Sunday, June 24, 2012

10 Quirky Festivals

1. Menton Lemon Festival (Fete du Citron), Menton, France
In 1929, Menton was deemed the continent's largest producer of lemons. Since then, Menton has been celebrating
the citrus fruit every February with its Lemon Festival. The festival takes on a different theme each year. 
Some of the past themes included Disney, Neverland, and India. The colourful and lively festival includes parades, 
fireworks and music, and the Casino Gardens in the centre of town are decorated with sculptures and exhibitions
built from lemons (and oranges).

2. The Running of the Bulls, St Fermin Festival
Pamplona, Spain

Held every year in July, the Running of the Bulls is the top
profile event during the San Fermin festival. Runners don
traditional white shirts and red neckerchiefs and run a 
distanceof about 826 metres while bulls charge behind them. 
The event originated from having to transport the bulls from 
the corral to the bullring.

3. Tomatina Festival
Buñol, Spain

People from all over the world partake in the tomato-throwing
food fight held in August. An estimated 40 metric tons of 
tomatoes are used, and the tomatoes must be squished before being thrown as a precaution. At around 10 am, festivities begin with the 
first event of the Tomatina, where one person climbs a 
greased pole to reach a ham placed at the top, while the 
crowd is showered by water cannons.

4. Las Fallas
Valencia, Spain

In commemoration of Saint Joseph, Las Fallas is a celebration 
that includes 5 days and nights of historical, religious and 
comedic processions. Each neighbourhood displays a 
firecracker-filled cardboard and papier-mâché artistic 
monument to be burnt in bonfires on the final night. 
Many participants dress in medieval clothing, and, more 
recently, dress as modern characters including Shrek 
and Lady Gaga.

5. Oktoberfest
Munich, Bavaria, Germany

Known as the world's largest fair, this famous beer festival 
began when the citizens of Munich attended the wedding of 
Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese in 1810. 
Currently about 6 million visitors from around the world head 
to Oktoberfest to enjoy the festival's beer, brewed within 
Munich. In 2005, "quiet Oktoberfest" was developed to keep 
the celebration traditional and family friendly. The tents, 
therefore, play music limited to 85 decibels until 6 pm.

6. Calcio Storico
Florence, Italy

A tradition dating back to the 15th century, Calcio Storico 
has been described as a sport resembling both football and 
rugby. The famous and most important match was played 
between the Bianchi and the Verdi in 1530, during the siege 
of Florence. Today, played in a temporary arena, players 
dress in authentic period costume, and run while the 
opposing team tries to stop them. Head butting, punching, 
elbowing, and choking are allowed and customary.

7. Il Carnevale
Venice, Italy

It is said that the first mention of the Carnival of Venice was around the city's victory against the Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrico in the year 1162. The Carnival, which runs until Mardi Gras, is a festival celebrated with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music, and parties. During the Carnival, the streets of Venice are filled with people wearing elaborately designed masks. On the last weekend, there is a contest for the best mask, chosen by a jury of costume and fashion designers.

8. Mount Gaina Maidens' Fair
Transylvania, Romania

On the Sunday closest to 20th July, Romanians in traditional 
costumes meet at Gaina Mountain, where families once 
arranged the marriages of their children. Legend has it that 
fairies brought a magic hen that laid golden eggs to the 
mountain. Each year, the fairies would give the eggs to 
couples who fell in love. The outdoor festival is opened by 
the sound of women playing the alpenhorn, renowned all 
over Europe.

9. Summer Solstice
Stonehenge, Amesbury, UK

Built between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC, Stonehenge is an 
ancient monument that has been studied and debated 
throughout many years, especially because of its 
extraordinary alignment and orientation to the sun. 
Every year on 21st June, people from all over the world 
gather at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise and celebrate 
the longest day of the year.

Sa Sartiglia is an equestrian tournament that takes place on Mardi Gras and Carnival Sunday. Ornately dressed horsemen on steeds galloping at breathtaking speeds aim their swords at a star-shaped ring that hangs from a ribbon. The number of stars impaled represent how lucky the town will be in wealth and harvest for the year.

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