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The 5 Weirdest Festivals in Europe

Europe is a great place to party—this is a known fact. And it’s true whether your preferred scene is in Ibiza, or you’re one of the growing crowd that things Croatia is where it’s at, or just know that Europe throws the best new years’ eve gigs in the world.

But sometimes you’re looking for something a bit… stranger.

Festival de l’insolite

The festival of the unusual is one that lives up to its name. Based in the town of Mahalon, while the rest of France is busy celebrating Bastille Day, the citizens of this town are racing… hospital beds? Over the years the festival has been honed to a razor sharp point of weird, with everything boring being carved away, while any bizarre whim that popped into anyone’s head was tacked on.

The end result is a race track marked out with hay bales around the town’s church, around which teams of three (two “pushers” and one “driver” will speed along clinging to a hospital bed for dear life. And because this isn’t called the “festival of quite ordinary really”, they’ll be doing it in fancy dress.

Come along and watch while you eat a crepe, and know that if anything goes wrong, well… at least the contestants are already in hospital beds.

The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival

In Ludwigsburg they like pumpkins. They really like pumpkins. They might like pumpkins a bit too much. That’s why the city will buy itself 150 tons of 500 different species of pumpkin. Now if any other city was buying this many pumpkins, one might think they were just way too into Halloween. But these pumpkins aren’t being turned into jack-o-lanterns. They’re being turned into boxing rings, and giant, weird sculptures, and boats. Yes, they have an actual regatta where people race down a river riding in a hollowed out pumpkin. That’s a real thing that happens and not a rejected idea from a Roald Dahl book.

The Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships

We’ve all had one of those days. You have a day off, but before you’re even out of bed your phone’s received six emails about urgent matters in the office that need your attention. Then someone calls you tell you about the emails. Then someone texts you to confirm what they said in the phone call.

It is at times like that you might consider hurling your phone as far away as it will possibly go. In Finland, they decided to make a sport out of it. Sadly, for the sake of sportsmanship you may only throw the phones provided by the event organisers, not your own phone. But you can choose from a range of colours and sizes. There is some controversy over whether heavier or light phones will go furthest. It would be more interesting to see whether the phone would go furthest after receiving an email from HR or a call from your ex.

Es Firo

If your town was invaded by pirates, there are any number of reasonable responses. Fear, shock, heavy investment in coastal-facing armaments, these are all rational responses. In Sóller and Port de Sóller they decided “Let’s do that again! Every year!”

They get two young girls to play the roles of “Courageous women” who fend off the Turkish pirates, while elsewhere in the town several bloody battles are re-enacted with a definite level of glee, culminating in a final sea front battle climax.

Mud Olympics

There isn’t much to say about this event, which takes place on the River Elbe estuary near Hamburg, that you can’t clean from the name. They hold their own Olympic games. Those games are not clean. Events include mud volleyball, mud handball, and a tug of war, in some mud.

We advise you bring a clean change of clothes to this one. Eh… maybe all of them.