Planet Earth is a strange place, but not quite as puzzling as the humans who live on it. People will find just about any excuse to throw a party, even to celebrate the most bizarre of traditions. If you can think of it, there's probably a celebration for it — and for pure entertainment, we've dug out the oddest bunch of them all for readers to have a giggle at.
Without further ado, here are some of the world's weirdest festivals and events that will leave you scratching your head.
11 Kanamara Matsuri, Kawasaki, Japan
To end a hard time of year that goes on for far too long, this festival of phalli in Japan takes place in spring to celebrate fertility, successful marriage, and business prosperity. This rather NSFW religious celebration showcases a parade of enormous anatomy floats, whilst a wealth and girth of phallus-themed activities and goodies entertain the crowds. From uniquely shaped lollipops, novelty gifts, and souvenirs, to giant anatomically accurate statues and unusual vegetable carving workshops, it is to be said very carefully that there's something for all the family...
10 Heavy Metal Knitting World Championships, Joensuu, Finland
Yes, you read that correctly. There are more than 50 heavy metal bands per 100,000 Finnish people, alongside hundreds of thousands of knitting fanatics. So what did Finland do? They combined the two to create one of the world's strangest competitions. The contest is open to the public, and anyone who enjoys knitting and heavy metal is invited. Competitors wear loud costumes whilst knitting various creations and rocking out to heavy metal. It really doesn't get any stranger (or cooler!) than this.
9 Wife Carrying World Championships, Sonkajärvi, Finland
The wife-carrying contest began in 1992 and has since spread around the world with the likes of Hong Kong, India, and the U.S hosting their own. Men are put to test by carrying their wives through a 253.5-meter obstacle course, being timed as they go. They're permitted to carry their wives in various ways, such as the fireman's carry, piggyback, or Estonian-style in which the poor woman hangs upside-down with her legs around his shoulders. Awards are given to couples with the best costumes, as well as to those who are the strongest, fastest, and overall most entertaining racers. The grand prize? It's the wife's weight in beer!
8 The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll, Gloucestershire, England
In May, the village of Brockworth is home to a dangerous festival involving a giant cheese. An official tosses a nine-pound roll of Double Gloucester semi-hard cheese down a steep hill whilst a crowd of grown adults hurl themselves after it. Flying, and flailing down the almost sheer drop, a local rugby team waits at the bottom to halt the uncontrollable wave of rolling cheese-chasers. One lucky competitor is crowned the winner after successfully managing to catch the cheese and raise it above their head to signal their victory to the other participants. The giant round of cheese is their prize.
7 La Tomatina, Buñol, Valencia, Spain
The annual Spanish Tomato Festival is a week-long celebration held in August. It first began in 1945 when a lively crowd started a food fight in the streets. To commemorate this moment in history and to continue the childish spirit, the main festivity of this hilariously fun festival is the hour-long tomato fight — which is estimated to use up around 145,000 kg of tomatoes. When the full hour of tomato hurling and splatting ends, the tomatoe-y red streets are sprayed by trucks, and many tomato-doused festival-goers head for a dip in the pool of "Los Peñones." The town's surfaces always end up sparkling clean thanks to the citric acid contained in the tomatoes.
6 The Baby Jumping Festival, Castrillo de Murcia, Spain
Every year on the Catholic feast day of Corpus Christi, this 400-year-old ceremony sees men dressed as devils jumping over infants placed on mattresses throughout the town. The purpose is to cleanse them of sin and ward off sickness and evil spirits in some kind of bizarre baptism. The Catholic Church has been said to be unamused by the practice, as babies are supposed to be baptized in church with water and not by costumed men leaping over them.
5 Songkran Festival, Thailand
The wettest festival in the world — Songkran — is Thailand's nationwide celebration to mark the beginning of the Buddhist New Year in April. It's a sacred time in which the Thai people enjoy prayer, Buddha images are bathed, and the youth show respect to their elders and monks. All across Thailand, there are parties, parades, prayers, and dancing, however, Songkran's global fame comes from the fact that it's all about getting wild and wet. Locals and tourists don colorful Hawaiin shirts and participate in the greatest world's water fight. Super-soakers galore, this important holiday sees everyone let their hair down and enjoy water gun fights, pool parties, and watery pranks for the sole purpose of getting drenched, cooling off, and having the time of their lives.
4 Boryeong Mud Festival, Daecheon Beach, South Korea
Mud is said to be very good for the skin, and those that get down and dirty at Daecheon Beach's annual mud festival can probably vouch for its rejuvenating properties. The mineral-rich mud here attracts huge crowds of festival-goers for a truckload of filthy fun — from mud massages and wrestling, mud photography, and games. The mucky event takes place right by the sea, so visitors can easily wash away the dirt before heading home.
3 Air Guitar World Championship, Oulu, Finland
One of the world's happiest countries brings yet another weird and incredibly fun competition of heavy metal and guitars. As part of the Oulu Music Video Festival, the annual Air Guitar World Championship in Finland began in 1996 as a joke and has now turned into one of the event's top attractions. As the name suggests, competitors play air guitar on stage in a series of rounds whilst the crowd rock out and judges give scores. The event celebrates the wholesome ideology behind the air guitar —" all wars would end and all the bad things would disappear if all the people in the world played the air guitar."
2 Blackawton International Festival of Worm Charming, Devon, England
In this May-time competition, each team is given a square meter of land in the middle of a field with the goal of charming as many worms as possible to come to the surface in just 15 minutes. From beating the ground, playing tunes on a lute, wooing worms with songs, or manipulating them with nature by adding water to simulate rain, there is no lack of strange strategies used by competitors to charm these underground creatures. And if that wasn't weird enough, anyone caught cheating gets put in the stocks and publicly humiliated.
1 Rayne Frog Festival, Louisiana, U.S.A
From frog jumping and frog races to the Frog Derby Queen and frogs’ legs feasts, the self-confessed Frog Capital of the World is home to a funky and fantastic festival featuring all things frogs. At this mid-November event, frog fanatics of all ages can enjoy local and national music, as well as a huge range of froggy affairs and festivities for a fun-filled family event.