Forget Lollapalooza. Mardi Gras is for the birds. St. Patty's? Bugger off! Let the dull and unoriginal flock to these busted gatherings. If you want to have a real great time, if plunging into the world's odd and wacky is your flavor, then check out these bizarre celebrations around the world. You wouldn't believe what some people do en masse for fun. Find out and join in.
It started with a true visionary: Dr. Rudy Melone, a college president, was shocked to learn that a small French town considered itself the Garlic Capital of the World. His dream was to prove to the world that Gilroy, an even smaller California village, should hold that honor.
Behold the largest event in the world featuring everything garlic. Garlic soup, garlic pie, garlic kebabs, and garlic sandwiches await brave souls for whom halitosis is not an issue. Musicians sing odes to garlic while artists sell their garlic masterpieces. It's a truly unique and pungent event.
Best feature: The "Garlic Festival Queen Pageant" crowns the loveliest garlic waif, the wet dream of all Gilroy guys. Just don't kiss her.
Cow Painting Festival
The country that everyone forgets is a country can take credit for exploiting the most overlooked canvas for artistic creation: fake cows. Every summer this capital city comes alive with metal, wooden, concrete, and fiberglass cows sporting the wildest whims of its artists. There are cows with zebra udders, and others with painted on Alpine landscapes and paisley swirls, which join naked women on the streets and squares. Some even moo.
There are no prizes and no winners. It's just a whole whack of art on cows. You gotta wonder how exciting the people who live among them are...
Best feature: Being seen deeply contemplating with a local, about the artistic merits of a cow painting... preferably after several beers.
Ivrea Orange Festival
Centuries ago, the people in this town rebelled against an evil count who dragged virgin brides from their homes and deflowered them before their weddings. Not only was he beheaded, even his guards were stoned to death.
Fast forward to the 21st century, an era of strict EU agricultural regulations, where Italy has to destroy its yearly surplus of oranges. Replace stones with the excess fruit and the guards with clowns on chariots, and you've got a very juicy celebration indeed.
This is quite possibly the wackiest and funniest way to observe a historical milestone. We're talking tons of oranges launched by 10,000 partiers!
Best feature: At the end of the festival, a newlywed woman dressed in white -- representing the virgin who led the insurrection -- showers the people with candy.
The Thai New Year includes no silly paper hats, no fireworks show, and no champagne. The Thai know that a real party begins when 100,000 people show up with massive water guns, water balloons and colored sprinkles.
Just imagine getting soaked five times over and then walking around encased in a rainbow-colored batter. The festival's roots are quite serious, as the water symbolizes one's inner cleansing into the next year, but organizers know that a festival is no good if it doesn't get messy.
Best feature: The "Miss Songkran Contest" caps a fun week featuring beautiful Thai women in traditional dresses.
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