Uttarayan)


⚔️ Up Helly Aa


🇲🇽 Night of the Radishes


🐳 Hermanus Whale Festival


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Nicole Gruss
February 18, 2024

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