Pack your bags and get ready for the stranger side of festuvals and cultural oddities
Up Helly Aa
Essentially, it’s a fire festival (with much drinking) to celebrate the Shetland Isles Viking heritage – by day there are processions and visitations, by night the torches are lit and the final procession culminates in the burning of a Viking Galley Ship – spectacular to say the least and if you’re in Scotland at the end of January this is a must see!
By Schwindp [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Yes indeed – held in various small towns in the US, the Testicle Festival has been around for decades – primarily, it’s all about eating testicles – Turkey testicles deep-fried in batter however if you fancy a bit more of a mouthful, Bulls testicles (aka Rocky Mountain Oysters) can also be consumed. There’s live music, wet t-shirt competitions and the Undie 500 where beer is drunk, tricycles are raced and clothes are removed….I’ll leave that with you…
Wed 1 – Sun 5 August 2018
Oakdale, CA & Missoula, MT, USA
I’m guessing most of you have heard of this one, the streets run red in Buñol, Spain once a year when over 100 tonnes of ripe tomatoes are the weapon of choice for a running street battle. There are no friends, no allies, no comrades – you’re on your own and it’ll get messy…very messy…
Still in Spain, this one dates back to the 1620s and is exactly as it sounds – newborns are laid out and grown men dressed as devils jump over the babies to cleanse them of all evil – tied in with the Catholic festival of Corpus Christi, visit any other town in Spain and you’ll witness grand processions and great feasting, visit Sasamón and you get men leaping over teeny tiny people.
By Jtspotau [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)
Kanamara Matsuri (aka Festival of the Steel Phallus)
Aaaand we’re back to male genitalia again and they’re everywhere. From parades featuring penis shaped shrines to penis shaped lollipops there’s no getting away from the one-eyed trouser snake here. Legend has it that a demon with v sharp teeth, hid inside the vagina of the woman he fell in love with and proceeded to bite the penises off her two husbands on their wedding nights. Seeking help, the local smithy fashioned an iron penis to break the demon’s teeth. Since then, prostitutes have used the Kanayama Shrine to pray for protection from STDs…
Sun 7 April 2019 - Kawasaki, Japan
By stealth3327 [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons