It’s been a while since I kept you all updated on the weirder side of travel, so I’ve cobbled together a round-up of the world’s weirdest festivals taking place this summer, for globetrotters of a more ‘specialist’ interest
If you’re thinking of taking a jolly summer holiday to Spain next month, you could be in for an eye-opening experience when heading to the northern village of Castrillo de Murcia, near Burgos, to observe the time-honoured local tradition of baby jumping – certainly not one for the faint-hearted!
I’ve spoken briefly before about this downright bizarre event, which has been celebrated in the town since 1620 and is based around the national holiday of Corpus Christi. It involves local men dressed as colourful devils leaping over rows of babies in the street, in the belief that this will cleanse the young ones of evil. It’s not only the babies that are in harm’s way either, as it seems everyone in the town is fair game to be terrorised by the organisers, according to the tradition!
Now, I should probably make it clear that I’m not condoning the unwise and potentially risky activity, but – just like the Annual Nettle-Eating Contest taking place at the Bottle Inn in Dorset on June 12 and 13 – it’s a tradition that refuses to be put down by health and safety, and that stands proudly opposed to common sense!
Another oddity a little closer to home, that shouldappeal to the especially lethargic, is the World Snail Racing Championship, which Norfolk has proudly (or perhaps regrettably) hosted for more than 25 years. With the feisty molluscs capable of completing the 13-inch table-top course in as little as two minutes (a record set by Archie – the Usain Bolt of the snail world), it’s an event racing fans won’t want to miss…
Well alright, so maybe not – but never fear, as there are further off-the-wall racing events out there that promise much excitement and laughs. My favourite has to be the Two Harbors Outhouse Race in Minnesota, which takes place in February if you’re looking for something to tide you over the harsh winter months. Probably the most creative use you could find for a toilet, the event involves dedicated teams putting their DIY skills to the test and turning public conveniences into race champions.
If you’re looking for something even further afield, nature fans could love the Monkey Buffet Festival in Thailand, taking place in November. If you’re worried this is sounding even crueller than the baby jumping festival I’ll put your mind at ease – it’s actually a wonderful event where around 600 monkeys are invited to enjoy fine dining at a huge table of fruit and vegetables, as a thank you for their part in boosting tourism to the country. Easily reached from Bangkok, this heart-warming festival is another reason to start planning that long-delayed trip to the Far East.