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Unusual Festivals That Take Place In Europe

Unusual Festivals That Take Place In Europe

Posted from Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

No matter what time of the year you visit,  Europe has a wide variety of festivals to choose from. Some are more well known than others (Oktoberfest in Munich or the Edinburgh Fringe Festival etc) but all are worth checking out. There happens to be a few unusual ones as well.

Here is a list of Europe’s rather “unique” festivals:

1.) Air Guitar Festival,  Finland

Air Guitar Festival in Finland
Image: Airguitar WC2010 1″ by Anitagraser – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Airguitar_WC2010_1.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Airguitar_WC2010_1.JPG

For those of you who ever dreamed of becoming a rock star- here is your chance.. well.. kind of. The rules are you must play air guitar. The performer with the most realistic,  energetic and convincing moves gets the title of champion. What started off as a side performance at the Oula Festival back in 1996,  has now become one of the main attractions- bringing people from all over the world. If you think you have what it takes to become a world champion air guitarist you can check out the details on their website,  here.


2.) Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Festival,  UK

“CheeseRolling” by Dave Farrance – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CheeseRolling.jpg#mediaviewer/File:CheeseRolling.jpg

In a nut shell,  this festival consists of a wheel of cheese rolling down a 295 foot hill,  while a ton of people chase it by rolling down after it. This event goes back nearly 200 years with it’s roots possibly going back to Roman times. Although it sounds innocent enough,  this festival is not for the faint of heart. The 30-40 contestants involved ususally go away with bruised bodies or even worse,  broken bones. In 2010,  the festival was”officially” cancelled,  due to the amount of injuries associated with it. The locals must really love their cheese rolling though because the festival is still running to this day (unofficially of course) gathering thousands of visitors every year.


3.) Wife Carrying World Championship,  Finland

Wife Carrying Festival, Finland
Image:”Estonian Carry style”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Estonian_Carry_style.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Estonian_Carry_style.jpg

This festival involves just what the name suggests-men carrying their wives over their backs while completing a 253 metre course. The festival takes place in the Finish town of Sonkajärvi where the act of “wife-carrying” originated. Rumour has it that a notorious robber would go to nearby villages and steal other men’s wives by carrying them on his back. Due to the training and strength needed,  the act of stealing wives turned into a sporting event,  where it now gathers spectators in the thousands. The competition is open to anyone but in order to win consider months of training beforehand. Although,  some see the festival as fun,  there are those  who take it seriously and train hard in advance.

If you think you and your partner have what it takes to win the world championship you can get more details,  here.

4.) Oil Wrestling Festival,  Turkey 

Oil Wrestling in Turkey. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yagli_gures3.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Yagli_gures3.JPG

Said to be the world’s oldest annual sporting event,  oil wrestling is a lot harder than it sounds. This week-long festival has been an annual event in the city of Edirne for nearly 700 years. It is such a unique event that UNESCO has named it an “intangible heritage” event. Every year men dressed in nothing but cow hide trousers and olive oil wrestle each other for the winning title of’Chief Pehlivan(wrestler)’.Pehlivan’s are seen as heroes in the turkish culture,  with many contestants training years in advance.

For more details,  click here.

5.)Battle of the Oranges,  Italy

Borghetto Battle of Oranges by Giò – Borghetto Battle of Oranges – Battaglia delle Arance 2007 – Ivrea. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Borghetto_Battle_of_Oranges_-_Battaglia_delle_Arance_2007_-_Ivrea.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Borghetto_Battle_of_Oranges_-_Battaglia_delle_Arance_2007_-_Ivrea.jpg

Many people have heard of La Tomatina-a festival in Spain where people fill the streets and have one big tomato fight-but in the Italian town of Ivrea,  the weapon of choice are oranges. Unlike La Tomatina,  The battle of the oranges is steeped in history and the participants take the battle very seriously. In order to participate you must be a part of a team- and these teams are local,  but for a fee of 120 euros foreigners have the chance to participate as well. If you rather stand on the sidelines you can join the thousand of other spectators for free,  and not have to worry about bruises the next day.

For more info click,  here.


6.) Matchmaking Festival,  Ireland

The Matchmaker Bar

For all the single folk out there,  maybe its time to consider visiting the small Irish town of Lisdoonvarna. Here you will find the town’s famous match maker Willie Daly. Over the last 45 years of being a match maker Willie has set up close to 3, 000 marriages. To find Willie,  you must go to the Matchmaker Bar,  where every year in September,  thousands of singles visit with the hopes of finding their soul mate. This matchmaking festival is known as Europe’s largest singles event,  attracting close to 40, 000 people a year.  If you are looking for love consider making a trip to Lisdoonvarna,  you never know,  your soul mate might be there waiting for you.

To learn more click,  here.


Interested in learning more about festivals throughout the world? Check out Fest 300

2 thoughts on “Unusual Festivals That Take Place In Europe”

  • Hahaha. I love this post never heard of either of these festivals…. the rolling down the hill one is just a little to dangerous for my liking. Really enjoyed the videos that came with.

    • Ha- yup. They are too good to NOT share. Glad you enjoyed the post:) We do love cheese and all, but not enough to roll down a steep hill and possibly break some bones.. ha.

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