By John Salak –
John Lennon may have said it best. “Whatever gets you through the night ‘salright, ‘salright.”
Okay, but how do Lennon’s insights explain why people engage in some highly unique interactive festivals? Also, what are they getting out of them? And before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, we’re not commenting on the Burning Man Festival. No, we’ve got others in mind.
Consider Philadelphia’s Naked Bike Ride, designed to promote fuel-conscious consumption, now in its 14th year. There is also Spain’s annual La Tomatina Festival, where about 15,000 people gather in Bunol and then hurl 120 tons of overripe tomatoes at each other.
If naked cycling or tomato smashing isn’t weird enough, the famed World Bog Snorkeling Championships is held annually in the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells. Competitors here get extremely dirty swimming through 60 yards of water-filled bogs.
These are only a few of the bizarre festivals people get themselves into, like Finland’s Wife Carrying Contest, The Baby Jumping Festival in Spain (don’t ask), Canada’s International Hair Freezing Content and Britain’s Toe Wrestling Championships, among endless others.
So, what gives? Why do thousands of people flock to these events each year?
“It’s a very freeing experience and something that you should do once in your life for that freedom,” Atlantic City’s Garry J. Gadikian said before having his bare flesh dressed up with body paint and glitter and peddling off in the 2023 Philadelphia cycle event.
The travel blog Vicky Flip Flop amazingly offered deeper insights.
“It’s easy to think festivals are just about a bunch of privileged people in a field drinking cider and dancing – and yes, those festivals are great – but the layers of significant cultural importance that make up even those festivals represent a long journey within a particular culture, society and history,” writes blogger Victoria Philpott.
“They’re tribal. They’re representative of what a certain way of life thinks, the way they express themselves, and offer a safe space for people to explore and welcome this part of their identity,” she adds.
We are not sure what tribe of tomato smashers and baby jumpers belong to, but we’ll take Ms. Philpott’s word.
The Caveman Music Festival, based in Weston, Colorado, offers a somewhat clearer take on why festivals, music or otherwise, are important.
“Festivals are important because they give us a chance to disconnect from our daily lives. They allow us to switch off from the daily stresses and worries of shelter, finances and food.,” the site reports. “Moreover, festivals also allow us to socialize and enjoy ourselves in a fun environment. Besides, they help us build community pride.”
Well, if freedom and comfort can be found in hair-freezing, wife carrying or bog snorkeling, go for it. Whatever gets you through the night.