“I want to do something fun and interesting for my next holiday!” Sound familiar? If so, read on. We’ve collated an assortment of quirky festivals and active events to keep you occupied in unusual ways.
For the Foodies
The Battle of Oranges – Ivrea, Italy
Every year, the people of Ivrea recreate a historic revolt against the king by splitting into teams and hurling over 250 tonnes of oranges at each other. Considered Italy’s biggest food fight, it’s no easy feat dodging citrus cricket balls.
The Flour Fight Festival – Ibi, Alicante, Spain
Eggs, flour, and exploding fireworks commemorate ‘Els Enfarinats’, a festival tradition over 200 years old. For one day a year, the ‘Enharinados’, the underdogs, seize control of the town and use food to fend off advances from those who wish to restore order – all in the name of charity.
La Batalla del Vino – La Rioja, Spain
More than 500 litres of red wine is used to soak locals and visitors in celebration of the saints of San Juan, San Felices and San Pedr. The skirmish takes place at the historic pilgrimage site of Riscos de Bilibio, in the foothills of the Obarenes Mountains. Some believe the battle stemmed from the practice of using wine instead of water in baptisms.
Underwater Music Festival – Looe Key Reef, Florida, USA
At this subaquatic sound experience, musical mermaids, snorkellers, and divers dress up and rock out to a bespoke, ocean-themed playlist. Taking place in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the festival encourages continued respect and protection of the Keys’ coral reef ecosystem.
Air Guitar World Championship – Oulu, Finland
Legend has it that this annual event was born from the ideology that “wars would end and all the bad things would go away if everyone just played air guitar”. The competition draws contestants from around the world and the final showcase is open to everyone – no age limit or entrance fee.
Song And Dance Festival – Riga, Latvia
This Latvian festival is considered one of the world’s largest amateur choral and dancing events. A cultural traditional since 1873, more than 40,000 Latvian performers come together every five years to celebrate their national identity and heritage.
Carnival – Trinidad & Tobago
What’s not to love about calypso and soca? If the answer is ‘absolutely nothing’, sign up for a colourful costume and take your rightful place in the Carnival parade. If dancing ain’t your thang, get amongst the stick fighting or limbo competitions or simply immerse yourself in the ‘biggest street party on Earth’.
Down and Dirty
World Bog Snorkelling Championships – Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
Imagine swimming 110 metres as fast as you can in a water-filled trench cut through a peat bog. The world record stands at 1 min 18.81 secs and fancy dress is encouraged. If that’s not enough, try the Bog Triathlon comprised of a 13 kilometre run, a 19 kilometre mountain bike ride, and a 55 metre bog snorkel.
Boryeong Mud Festival – South Korea
What began as clever marketing by Boryeong’s cosmetic industry to promote the restorative, nutrient-rich mud, has morphed into an international tourist event. Hailed as an all-natural balm for the body and soul, the mud-based festival offers wrestling, massage, sculpting, skiing, slides, treatments and more.
Wattolümpiade (Mud Olympics) – Brunsbüttel, Germany
Dedicated to helping cancer patients and their families, fun-loving teams from Germany and local countries converge on the coastal town of Brunsbüttel to compete in mud volleyball, football, handball, and sledge-racing. Prizes are awarded to event winners as well as the team with the most original outfit.
Sinchon Water Gun Festival – Seoul, South Korea
Beat the summer heat and take your pistols to the streets of Seoul. Epic water gun battles, music, and dance performances feature at this free event. You can either bring your own water gun or buy a memorable souvenir to squirt friends and strangers.
Songkran Festival Thailand
This festival marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year and the throwing of water has become a huge part of the annual celebrations. Prepare to be soaked as people wander the streets with buckets, water pistols, and big cheeky grins.
Colourful and Creative
World Bodypainting Festival – Klagenfurt, Austria
A visual and cultural spectacular, the festival is a celebration of body painting and the staging of the human body as an art object. Painters, photographers, designers, musicians, and experimental performers create high-quality works amidst an open-air art space.
Holi Festival – India
Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival signifying the arrival of spring and the end of winter. It includes time to play and laugh, forget and forgive, meet others and repair relationships. Rangwali Holi, the second day, is celebrated as a free-for-all festival of colours where water guns and balloons are used to drench people in coloured powder.
International Balloon Fiesta – Albuquerque, USA
Full of riotous colour and plenty of hot air, the nine-day New Mexico balloon festival offers a pretty special view of the Rio Grande Valley. With over 500 balloons participating it is the largest ballooning event on earth.
Land Art Festival – Slama, Osijek, Croatia
Event organizer and sculptor, Nikola Faller, is an ambassador in bringing people closer to Mother Nature and has a passion for raising consciousness and expression through art. Slama Land Art includes elaborate sculptures made from straw and each festival is curated around a specific theme.
Turkish Highline Carnival – Geyikbayiri, Antalya, Turkey
Welcome to the week-long slackline festival where music, dancing, camping, costumes, and juggling are key ingredients for a fun time. The region is well known for its sport climbing walls and routes so there is plenty on offer for those that love to get high.
World Toe Wrestling Championships – Ashbourne, UK
Both male and female competitors are drawn to this annual toe tussle. Using a mix of skill and strength they go at it for around an hour, with winners proclaimed after a best-of-three match. Nurses do a pre-game check for fungus and hidden weapons and referees make sure everyone toes the line.
Bay to Breakers – San Francisco, USA
Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the 12 kilometre annual footrace was designed to lift the spirits of locals. Since then, it’s grown to be one of the most popular USA footraces and its reputation for festive practices and costume oddities has cemented its place as a national treasure. Why not join teams of human centipedes, Blues Brothers and Superheroes at the finish line party?
Bike Week – Crested Butte, Colorado
A four-day celebration of all things mountain bike. Races, films, clinics, free guided rides, kids’ activities, fun tours, costumes and the Chainless World Championships in which riders coast downhill without bike chains.