The Atlanta-Based Summer Redneck Games
This annual event is Atlanta’s version of the Olympic Games – where locals and champions embrace the redneck, hillbilly stereotype and get together to toss toilet seat covers, plunge for pig’s feet in in feet-bobbing barrels and bare their chests bravely for messy mud pit belly flops. Not only do these atypical athletes partake out of the kindness of their own hearts, unlike the actual Olympic Games, all the proceeds go to charity. Oh, and the Olympic torch is made out of beer cans.
The UK Cheese Rolling Festival
Deep in the heart of the British countryside, amidst the oft-overlooked green hills of Gloucestershire, lies Cooper’s Hill. Every year, during the two week summer where rain doesn’t pour forth on the unfortunate heads of the British folk, the annual cheese rolling festival takes place. Competitors begin by waiting at the very top of the hill, and wait as a giant wheel of double Gloucester cheese is thrown down the hill. The brave cheese enthusiasts then chase the cheese, hoping to catch it. Nobody ever catches the cheese, but the person who reaches the bottom of the hill first (and without getting injured on the way down) gets to take the cheese home!
The Japanese Crying Sumo Festival
Luckily for tourists, this festival takes place in Tokyo, which means you don’t have to navigate the impossible JR trains out into the suburbs and risk scaring the locals with your lack of Japanese. Taking place outside Sensouji Temple, this is a great location for first time visitors who will definitely want to visit the beautiful temple and souvenir market next door (called Nakamise – where you’ll find all the authentic masks, wall hangings, chop sticks and rice crackers at much better prices than those offered at Narita airport). Although the name suggests that this is a festival of crying sumo wrestlers, the tears actually come from the small babies held by the giant men. The two children are then encouraged to cry, and whichever sumo hold the child who cries the longest and loudest wins. (Supposedly this wards off evil spirits from the children, which is why parents willingly offer up their babies to take part).
The Tunisian International Sahara Festival
This festival takes place during four days around Christmas, but will definitely be unlike any other Christmas time celebration you’ve ever seen. The setting is in the heart of the Sahara desert in Douz. Activities for festivalgoers include watching as a woman belly dances whilst balancing seven pots on her head, or witnessing young men race camels through the desert. There’s also a rodeo where men stand atop horses, and then hold children up in the air above them, as their horse continues to amble around. The location is a little difficult to get to, and if you want a taste of real Tunisia you might fare better visiting some of the other towns such as Sousse, which is very lively and popular for tourists, or Hamammet which is great for water sports enthusiasts.
The Japanese Penis Festival
Back to Japan again for this final weird festival (the country has an enormous number of festivals, ranging from tiny village affairs to enormous parades through the streets of central Tokyo). This time, the festival is in Kawasaki City, which is only a 30 minute train ride from Shibuya (this is central Tokyo – the place where they have the giant crossing). Then it’s just a short walk from the station to Kanayami Shrine.The festival takes place here because, according to legend, sex workers would visit this shrine and pray not to be stricken with diseases. Although you’d expect this event to be purely adult-only, children wander freely, admiring the giant penis statues, the penis-shaped radishes carried through the streets, and chew on penis shaped sweets. A very unusual Sunday afternoon indeed.
Have you been to any festivals you think are even more abnormal than these? Let us know!