2009 WILDEST FESTIVALS CALENDAR
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America
When: February 22-25
Rio de Janeiro is renowned for its wildly decadent carnivals and is regarded as the party capital of the world. Around half a million visitors flock to the city each year for the Rio Carnival, a wild four-day celebration during the peak of Rio's summer.
Considered an act of farewelling the pleasures of the flesh, the carnival ends the day before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Music and dancing, especially the samba, are incorporated into almost every aspect of the celebration.
The Samba Parade at the Sambadrome runs for two days and is considered by many the greatest show on earth.
BURNING MAN FESTIVAL
Black Rock Desert, Nevada, US
When: August 31-September 7
The Burning Man is a week-long festival well-known for its radical self-expression of art, music and nudity. Nearly 50,000 people attended the festival last year at Black Rock City, as the town around Burning Man is known.
The highlight of the event is the observation of the traditional torching of a 12 metre tall signature effigy. The festival began as a bonfire ritual, where a wooden man was burnt as a spontaneous act of self-expression.
BABY JUMPING COLACHO FESTIVAL
Castrillo de Murcia, Spain
One of the most dangerous festivals in the world is the Baby Jumping festival, otherwise known as El Colacho.
Men dressed as devils leap over babies in an attempt to clean them of sin and guard against evil spirits. It has been celebrated in the town of Castrillo de Murcia since 1620, and marks the feast of Corpus Christ.
BALLS OF FIRE
Nejapa, El Salvador
When: August 31, 2009
The people of Nejapa, El Salvador, take the award for celebrating the most dangerous throwing event – the Balls of Fire Festival. Every year on August 31, locals gather to throw fireballs at each other in honor of a huge volcanic eruption that occurred in 1917.
Youths paint their faces, soak balls of cloth in fuel, light them, and fight pitched battles.
RUNNING OF THE BULLS
San Fermin, Pamplona, Spain
When: July 1-14
One of the most popular, dangerous and exhilarating activities you can do is run away from an angry bull. Spain's Running of the Bulls Festival involves fleeing from six or so bulls that charge down some of San Fermin's streets during the nine-day festival.
Injuries are common to participants who may be trampled or gored, and also to the bulls. Nevertheless, the ceremony has a huge following.
WIFE CARRYING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Singleton, NSW, Australia
When: May 2
For Aussies, you don't have to travel to the far corners of the world to find a fun festival. Lift your wife, or a female friend, onto your back and head to the Wife Carrying Championships in Singleton, NSW.
Although preferred, you don't have to be married to participate in the championship. All that's required is for a man to carry a woman over a 250m obstacle corse that includes hurdles, limbo bars, a water course and a sand trap.
Wife-carrying is enjoyed in many countries, and a world championship is held each year in Finland.
BODY ART SHOW
When: February 2-3
Artists and models compete for a variety of titles in Ukraine's promiscuous and beautiful Body Art Show. Coveted titles include most Highly Emotional Subject, Harmonious Composition and Most Original Idea.
A huge following of tourists and locals are drawn to the event, not least due to the array of nude models.
DAY OF THE DEAD
Oaxaca city, Mexico, US
When: November 1-November 2
Mexico's Day of the Dead is a haunting two-day festival dominated by music and creative costumes, where relatives of the deceased hold ceremonies at their graves.
Festivities begin a week beforehand with an elaborate initiation and preparation for the arrival of the dead. Festival traditions include the building of alters, use of sugar skulls and the preparation of the favourite foods and beverages of the departed.
Theatrical performances representing the return of the dead also take place in outlying villages.
WORLD BOG SNORKELLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
When: August 29
Have you ever tried to swim through bog? Well have some sympathy for competitors in the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Britain's smallest town, Llanwrtyd Wells. Decked out in snorkels and flippers, entrants need to complete two lengths of the course, a 60m-long peat bog.
Believe it or not, there is an art to bog snorkelling – entrants need to be able to glide through the thick waters without displaying any recognisable swimming strokes or swallowing any of the bog water.
Munich, Bavaria, Germany
When: September 19-October 4, 2009
The Germans sure know how to party. The annual 16-day Oktoberfest in Munich involves lots of Bavarian beer served in huge tents, plus fun rides in the fairgrounds. It's the world's biggest folk festival with some six million people attending each year.
Proceedings start with a keg of Oktoberfest beer, tapped by the mayor of Munich.
Local breweries serve the beer in a bierzelt, a beer tent that hold thousands of happy drinkers.
Berlin locals pelt each other with eggs, flour, water bombs, fruit and foam-rubber clubs and even dirty nappies in the Wasserschlacht, which has been held every July since 1998.
Two battling districts – Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg – meet on the OberbaumbrÃ¼cke Bridge and thrown objects at each other, trying to intimidate and push their opponents back to their side of the bridge.
The event has been known to get out of hand, with vehicles and buildings set alight.
Men eagerly dress up as Vikings to participate in Spain's Viking festival, which is celebrated annually on the first Sunday of August. The famous festival re-enacts past Viking raids in the area.
Highlights include the disembarkment of Viking-dressed locals from an 11th century Viking ship, and the drenching of the combatants in wine.
CHEESE ROLLING FESTIVAL
When: May 25
One of Britains most bizarre and dangerous sporting challenges involves chasing a giant cheese down a steep slope. Competitors race for 200 metres down the slope, chasing the wheel-shaped Double Gloucester cheese. Many trip and slip their way to the bottom.
First prize in each race is a big circle of cheese. The celebration is believed to have its roots in a heathen festival to celebrate the return of spring.
Cheung Chau, Hong Kong
When: May 2, 2009
Competitors scale 14m towers studded with steamed buns during an event known as "bun-snatching" at the annual Bun festival on Hong Kong's island of Cheung Chau. It is believed that the higher up the mountain that the bun is, the better the fortune.
The annual festival celebrates the islanders' deliverance from famine many centuries ago.
WISCONSIN STATE COW CHIP THROW
When: August 29-30
In 1970, tossing cow chips (dried cow dung) became a sport in the Cimmarron Territory Celebrations in the US city of Oklahoma.
Held every year on August 29 and 30, the sport has grown to become the most anticipated event in town, where everyone loves talking crap.
BATTLE OF ORANGES
When: February 15-17
Everyone knows about La Tomatina, one of the world's biggest food fights, and using tomatoes. However, the Battle of Oranges is a little-known festival that dates back to the Middle Ages when feudal Lords would hand out beans to the poor who would throw them back as a gesture of disrespect.
The tradition evolved when girls started to throw oranges from their balconies during the carnival to attract the attention of boys they were interested in.