Five fun festivals for your bucket list
There are a few big festivals that appear on the bucket lists of many travellers. Carnivale in Rio, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Oktoberfest in Munich or San Fermin (The Running of the Bulls) in Pamplona, Spain usually top the lists.
But there is a lot of fun to be had a little further off the beaten track. As I’ve said before, the world is a weird and wonderful place, and the things we humans do to entertain ourselves are equally wild and wacky.
Perhaps you could add a couple of these colourful festivals to your travel bucket list:
1) La Tomatina
Let me warn you about something. Tomato juice in the eyes stings – a lot!
And if you head to the Spanish town of Bunol, near Valencia, in August, you are quite likely to get a significant amount of tomato juice in the eyes.
For this reason many people wear swimming goggles to the amazing Tomatina celebration at the end of the tomato growing season. Tons of over-ripe tomatoes arrive by the lorry-load in the town centre, which is packed with revellers from all over the world.
Once the lorries dump their soggy red cargo the town square very quickly begins to resemble something like a vision from Dante’s Inferno, or a badly made blood-and-guts splatter movie.
The atmosphere is fun and friendly, and by the end of the afternoon your face will ache from laughing. Guaranteed!
See my “100goals” blogs from 2008, when I attended this food-flinging frenzy:
2) Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling
Brilliant British eccentricity. Find the steepest hill you can, line up hundreds of people at the top, roll a cheese down the hill, and race after it! Consider yourself a winner if you don’t end up in the casualty ward!
I’m not sure about the current status of this wonderful bit of May madness. I keep reading reports that the nanny state is going to step in and ban the event, citing it as “too dangerous”!!
What nonsense! In 2009, when my brother and I both competed by running down the hill chasing a wildly bouncing wheel of cheese, the event only had to be paused three time while people were carted off to hospital.
It’s all part of the fun on a sunny afternoon in England. Needless to say, the event culminates in a headlong dash to the pub afterwards for most participants and spectators alike.
You can find Cooper’s Hill just outside the town of Brockworth in Gloucestershire, and the event happens towards the end of May. Check to see the authorities haven’t stamped it out before setting off for some fun.
So what’s it all about? I think this video should explain everything:
Here are a few resources to help you plan your visit. It’s worth going, even if you only plan to watch:
Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling (Wikipedia)
Here are my blogs about this day of merry madness:
3) Worthing Birdman
More English eccentricity. Dress in an elaborate costume, jump off a ridiculously tall platform into the sea. Beer and congratulations for those not in hospital when the weekend finishes. Why? Erm, well, why not?
You should go and watch this, even if you have no desire to dress up like an idiot and throw yourself into the sea. It’s a great weekend away. Here are some useful resources:
Worthing Birdman (Wikipedia)
And here are my reports from the wacky weekend in Worthing in 2009:
4) The Elephant Round-up
I think this was another goal inspired by a documentary. Who wouldn’t want to see the world’s largest gathering of elephants?
This festival takes place in Surin in Thailand, and is relatively easy to get to on an overnight train from Bangkok.
Seeing around 500 elephants running on to a football field from all four corners certainly justifies the use of the term “awe-inspiring”.
Here are a few useful links if you would like to attend the festival, which takes place in November each year:
Elephant Roundup (Wikipedia)
Here are a couple of elephant-excitement blog posts:
5) Sedgefield Ball Game
I grew up in the north of England, and just ten miles from where I lived is the town of Sedgefield.Every year on Shrove Tuesday the Sedgefield Ball Game takes over the town.
I initially had this event on my list of 100 goals, but conflicting events forced me to make some changes, and to date I still haven’t attended this wild occasion.
In 2016 the scheduled date is Tuesday 9th Feb – I’m very unlikely to make it then either – it’s very cold in the north of England in February. Perhaps you will be going?
This is my blog about my decision to drop this goal from my list. One day, maybe:
Moving the goalposts
More “fantastic fives”:
There are so many great experiences to enjoy in life.
In celebration of the five-year anniversary of the completion of my “100 goals in 100 weeks” challenge, I have written five blog posts, each containing five ideas for fun-filled adventures or experiences you could add to your own personal bucket list.
Feel free to add your own bucket list suggestions in the comments section below.
Here are the other “fives” posts…
Five fantastic adventures to add to your bucket list
Five airborne adventures
Five Wonders of the World
Five underwater adventures