From baby jumping to worm charming and meringue fights. We’ve put together a list of some odd but amazing festivals.
Bolas de Fuego (Fireball Festival), Nejapa, El Salvador
This often-chaotic festival takes place every year on August 31, when two warring groups take to the streets with balls of cloth soaked in kerosene. They light the rags on fire and hurl them at each other at close range. Why? To commemorate a volcanic eruption that took place in 1922, which legend says was a battle between San Jeronimo, the local patron saint, and the devil. The festival is a tribute to this legendary event, but that doesn’t stop it from turning into an unregulated battleground.
Photograph: ElmerGuevara / Creative Commons
La Merengada, Vilanova I La Geltrú, Spain
This annual family-friendly festival is a massive, delicious food fight! People fling meringue, pies, and cream at each other in this sugary battle that takes place on Fat Thursday during the Carnival week, which is typically held in February. The festival is also called Batalla de Caramelos or Candy Fight, and participants usually don ponchos to protect themselves from the sticky sweets and candy that gets thrown once the dessert is all over.
Photograph: Ajuntament de Vilanova i la Geltrú/Flickr
The Baby Jumping Festival, Castillo de Murcia, Spain
Yes, you read that right; local tradition dictates that during the feast of Corpus Christi ‘the devil’ has to jump over babies, born over the last year, to absolve them of sin. Babies are carefully laid out on mattresses and men dressed in red and yellow costumes, representing the devil, terrorise the crowd and then jump over the babies laid out on the streets. The custom dates back to the 1600 and is known to locals as El Colacho.
Photograph: Viaggio Routard / Flickr
International Festival of Worm Charming, Blackawton, UK
Sure, we’ve heard of snake charming, but what in the world is worm charming? Well, it turns out this is quite a popular sport, with the International Festival of Worm Charming taking place each year in a small village in South Devon. Since 1984 competitors have been tasked with doing whatever is necessary to get worms to come out of the ground. Easy techniques like digging or forking are not allowed.
Photograph: Blackawton International Festival of Worm Charming
Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland, US
Started in 2002, Frozen Dead Guy Days is an annual event that celebrates a famous frozen corpse. Since the 1990s, Bredo Morstoel’s grandson Trygve Bauge has kept Bredo’s body cryopreserved in Nederland. The notoriety led to this popular three-day March festival where there are coffin races, frozen guy lookalike contests and a hearse parade.
Photograph: Daniel Oberhaus / Flickr
Boryeong Mud Festival, Boryeong South Korea
Held in the summer in a beach town about 200 km from Seoul, this mud festival attracts participants from around the world. The mud flats around the town are considered to be very rich in minerals and therefore good for the skin. The festival started as a way to promote the mud, and has gone on to become one of the largest festivals in South Korea. Participants take part in a mud-slinging fest that sees them covered in the grey mud. Then there are the mud wrestling competitions, mud skiing competitions, mud races, mudslides, and a whole host of mud-related activities that are spread across two weeks.
Photograph: Hypnotica Studios Infinite/Creative Commons
Night of the Radishes, Oaxaca, Mexico
Every year, farmers from around Oaxaca gather together on December 23 to show off their carving skills. Abnormally large radishes are carved to create elaborate historical scenes and figures, all of which compete for prizes. Known in Spanish as Noche de Los Rábanos, the festival originated in the colonial period, when farmers would carve radishes to draw customers’ attention during the popular Christmas market. It became a formal competition in 1897.
Photograph: AlejandroLinaresGarcia / Creative Commons