Annual fits of madness

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 April, 2009, 12:00am

La Tomatina

La Tomatina, held on the last Wednesday of August each year, is basically a festival food fight. Held in Bu?ol, a small town in the Valencia region of Spain, revellers pelt each other with tens of thousands of tomatoes, turning the streets into a sea of red. The tradition began in 1945, but no one is completely certain how or why. It may have started as a food fight between friends or as a practical joke on a bad musician, among other theories. However it began, today up to 40,000 tourists join the town's 9,000 residents to hurl tomatoes at each other in a week of messy fun.


Songkran provides wet relief from the heat during the hottest time of the year in Thailand. Marking the end of the dry season, Songkran is the Thai New Year and is held from April 13 to 15 each year. Everybody takes to the streets with buckets of water and water guns, and chaos ensues.

The festival originated as a way to show respect to people, using water that had been poured over a Buddha and was thus blessed. But today the emphasis is on fun and many tourists join in the madness. If you join in the fun, expect to get very wet and leave your camera in your hotel room.

Roswell UFO Festival

In early July, 1947, a mysterious object crashed on a ranch around 50km north of Roswell, New Mexico, the United States. The Roswell Army Air Field issued a statement claiming it had recovered a crashed 'flying disc'. But the next day it said it had recovered a high-altitude 'weather balloon'. Probably the most famous UFO incident in history, the festival is complete with alien parades and alien costume contests. It takes place from July 2 to 5.

Hadaka Matsuri

Hadaka Matsuri - literally 'Naked Festival' - is held in many places in Japan once or twice a year, and is an opportunity for men to display their strength.

Festival participants are not completely naked. Usually they dress in a Japanese loincloth or sometimes a short traditional coat.

Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling & Wake

The annual Cheese-Rolling competition is held on Cooper's Hill in Gloucester, England, usually in the first week of May. The tradition is at least 200 years old and of unknown origin. For a long time, the festival was celebrated by the village of Brockworth, but now people come from all over the world.

The festival is actually a race in which competitors chase a round piece of Double Gloucester cheese down a hill. Since the cheese travels so fast, it is not possible to catch it. The first runner over the line gets the cheese.