Marissa Cooke says there’s nothing like getting in amongst a completely random local festival for a super-unique travel experience. Baby jumping anyone?
So in honour of the silly season, here are our picks for Europe’s’ five weirdest fests:
Baby Jumping – Spain
El-Colacho, otherwise known as the Baby Jumping festival, held in June each year in Castrillo de Murcia in northern Spain makes The Running of the Bulls seem, well… meh.
This whacky Spanish fiesta involves a bunch of grown men dressed up as ‘The Devil’, in bright yellow and red suits jumping over babies lying on mattresses in the middle of the street…as you do. Why? Best not to ask too many questions about this bizarre tradition but simply add it to your bucket list and go check it out for yourself.
Cheese Rolling Festival – Coopers Hill, England
The Brits do wacky well and the ye olde pagan Cheese-Rolling Festival held in Gloucester each year is no exception. As you might expect, the festival involves cheese rolling (an 8 pound wheel of Double Gloucester down a hill to be precise) but as you might not expect, it also involves a bunch of Brits and thrill-seekers from around the world throwing themselves down the same ridiculously steep hill and rolling down uncontrollably in pursuit of said cheese.
You’ll be pleased to know the St John’s Ambulance service is always close at hand. Nothing says ‘good times’ like a bit of cheese rolling!
Fish-Swallowing Festival, Belgium
Once you’ve rolled down an incline after a wheel of cheddar, brush the grass off your knees and head to Belgium for a little fish-swallowing action. Swallowing a fish might not strike you as being particularly weird or wacky at first, until, that is, you realise the fish are still alive.
The last Sunday of every February, residents of Geraardsbergen in Belgium get together for a little old-fashioned fish swallowing as part of the Krakelingen festival, which commemorates an unsuccessful siege of the city. Besides throwing bread rolls, the locals gulp down small wriggling gray fishes called grondeling soaked in red wine.
Phallus Festival - Greece
On the first Monday of Lent, the tiny Greek town of Tyrnavos goes completely ‘penis crazy’ for the town’s famous pagan phallus carnival – an age-old, annual fertility festival.
What to expect: lewd songs, eating penis-shaped bread and kissing enormous ceramic model phalluses for good luck and future fertility. Have fun!
Mobile Phone Throwing Contest - Finland
Once you’ve ticked the Phallus Carnival off your weird-fest bucket list, you could always head North to Finland to try your hand at a little mobile phone throwing. This bizarre Finnish contest is held each year in the town of Savonlinna. It started in 2000 and has grown so popular it’s been taken up in cities around the world.
Contestants can choose to complete in ‘Traditional’ style - throwing a mobile phone backwards over your shoulder and counting the best of three attempts or a ‘Freestyle’ where contestants are awarded points for aesthetics and choreography.
Make sure you read the fine print before you enter though, because there are rules and regulations about the types (and weights) of allowable mobiles. It would be a shame to be disqualified for hurling the wrong model of Nokia!
(Image: Mike Warren)