Skip To Content

    17 Festivals From Around The World That Are So Unique, They Sound Made Up

    Don't forget to add these to your travel bucket list.

    1. The Boryeong Mud Festival, that is celebrated annually in Seoul, South Korea.

    Women smiling and taking a selfie while celebrating The Mud Festival of South Korea
    Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

    Yes, it definitely sounds like one big party with all things mud!

    Celebrated every year over a period of two weeks, the Mud Festival attracts millions of travellers and involves fun activities like mud slides, mud pools, parades, and mud skiing competitions. I really don't mind the mess if it packs so much fun.

    2. The traditional Cheung Chau Bun Festival, that is celebrated in Hong Kong.

    Young men holding sacks and climbing up bun towers for a celebration of the traditional Cheung Chau Bun Festival of Hong Kong
    MN Chan / Getty Images

    This Chinese festival is celebrated annually on the island of Cheung Chau, and is thronged by a plethora of locals and tourists.

    The festivities involve competitors racing to climb MASSIVE, 60-feet-high bamboo mountains that are covered with handmade buns. As per tradition, the higher the buns that are snatched by a holder, the greater the fortune that falls on their family.

    3. Hungary's biggest carnival, Busójárás.

    Carnival participants from Hungary dressed up in costumes of devils, known as Busós, to celebrate The Buso Festival
    ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP / Getty Images

    Also known as The Busó Festival, this annual, week-long, UNESCO-recognised carnival is celebrated in Hungary, in the town of Mohács. The festival features people, especially men, dressed as horned devils, or “Busós”, running to chase away the winters. There's also alcohol, music, and lots of dancing.

    4. The Lopburi Monkey Buffet Festival, that is celebrated annually in Thailand.

    Monkeys climbing up a tower full of fruits and flowers in Thailand, in celebration of the Lopburi Monkey Banquet Festival

    Yes, you've got the name right — it is a banquet for monkeys!

    Celebrated in the provincial capital of Lopburi in Thailand, this festival holds special significance in Thai culture, where monkeys are considered sacred. The celebration is therefore exclusively held to witness thousands of monkeys feasting on mountains of fruits, vegetables, desserts, and more.

    5. The Carnival Of Ivrea, that is celebrated in Italy.

    Stefano Guidi / Getty Images

    This carnival is essentially a delightful battle of oranges! What is supposed to be the largest food fight in Italy, the Carnival Of Ivrea is celebrated to memorialise Ivrea's freedom from tyranny and oppression. Locals and tourists hurl oranges at each other for three entire days, and it is indeed a sight to see.

    Does this remind you of a certain "La Tomatina"?

    6. The World Toe Wrestling Championships, celebrated in England.

    A close up image of two people's feet, as they battle each other with their interlocked toes for the World Toe Wrestling Championship
    Simon Cooper / EMPICS / Contributor / Getty Images

    Yep! Toe wrestling is very much a thing. Initiated in 1976 by a group of mates at a pub in Wetton, Staffordshire, the Toe Wrestling Championships continue to be one of the most interesting events in the UK. As you might've guessed already, participants are supposed to battle each other with their interlocked toes.

    I wonder if they're awarded a winning "toephy" for this. Sorry!

    7. The Gilroy Garlic Festival, celebrated annually in California.

    People gathered outside a garlic ice cream stall at the Gilroy Garlic Food Festival
    Mardis Coers / Contributor / Getty Images

    The Gilroy Garlic Food Festival is a three-day annual event held in Gilroy, California, and is not only one of the best-known food festivals of the state, but also Gilroy's biggest fundraiser. Thousands of visitors gather here each year to enjoy all sorts of garlicky food, live music, crafts, and more. Oh and they also serve garlic ice cream!

    I'd like to add that horrible events such as that of a mass shooting in 2019 and the pandemic in 2020 absolutely couldn't dampen the spirits of this amazing festival as it made a fantastic comeback in July of 2021.

    8. La Noche de Rábanos festival, Mexico.

    Carved radishes at the Noche de Rabanos Festival in Mexico

    "The Night of the Radishes" is celebrated annually, every winter, and attracts hundreds of contestants and a lot more visitors to the city of Oaxaca. The competing participants gather to carve large radishes into even larger sculptures. The resulting creations are truly marvellous.

    9. The spectacular Lantern Floating Festival, celebrated in Hawaii.

    Lanterns floating in a lake, at sunset, for the Lantern Floating Festival in Hawaii
    Education Images / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

    This special ceremony marks the occasion of Memorial Day in Hawaii. Thousands of visitors from across the country assemble to extend their prayer messages and float them in these beautiful golden lanterns. This astounding sight of floating lanterns in the Pacific is a wonderful symbol of peace and harmony. 

    10. The World Bodypainting Festival, celebrated in Austria.

    A woman gets her face painted at the World Bodypainting Festival in Austria
    Mathias Kniepeiss / Getty Images

    This cultural festival was first created in 1998 and is now celebrated annually in Austria. It goes way beyond the usual face and body paintings one gets done at birthday parties.

    The celebration is attended by artists from over 50 nations, who gather to display their art, using the human body as their canvas. The creations are absolutely jaw-dropping.

    11. South Korea's Water Gun Festival.

    People smile and splash water at each other using water guns at the water gun festival
    Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

    This lively celebration has rightfully been voted Seoul's most iconic event for four consecutive years. The opening ceremony of The Water Gun Festival is celebrated with a water concert, umbrella performances, AND a water gun wedding. Every year, the streets of the city are closed for the festival as people enjoy thematic water gun battles. Doesn't that sound fun?

    12. The Cheese Rolling Festival, celebrated in England.

    A group of participants racing down a grassy hill, chasing a rolled block of cheese in celebration of the country's Cheese Rolling Festival
    Barry Batchelor / PA Images / Getty Images

    Hosted every spring in Coopers Hill in Gloucester, England, the Cheese Rolling Festival is a one of a kind sport. Participating contestants literally race down 200 yards in pursuit of a nine-pound round of Double Gloucester cheese. However, considering past instances of injuries, a foam replica has now replaced the rolling cheese.

    13. The Florida Keys Underwater Music Festival.

    People play musical instruments underwater
    BILL KEOUGH / AFP / Getty Images

    A fiesta that has been around for the past 36 years, the Florida Keys Underwater Music Festival combines music with the conservation of coral reefs. Every year, music enthusiasts get together, 20 feet below the surface of the water, to play to the melodies of various water-themed songs with guitars, drums, and horns.

    14. The Carnival of Basel, Switzerland.

    A parade of people masked as creatures, with drums in their hands, celebrating the Carnival of Basel
    Frank Bienewald / LightRocket / Getty Images

    "Dame Fasnacht" or the Carnival of Basel is Switzerland's largest procession that takes place in the month of March. It is the only protestant carnival in the world and lures almost 2,00,000 visitors every year. The three-day-long carnival involves parades, exhibitions, and countless performances. Sounds to me like three days of pure thrill!

    15. Scotland's Golden Retriever Festival.

    A woman plays with her golden retriever
    Getty Images

    This special festival is celebrated every year to commemorate the establishment of The Golden Retriever Club Of Scotland. Hundreds of goldens assemble from around the world for this most incredible meet and greet. The celebrations also include a dog show and some activities for the dog parents.

    Well, don't we all have all sorts of paw-sitive feelings for this festival?

    16. Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival.

    People admire snow sculptures of mammoths at the Sapporo Snow Festival
    STR / AFP / Getty Images

    This festival began as a one day event in 1950 and is now celebrated annually in Japan for seven days, every February, where talented artists carve hundreds of snow and ice sculptures at the Odori Park in Sapporo, Hokkaido. These sculptures often depict a famous building, person or event and continue to enthral millions of visitors from around the globe.

    17. And finally, Thailand's Songkran Water Festival.

    People splashing water at each other during the Songkran festival in Thailand

    Songkran essentially marks the beginning of the Thai New Year. Devotees visit temples wherein they bathe images of Lord Buddha while also sprinkling water over the heads of monks and their elders. The festival becomes a lot more special with events such as parades, dancing, tons of entertainment, and, of course, water splashing!