Weird World Festivals

Well, we’ve passed the August bank holiday, signalling the end of the Great British summer. And the Notting Hill Carnival and Reading and Leeds festivals closed the curtain on the UK festival season. So you’d be excused a little despondency at the prospect of a long party-free winter ahead. It’s not all doom and gloom though as we’ve found some weird and wonderful festival around the world to tide you over until next summer:

Late August – La Tomatina, Bunol, Valencia

No one really knows how this event started despite the fact that it only dates back to 1945, well within living memory. For one day, and one day only, 50,000 tourists – 5 times the population of Bunol – descend on this sleepy town in Valencia for the annual La Tomatina festival. During the course of the day tens of metric tons of over ripe tomatoes are hurled around the town covering everyone, and everything in sticky red slime. As quickly as it began, the festival ends again, the tourists leave and the disgruntled residents and shop owners of Bunol set about the cleanup operation.

December 23rd – Night of the Radishes, Oaxaca, Mexico

Where the English have nativity plays and Christmas tree decorations, the residents of Oaxaca in Mexico have enormous radishes. For weeks in advance, artisans sculpt their radishes into weird and wonderful shapes and sculptures for display in the town square. The detail and variety that is achieved is quite astonishing as these vegetable creations act out village scenes, nativity plays and historical and mythological tales. Townsfolk process around the displays before the evening is capped off by a firework display and – presumably – a massive salad.

Friday 21st to Wednesday 26th January 2011 – Tunarama, Port Lincoln, Australia

Originally founded to give fisherman a send off at the start of the tuna fishing season, this festival has persisted even with the advent of modern fishing techniques. Now in its 49th year, Tunarama is five days of tuna-themed fun, including tuna street parades, fireworks and a ‘slippery pole’ competition. The highlight of the festival, however, is the Tuna Toss which is a bit like the Olympic hammer toss… with a tuna. The growing fame of this event draws competitors from around the world and 2011 will be no exception with participants lining up to beat the record throw of 37.23 metres.

May – El Colacho, Castrillo de Murcia, Castille

With spring in full bloom and the British summer well on its way, round up the international festival season with El Colacho in the little village of Castrillo de Murcia. Not for the faint hearted, this festival involves a bunch of satanic men exorcising the village’s newly borns. The exorcists are dressed up in red and yellow outfits replete with devil horns, whips and truncheons. The crowd are roused up by a few whip cracks in their direction and then the event begins. The babies are laid out on the ground for the devils to jump over. It’s hard to watch, but supposedly, as the devils pass over the infants they draw the evil out of them, leaving them in a state of pure goodness ready to face the life ahead of them.