The World’s Weirdest Festivals

Worlds Weirdest Festivals Cheese Rolling
Cheese Rolling Festival. Photo by Dave Farrance. License: CC BY-SA 3.0.

Exploring the world’s weirdest festivals reveals some truly unique and eccentric celebrations.

From the chaotic Cheese Rolling Festival, where participants tumble down a hill chasing a wheel of cheese, to the International Sahara Festival, which features camel races and pot-balancing contests in the desert, these events are nothing short of extraordinary. In Thailand, the Monkey Buffet Festival sees thousands of kilograms of food laid out for monkeys to feast on, while Spain’s Ant Throwing Festival includes the quirky tradition of hurling vinegar-soaked ants.

Let’s dive into these fascinating festivals and discover the strange and wonderful ways people celebrate around the globe.

The Cheese Rolling Festival

Every year in the West Country one very unusual annual festival takes place. The cheese rolling festival of Cooper’s Hill is infamous for its sheer inexplicable concept, and involves a wheel of cheese battling humans to the bottom of the hill.

The small cheese wheel is usually much faster than the rolling, running and falling humans who arrive at the bottom in various states of injury. The fastest person to arrive at the finish line, however, receives the wheel of cheese to take home.

There are several races, which are separated by category (men/women/children). Gloucestershire is as difficult to pronounce as it is to spell (try saying it glo-ster-sher’ for a true West Country pronunciation) and is about 3 hours by car from London.

Cheese Rolling Festival photo by Dave Farrance. License: CC BY-SA 3.0.

The International Sahara Festival

The most unusual part of this festival is the setting; right in the heart of the world’s third largest desert. Events range from women balancing pots on their heads, camel fights, camel races and rodeos where men stand atop moving camels.

The festival takes place over the Christmas period and lasts for a total of 4 days. If you’ve had enough of sand and dust blowing in your face, head to coastal towns such as Sousse where there are plenty of activities and shopping options for a return to civilization! Nearby Hamammet is also a popular option for watersports enthusiasts.

The Monkey Buffet Festival

In Western countries, monkeys are fawned over and admired for being exotic, yet in Asia they’re often pesky nuisances who steal food and torture locals.

The Monkey Buffet Festival in Lopburi Province, Thailand is one occasion when the greed of these tiny delinquents is played up to, as locals feed them with around 4,000kg of cakes, sweets, biscuits and fruits. These offerings are all laid out on tables at the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple for the monkeys to enjoy, as locals watch on as the mighty feast ensues.

Ant Throwing Festival

The Spanish go wild for the New Year, with several festivals and traditions that make the country a spectacularly lively location.

As people prepare for lent, those local to Galicia celebrate the final feasting opportunities before the annual fast by running through the streets of towns with lit torches of hay and eating pig’s heads. On the Monday following Ash Wednesday everyone then gathers to douse each other in flour, rags and ants – which have been riled up for the occasion by being submerged in vinegar.

Been to any weird festivals you think can top this? Let us know!

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Paul Tomaszewski is a science & tech writer as well as a programmer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of CosmoBC. He has a degree in computer science from John Abbott College, a bachelor's degree in technology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed some business and economics classes at Concordia University in Montreal. While in college he was the vice-president of the Astronomy Club. In his spare time he is an amateur astronomer and enjoys reading or watching science-fiction. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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