Festivals are like dream worlds within this real one where participants can get lost in a trance of awe, magic, and adrenaline as they experience vividly colorful sights and sounds, the smell and taste of foreign cuisine, and a unique culture. If you have a spirit for adventure, this visual guide will make you want to jump on a plane right now to check out some of the world’s craziest festivals.
1) Festival de San Fermín (Running of the Bulls)
Pamplona, Spain — July 6th–July 14th, 2015
The annual Running of the Bulls, also known as la Festival de San Fermín, is a gnarly, non-stop party where you can eat, drink, dance, listen to music and party all night and wake up to an adrenaline-packed, half-mile run with six furious bulls and six steers chasing you into an ancient Spanish arena where you get to feel like Russell Crowe for about an hour as you dodge a different oncoming bull every 10 minutes or so.
If you’re a hardcore adrenaline-junkie willing to experience one of Spain’s most famous festivals running the risk that you can get gored by a bull… you need to attend the next one between July 6th and 14th.
When I ran this two years ago, my friends and I didn’t have a room reservation so we left our backpacks in a luggage storage by a bus station and decided to stay up all night off of Red Bulls (which I’ll never drink again), jam out to the live concerts in the town, and do the run in the morning. One cool perk is that Pamplona had free wifi during the event and I made sure to Skype call my mom that I was running with bulls in two hours.
I can attest that the run was easily one of top five craziest experiences of my life. A few tips I have for first-time runners are:
– you’re safer by the side of the street
– cut the corner on the steep right turn (you’ll know what I’m talking about)
– when you run into the arena, clear out to a side
– wear festive colors (white shirt and pants with a red scarf and bandana)
2) La Tomatina
Buñol, Spain — August 26th, 2015
The pictures above may look like a blood bath, and La Tomatina is… but with tomato juice and held annually in Spain on the last Wednesday of every August. An average of 40,000 people show up in a small town to enjoy an hour of the world’s largest food fight, then they party out the rest of the day.
I rolled up here spontaneously in 2012 and it was a crazy, tomato-packed hour of pegging and being pegged by tons of tomatoes. The mass of participants was turned into a human margherita pizza thanks to the blistering sun, and I watched my shoes dissolve in the pools of tomato juice. I left the event thinking I wouldn’t eat tomatoes for another year, shoeless and shirtless, spending the last bit of my pocket change on a tomato and ham sandwich while intoxicated from buckets of sangria my fellow festival friends and I enjoyed.
If you want to experience the world’s largest food fight, love tomatoes, are vegetarian, or want to party with a bunch of loco people… this is a must-attend for you.
New Deli, India — March 6th, 2015
If the idea of a massive food fight at La Tomatina sounded awesome too you, you’re going to love Holi. Also known as the festival of love, Holi represents the triumph of good over evil. Here, festival-goers engage in a celebration of color by dousing each other in a variety of colored powders. There’s an ancient Hindu back story behind the purpose of Holi that you can check out in preparation for the next one on March 6th, 2015!
4) Up Helly AA
Lerwick, Shetland — January 27th, 2015
Like Game of Thrones or Lord of The Rings? Here’s your chance to live like you’re in that time era. I have yet to attend Up Helly AA and only recently discovered how awesome it looks, however you can find more info here.
Munich, Germany — September 19th–October 4th, 2015
Dirndels and lederhosens, beautiful women and drunk men combine at this crazy festival packed with some of the world’s finest beer as everybody celebrates the harvest season. The history of Oktoberfest goes back to 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Sax-Hildburghausen and citizens of Munich were invited to attend festivities in the field in front of the city gates. Over 200 years later, we still celebrate!
Enjoy one-liter steins of your favorite German beers, eat delicious Bavarian food, do the chicken dance, and enjoy the festival rides… just don’t puke.
I went with a group of German friends and it was described to me as “Narnia for men.” (I would say the same title still holds true.) Pro-tip: get to the tents as early as possible to guarantee seating.
6) Burning Man
Black Rock City, Nevada — August 31st – September 7th, 2015
For one week, Black Rock City becomes the third largest populated city in Nevada… before it’s all taken down with no trace of existence. I have yet to go to this festival, and plan to next year. From what I’ve heard, it is so epically bizarre I don’t even think a description will help explain what Burning Man is all about. There are live DJs, a naked sushi camp, TED talks, amazing art and people, and more… all living in a gifting society that they have created.
If you’ve read up to this point, my guess is you want to experience the world’s craziest videos .Assuming that, check out this video of a virgin “burner’s” experience at Burning Man and come join me at the Playa next year!
7) The World Cup
various locations — 2018 to be held in Russia
The World Cup is quite possibly the most epic of world festivals I’ve been to. With a TV viewership of over a billion people, 16 national teams play against each other head to head to win the glorious title of World Cup champions. The first one took place in Uruguay back in 1930 and tradition has kept them continuing once every 4 years, from June to July for a month of amazing performances of football (soccer), supported from the sidelines by crazy fans and lots of celebration.
It brings people together from different nations, parts of the world, and cultures; a wonderful time for celebration and unity. If you want to experience the diversity of the world’s nations come together for outstanding sports performances, you need to come to Russia in 2018 for the next World Cup.
Featured photo credit: Daniel Malikyar via danielmalikyar.squarespace.com