We’ve all heard of film festivals. And music festivals are practically commonplace. Around the world, however, there are festivals that are anything but common. From world-class food fights to monkey-friendly buffets, a lot of them seem to involve food. Then again, there’s an actual “baby jumping” festival, so anything goes.
Here’s a breakdown of five of the strangest festivals from across the planet.
La Tomatina Festival
Held on the last Wednesday of each August, La Tomatina is a food-fighting festival of epic proportions. Held in the Spanish town of Buñol, roughly 20,000 people participate in the event each year — briefly doubling the town’s population.
“Technically the festival does not begin until one brave soul has climbed to the top of a two-story high, greased-up wooden pole and reached the coveted ham at the top,” La Tomatina Tours said on its website. “In practice this process takes a long time and the festival starts despite no one reaching the meaty prize. The signal for the beginning of the fight is the firing of water cannons — then the chaos begins, and it’s generally every man for himself.
“After an hour the fighting ends. At this point, no more tomatoes can be thrown. The cleaning process involves the use of fire trucks to spray down the streets, with water provided from a Roman aqueduct.”
Monkey Buffet Festival
Among the ruins of the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple in Lopburi, Thailand, there is a massive food festival held on the last Sunday of November. Called the “Monkey Buffet Festival,” as reported by Atlas Obscura, the event is a hearty offering of delicious fruits for the area’s macaques population.
The festival kicks off each year with an opening ceremony of dancers in monkey costumes, followed by an unveiling of towers built of fruit and vegetables for the monkeys.
Boryeong Mud Festival
South Korea hosts a festival each year dedicated to its unique and special land, specifically the mud. The Boryeong Mud Festival, according to Torn Tackies, is a celebration of the area’s famed mud, which is used to create a number of products due to its supposed anti-aging properties.
A two-week extravaganza, the festival begins in mid-July each year. From walking on the beach to playing in the mud zone, thousands of patrons from across the world can be seen caked in mud.
It’s a festival that’s all about having fun.
Battle of the Oranges
Citrus-loving globe trotters will want to add Ivrea, Italy, to their itineraries. According to the BBC, “Battle of the Oranges” dates back centuries and commemorates the town’s liberation from a tyrannical duke. The details of the festival’s grim past are dark indeed.
“The legend goes that the miller’s daughter, Violetta, cut off the duke’s head when he tried to claim his right to sleep with young brides on their wedding night,” the BBC reported. “This led the town to rise up and burn down the duke’s castle.”
Quite literally a battle, this festival can get crazy. Participants pelt each other with thousands of oranges in honor of the battle against the duke’s supporters.
Baby Jumping Festival
Once a year in mid-June, according to National Geographic, devils run wild in Spain’s Castrillo de Murcia. A representation of the triumph of good over evil, the festival is a blend of Catholic and pagan rituals that date back to the early 17th century.
Historians think the festival may have started as a fertility ritual, but today it features red and yellow-masked devils running through the streets and insulting villagers. For the grand finale, babies born in the village during the previous year are later laid on mattresses in the street as costumed men leap over them in a practice believed to absorb the children’s sins.