Curious celebrations and fun festivals
Wherever you go, you're bound to find a festival or local gathering that celebrates something peculiarly specific or fetes a singularly strange subject.
India's dye-throwing festival of Holi, England's annual cheese-rolling event and Spain's La Tomatina are just a few of the festivals that may seem a little on the odd side.
When it comes to some of the world’s other, more bizarre, festivals, be warned that they can get strange. Really strange! But participants and tourists alike love the energy on display as well as the ability to revel in the idiosyncrasies and the tradition that most of these events have.
If you're on the lookout for a fest with a difference, the Flexicover team has come up with a selection of options to choose from, which are definitely a far cry from Glastonbury!
Wife-Carrying World Championship; Finland
Wife-carrying isn't just for thresholds - it's become a competitive sport across the world, with its pinnacle event held annually in the Finnish town of Sonkajärvi. Couples don't have to be actually wedded, so dozens of mixed duos take on the 253.5m course, across two stretches of dry ground and through one stretch of waist-high water. The lady - usually carried on the man's back - aims to stay as strategically balanced as possible, while their partner concentrates on running the obstacles. The twosome that cross the finish line first are crowned winners but prizes are awarded to the most entertaining couple, the best dressed and the strongest carrier too.
This Thai festival, held in April, began innocently enough with their New Year's tradition of visiting the local temple and pouring water on a statue of the Buddha to represent the washing away of sins. It then progressed to young people pouring water in the hands of elders in respect. Now, it's turned into a country-wide, three-day water fight, with accompanying pageants, where large water pistols, buckets and even elephant-power are all fair game! If you're heading over for the fun, remember that it's impossible to be an observer - you'll be just as much of a target as locals, if not more so, and you're expected to give as good as you get.
Father Ted Festival; Ireland
Father Ted may have last aired in 1998 but its spirit lives on at Inis Mor, one of the islands that lay claim to inspiring the programme's location of Craggy Island. The last weekend of February each year sees the island's population double with Father Ted fanatics arriving from all over the globe, dressed up as priests, milkmen, nuns and housekeepers, ready to enjoy Tedfest. Organisers lay on quirky activities like Clerics Come Dancing, and Ted's Got Talent, in honour of events that happened on screen. The festival is always a sell-out and local accommodation is limited, so it's one to book in advance. Ah, go on...
El Colacho; Spain
Every Sunday after Corpus Christi in the Spanish town of Castrillo de Murcia, new parents are invited to hand over the most important thing in their lives, lay them on ground and then let grown men jump over them. The men, dressed in vibrant red and yellow outfits representing the devil, are aiming to protect the babies from harm and cleanse bad influences. We suspect that surviving the 'baby jumping festival' - an interesting cultural intersection of Catholicism and Spanish folklore - is proof enough of its success and it's been held annually since 1620. One for taking photos at and not to re-enact, we’d suggest!
Fistiki Fest; Greece
Food festivals are no unusual thing - many major cities show off their gourmet offerings each year. Traditional commemorations for one particular ingredient, though, are not as frequent (despite the wishes of many produce marketing boards). But every year, 20,000 people congregate in Aegina, one of the islands in the Saronic Gulf, for the Fistiki Festival in honour of the pistachio. Revellers taste the pistachio-based recipes from top chefs, browse artisan stalls of nut-based products - both edible and non-edible - and partake of much music and art. The end result is a lively, less-than-usual, weekend packed with nutty goodness!
So if you fancy heading off to enjoy any of these weird and wonderful festivals, it's good to know that being covered by a Flexicover travel insurance policy will ensure peace of mind as we are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.