Chinchilla Melon Festival (Queensland)
Remember how Mum used to say don’t play with your food? Sorry Mum, we didn’t listen – melons are way too much fun! Watermelon-fueled obstacle events lead the fun parade at the Chinchilla Melon Festival, where melon-choly (excuse the pun!) is not on the menu. The small Queensland Outback town of Chincilla lets it hair down in a melon-fuelled frenzy involving melon skiing, melon bungy, melon ironman and a melon chariot race. When: February Where: Chinchilla, Queensland Australia
Beer Can Regatta (Northern Territory)
Northern Territorians are known to be big beer drinkers. It’s got something to do with that year-round sunshine which necessitates constant re-hydration. Not the sort of folk to let an opportunity slip by, boats are constructed completely of beer cans, abiding by #3 of the Ten Can-mandments, which decree that ‘The craft shall float by cans alone.’
Even if you don’t build your own craft, there’s plenty to see, do and drink on Mindil Beach each year – don’t miss it! When: July Where: Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Newkind Festival (Tasmania)
The truth behind Newkind is a convoluted story of intrigue involving a vagabond artist and a visionary scientist who stumbled upon a seemingly deserted tech facility on Tasmania’s east coast. Blueprints for a city yet to built, plans for renewable energy systems, a seed library and construction materials started the Newkind dream.
The inaugural festival brings together thought leaders and innovators to empower and inspire agents of change. If that sounds a bit like gobbledegook, Newkind’s style is deliberately spacey. Are you one of us?’ they ask festival goers. Expect lectures and development workshops, physical training sessions, experimental art and immersive theatre. When: March Where: Venue to be disclosed, Tasmania
Mike the Headless Chicken Festival (USA)
Yep, you read that right. The story of Mike the rooster harks back to 1945 when Mike refused to adhere to the axe in timeless head-chopping ritual prior to a Sunday roast. Expected to be a lay down misere, Mike was having none of it, surviving a further 18 months without a head. For 19 years, this annual festival has worshipped a chook’s extraordinary with Mike’s never say die attitude making him the poster child for aspiring long-lived chooks across the globe.
Festival festivities include singing, partying and dancing. The Chicken Dance is popular. When: June Where: Fruita, Colorado USA
Wogasia Spear Throwing Festival (Solomon Islands)
On the small island of far-flung Santa Catalina in the Solomon Islands, warrior men gather on the beach at dawn to fling hand-carved spears at each other. Egged on by women and children who whoop and holler for their men / dads, it’s an opportunity to air past grievances, dispense with any issues and move into the new year afresh. Wogasia also gives thanks for the past year’s yam crop along with hopes for a successful upcoming season. Midnight soirees through the village dodging villagers tossing foul-smelling offal concoctions and smouldering coconut husks are one of the festival highlights. When: June Where: Santa Catalina Island, Solomon Islands
Naadam Festival (Mongolia)
A national Mongolian holiday, Naadam Festival is the most important celebration on the Mongolian calendar. The main event sees fired-up males compete in the Three Games of Men in horse racing, archery and wrestling. With an opening ceremony mixing monks, the military and athletes, the competition plays out over two colourfully spectacular days. When: July Where: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Gion Matsuri Festival (Japan)
Like many shrine celebrations, which the Japanese know as matsuri, Kyoto’s month long Gion Matsuri Festival is an elaborate affair kicking off with the Yamaboko Parade. Around 30 yama floats are adorned with elaborate tapestries, wooden and metal ornaments topped with 6m hoko (which is a Japanese doll) masterpieces pulled by 50-strong teams of men.
When: July Where: Kyoto, Japan
Jambhay Lhakhang (Bhutan)
Bhutan is well known for its Gross National Happiness Index, so it’s no surprise that Jambay Lhakhang Festival is awash with colourfully adorned, happy Bhutanese dancing, singing, socialising and praying over many days.
Bhutan wasn’t quite so cheery though. Legend has it that Jambhay temple, at the heart of festival celebrations, was constructed in one day in order to pin down an ogress causing obstruction to the spread of Buddhism. But that’s all in the past. Nowadays, the festival highlight is the after dark Fire Ritual, a sacred naked dance performed by Bhutanese men.
When: November Where: Bumthang, Bhutan
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About the Author
Fiona Harper is one of Australia’s most respected travel writers. Follow her at Travel Boating Lifestyle.