The day of rest is often the day of unusual festivals around the world. This is our pick of the 5 worth visiting.
There are lots of amazing street parties and events around the world, but what of the more traditional and unusual festivals?
For centuries, Sundays, in Christian countries, have been seen traditionally as a sober day for rest, reflection and church attendance. Whilst this tradition is still ingrained in Western society, how strictly Sunday closing is observed nowadays varies quite significantly across European countries. However, there are some places around the world that have maintained some of their traditions, some of them a bit unusual.
Some cities celebrate the sober day quite differently, and they are rather worth the travel if you want to experience something extraordinary. Here are our top five unusual Sunday festivals around the world – add these to your bucket list!
1. Lopburi Monkey Banquet of Lopburi, Thailand
Home to some spectacular ruins from historical temples like the Phra Prang Sam Yod (Monkey Temple), Lopburi is one the oldest cities in Thailand. Yet, this city is often forgotten by tourists, perhaps as it isn’t on the main banana pancake trail – although its only 155kms from Bangkok.
However, each year the city holds one of the most spectacular festivals in the world: the Monkey Banquet Festival, which attracts 10,000 visitors. Every last Sunday of November,
Lopburi communities organise a giant buffet of fruits and food for the extensive population of monkeys that live in Lopburi. In fact, according to a legend, the city belonged to the Monkey King ‘Hanuman’, which explains the importance and symbolism of monkeys for Lopburi.
The monkeys rule the area, and this gives a quite spectacular setting for the festival. The whole city is redecorated specially for almost 3,000 monkeys who come and enjoy the banquet. This is guaranteed to be a memorable day. National Geographic has recently covered a video of the festival, have a quick peek here.
2. Kanamara Matsuri Festival, Japan.
Every first Sunday of April, thousands of Japanese people descend to Kawasaki, south of Tokyo to celebrate fertility and sexual health.
For centuries, the city has been regarded by couples as a place to pray for marital harmony and fertility. Each year, they celebrate these by gathering in the streets, singing, shouting and laughing in honour of the penis. Three giant disembodied phalluses “Mikoshi” are carried during the day by locals down the streets of Kawasaki in a parade.
When this festival might not be taken seriously by visitors and rather as a funny event, it is rather both a politically and religiously engaged event.
3. El Colacho Baby Jumping Festival in Castrillo de Murcia, Spain
Sunday 3rd of June 2018 will be a special day for some babies born in the year of 2017. Laid on mattresses in the street of Castrillo de Murcia in Spain, these are leaped over by red and yellow-masked ‘devils’ who are running through the streets. Yes, you read right, they are leaped over! The babies are then sprinkled with rose petals before being handed over to their parents.
This event is meant to protect the babies from disease and misfortune and represent the triumph of good over evil. Quite an unusual way to celebrate good fortune, isn’t it?
The festival takes place every June and although originally only locally born babies were included, recent years have seen visitors from around the world bringing their newborns to be ‘blessed’.
4. Sunakake Matsuri Festival at the Hirose Shrine in Yamato, Japan
This is perhaps the oldest festival of our list. It dates back to the reign of Emperor Temmu, around 1,300 years ago. The Sunakake Matsuri Festival is a type of Onda Matsuri festival, which is held all over Japan to pray for good harvest. What is specific to this one, however, is that instead of water, sand is thrown and scattered in mimicking the process of farming.
This unusual way of celebrating land fertility is meant to keep all evil spirits out and bring good luck to whoever is to participate to the festival. As a bonus bonus, the Hirose Shrine is just a few kilometres from Osaka, one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in Japan. This festival will take place on Sunday, 11th of February 2018.
5. The Boryeong Mud Festival in Boryeong, South Korea
Although this last festival lasts for a little over than a week in July, the last Sunday is known to be the most best moment of the festival for its closing large firework display. Inaugurated in 1998, it was originally conceived to promote the cosmetics made from the city’s famous mud. Well, this worked! 2.2 million visitors come each year to play in the mud pools and slides, enjoy the music, massages and various other activities. The exact date for 2018 have not yet been announced but stay tuned on this page to know when it will next be held.
There are many amazing and unusual festivals around the world, if you’ve been to any particularly interesting ones we’d love to hear via the comments below.
We hope you’ve added a few of these to your bucket list. If you’re ready to head to one of these unusual festivals, check flights on our handy widget below.