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Bizarre events

Abu Simbel festival
Where: Abu Simbel temple, Egypt
When: February 22 and October 22
In a scene right out of Indiana Jones, the inner sanctum of Abu Simbel lights up twice a year on the anniversary of Ramses II’s rise to the throne and on his birthday. To see the event you should crowd in with everyone before sunrise to watch how the light creeps across the stone and statues. You can continue the celebrations outside afterwards at a local fair with food and music.

Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus)
Where: Kanamara Shrine, Kawasaki, Japan
When: March/April (Spring)
This Shinto fertility festival has one central theme – the penis. It is reflected in everything from the illustrations to the candy, carved vegetables, decorations and of course the large phalluses of the mikoshi parade. But despite its seeming bizarreness and the number of camera toting foreigners it attracts, fertility festivals are common in Japan. This one is to pray for sexual safety for local prostitutes but also for the fertility of couples, safe delivery of babies and harmony in marriage.

Bug Bowl
Where: Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, USA
When: Mid April
If you like big insects and the racing of them, come on down to Purdue’s Spring Fest weekend. There are plenty of activities to join in including cricket spitting contests and cockroach racing.

Hadaka Matsuri
Where: Varied locations, Japan
When: Summer or winter
Translated as the “naked festival” this is one in which you can bear all with a crowd of friends, or other men. There are dozens of these naked festivals around Japan and some take place in the throes of winter as well. Participants wear a minimum of clothing, usually just a loincloth, and sometimes purify themselves by plunging into cold water or prostrating before huge blocks of ice. Brrr…

Qoyllurit’I (Festival of the Snows)
Where: Ausangate Peak, Peru
When: First week, May
This three day festival of music and dancing is held on a remote Peruvian glacier on Ausangate Peak, 80km from Cusco. Despite its strange, cold location more than 30,000 pilgrims converge here every year carrying blocks of ice for Qoyllurit’I and stay to celebrate the mountain, stars and Christ. The festival ends with a torch-lit procession over some 5000m passes.

World Mountain-Bike Bog Snorkelling Championships
Where: Waen Rhydd peat bog, near Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
When: Early July
If mountain biking or snorkelling just aren’t extreme enough, throw in some dense peat bog and combine the two and you have a muddy recipe for one of the world’s most bizarre festivals. Competitors wear snorkels and wetsuits and use special bikes to cover the length of a 60-yard bog.

Talkeetna Moose Dropping Festival
Where: Talkeetna, Alaska, USA
When: Mid July
As the name suggests, the handling of animal faeces is required for participants in this annual festival. However it’s all in aid of a good laugh and a few raffles and prizes. One of the premiere events includes The Moose Drop in which you buy a ticket with a number corresponding to a moose pellet. The moose turds are then dropped from a helicopter and prizes are awarded based on how close to the X they fall. There’s also a Moose Poop Toss Game that requires no explanation.

World Toe-Wrestling Championships
Where: Bentley Bridge Inn, Fenny Bentley, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, England
When: Late July
If you want to claim the crown of World Champion Toe Wrestler, wear a bad wrestling outfit and join the other contestants on the “Toedium” a the Bentley Bridge Inn. Since 1976 the most dexterous toes in the world have been fighting it out here on a small wooden frame for international glory.

The Central Maine Egg Festival
Where: Manson Park, Pittsfield, Maine, USA
When: Fourth Saturday of July
This annual event is a celebration of the brown egg industry so you should know what to expect on the menu. There’s an early-bird breakfast (puns implied of course) using the world’s largest frying pan, the “Egglympics”, a chicken BBQ and a cheesecake and quiche contest. There is also non-egg related entertainment such as parades, hot air balloon rides, craft fair and fireworks. The event runs for five days culminating on the Saturday and Sunday.

Great Texas Mosquito Festival
Where: Clute Municipal Park, Clute, Texas, USA
When: Late July
Moist and muggy Clute breeds a good mosquito and in honour of the bugs the locals throw an annual three-day festival. Head on down to win the Mosquito Legs Contest if you’re extra skinny, the Mosquito Calling Contest if you can make a good buzzing imitation or the dodge-ball sting tournament. Willie-Man-Chew presides over the event, the world’s largest mosquito at 25 feet complete with cowboy hat and boots. Some 25,000 people make it here for this event.

Tug Fest
Where: LeClaire, Iowa and Port Byron, Illinois, USA
When: Early August
Only in America would they make a 2,400-foot rope to span the grand stretch of the Mississippi River for the world’s biggest Tug Fest. Every year since 1987 LeClaire has taken on its neighbour across the water, Port Byron, to see who will claim the winner’s statue and victory for another 12 months. Ten 20-member teams pull the 680 pound rope amid the barbaric cheers. There’s also live music, rides and food.

Mobile-Phone Throwing World Championships
Where: Savonlinna, eastern Finland
When: Late August
If you’ve ever thrown your mobile phone in frustration you will be pleased to know it’s now recognized as an international sport! Participants throw their phones and are judged on distance or technique. The winner of course gets a new mobile phone. Event sponsors include mobile phone recycling organizations.

Thimithi Festival
Where: Singapore
When: October/November
This annual fire-walking festival is a Hindu festival that originated in South India. In Singapore it begins with a procession from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Sri Mariamman Temple where the thimithi takes place. It is led by the priest and followed by male devotees.

World Stinging Nettle Competition
Held every year at Marshwood in the UK. Competitors eat the leaves of the nettles and the winner is the most in one hour.
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