Fascinating festivals


Festivals are about the interconnectedness of life. National, regional and local festivals are celebrations of the fact that we share common experiences, motivations, and inspiration. The festivals that follow demonstrate exactly how far our need for connectedness might span.

Kukur Tihar is a Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal and India, honoring the relationship between humans and their canine companions for their loyalty, purity, and guardianship of people’s homes. It is celebrated on the second day of the five-day Diwali festival each year in October/November.

Kukur Tihar

During Kukur Tihar, dogs are adorned with garlands made from flower petals and leaves to honor their close bond with humans. Participants in the festival offer the dogs food such as rice, eggs, and sweets to show respect for them.


India and Nepal

Although there are several different accounts of how the festival came to be, a story of rebellious youth and the alliance of the townspeople is one of the most popular. In 1945, a group of young boys in the Buñol area of Valencia, Spain started throwing vegetables at a group of musicians. One of the enraged musicians fired a tomato back at the young troublemakers, and the rest of the crowd members joined in. 

La Tomatina

These humble beginnings were the foundation of the festival known around the world today as La Tomatina. Trucks full of tomatoes enter the Plaza del Pueblo. For the next hour, the attendees throw the red fruit. As the tomatoes sail through the air, both the food-flinging fighters and the buildings of the plaza become soaked in red juice. The hour concludes around noon, and participants are free to survey the damage. Estimates are that over 150,000 tomatoes are thrown in that single hour.

Annually Last week in August

Buñol, Spain

If most of the world’s other festivals are a little too clean for you , perhaps you will feel at home at the Boryeong Mud Festival. The festival aims to educate consumers about the cosmetic benefits of applying mud to their skin. In the mid-1990s, a Korean beauty company called Boryeong Mud Cosmetics began to study the composition of the mud flats in Boryeong.

Boryeong Mud Festival

 The first Boryeong Mud Festival was held in 1998, and the overwhelmingly positive reception from attendees ensured that the company would continue to hold the event. Today's Mud Festival runs for about two weeks in early July and remains a popular travel destination for Koreans and tourists. Nights of food, music, drinking, and dancing all lead to the grand finale - a huge fireworks display.

July Annually

boryeong, South Korea

One of the world’s strangest annual festivals is El Colacho, also known as the “baby jumping” festival. Men brandishing orange and red jumpsuits make bold leaps over the beds of small infants. As they make their jumps across the sleepy babies, it is said the souls of the babies are blessed and removed from sin. Visitors from all over the world arrive to participate in the events.  Once the children have all been blessed and the jumping processions end, the babes are consecrated with flower petals and returned to their parents.

El Colacho | The Baby Jumping Festival

A parade through the streets of Castrillo follows and concludes at a beautiful hilltop church where a grand party is thrown. Wine flows endlessly as meals are offered to hungry festivalgoers during the final day of celebration. Church officials from several countries have denied the benefits El Colacho claims to offer and caution against possible harm to the children.

June 19th - 23d Annually

Castrillo de Murcia, Spain

El salto del colacho en Castrillo de Murcia Credit: Wikimedia user Celestebombin

Busójárás is a traditional Carnival celebration held in the Hungarian city of Mohács and other towns across the country. During this time, masked men known as “busós” march through the streets with torches and drums while making loud noises to ward off evil spirits. According to this story, local villagers dressed up as “busós” to scare away the Ottoman invaders in 1687. and protect their town from destruction. Over time, this practice evolved into an annual festival that has become one of Hungary’s most beloved traditions. Today, Busójárás is celebrated with great enthusiasm and excitement by locals and visitors alike. On the day of the festival, busós can be seen walking around in their traditional costumes


of wood or leather, sheepskin coats, and tall boots — accompanied by musicians playing traditional folk music on flutes or drums. As they march through town, they set off fireworks to further scare away evil spirits and celebrate their victory over hated enemies long ago.

Week before Lent

Mohács and other towns across Hungary

At the height of every summer, the city of Portschach, Austria, is overtaken by a wild visceral experience of color and sound known as the World Bodypainting Festival. Men and women transformed by colorful body paint and fantastical prosthetics parade through the streets, draw crowds to nightclubs and strut down runways. Transformational events are held near the calm blue waters of Lake Wörthersee, where visitors stay in accommodations that range from luxury hotels to primitive campgrounds for this aberrant jamboree.

World Bodypainting Festival

Artists participate in intense elimination challenges to compete for the world title. Participating artists must be skilled and able to work quickly. They must also remember that their masterpiece is temporary, something to snap a photo of because it will be washed off in a few hours. In addition to the cosmetic attractions, the festival also features over thirty musical acts, and the lineup continues to expand yearly.

Late June/Early July

Portschach, Austria

The Up Helly Aa Viking festival celebrates the Norse heritage of the Shetlands. Several generations of Norse descendants take to the cobblestone streets to honor their ancestors and enjoy a night of ancient songs, traditional feasts, and plenty of drinking. It marks the end of the two-month yule season, a midwinter time of religious and cultural festivities. Nearly one thousand men clad in Viking armor march through the streets of Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Islands.  As the early morning fog lifts over the rooftops of Lerwick’s stone buildings, men young and old don Viking costumes and begin their march through the town. At nightfall, the city turns off its lamps and is instead illuminated by the fire

Up Helly Aa

of over nine hundred ceremonial torches carried by the participants. A massive Viking longship adorned with the head of a dragon is made especially for this event. At the end of the parade route, the men form a circle around the ship and raise their deep voices to the Shetland skies singing a traditional Up Helly Aa song. As the chorus culminates, they hurl their torches into the galley and set it ablaze.

Last Tuesday in January

Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland

The Monkey Buffet Festival is an annual event held near the Wat Pha Sorn Kaew temple in Lopburi, Thailand. It is a unique celebration that sees thousands of macaque monkeys treated to a lavish buffet. The locals believe that treating the primates with respect will bring luck, so each year, they prepare hundreds of dishes for their guests: fruits, vegetables, noodles, and other treats. It is said that this unique festival began almost 30 years ago when a monk noticed how some wild monkeys were always trying to steal food from pilgrims

Monkey Buffet Festival

visiting his temple and decided to do something about it. Visitors flock to Wat Pha Sorn Kaew temple to watch as thousands of monkeys feast upon dishes prepared by local vendors. Today this gesture has become an annual tradition. Apart from feeding their monkey friends food items like fruits & vegetables, locals also bless these animals during festivities by pouring water over them as part blessing ritual that symbolizes fertility & good health.

Last Sunday in November

Lopburi, Thailand

Burning the Clocks is a holiday of fire and creativity that transforms the city of Brighton into a trippy wonderland to mark the beginning of the Winter Solstice. The fair’s roots date back to 1994 when a community arts charity called Same Sky created an event to celebrate winter without any affiliation to a specific religion. While this trait is still embodied in the festival’s history, the event exists today as an insurgency against the modern-day commercialism of Christmas and other seasonal holidays. Festival participants gather together to burn handmade lanterns in a giant bonfire which is said to fuel the hopes and dreams of attendees long after the event’s conclusion.

Burning the Clocks

Leading up to the evening festivities, participants are encouraged to design their own lanterns, typically made from bamboo or willow cane. Lantern designs are tailored around whatever theme is chosen for the year. Once the night has fallen, the last groups make their way to the shores of a nearby beach, and the beating of drums initiates the approaching fire show. One after another, participants toss their handmade lanterns into the bonfire setting their hours of hard work and creativity aflame.

December 21st

Brighton, England