Let’s be honest: most of us have that one interest that’s a little bit out of the box, a bit too obscure and specific to be something you can talk about with just anyone. These guilty pleasures or interesting pastimes are what makes us unique, and how boring would the world be if it was any other way?
Here I have rounded up the best of the weirdest, most specific or most unique festivals and conventions from around the world. Whether your reaction to these is “who would go to that?” or a resounding “Me!”, they each have their own appeal to a particular subset of people.
1 . Golden Retriever Festival (Scotland)
This elusive gathering has only happened twice so far, once in 2006 and once in 2013, but there’s no telling what might happen in the future - in fact, word is that there’s another planned for 2018. Officially called the Guisachan Gathering as it takes place at the birthplace of the breed, Guisachan Estate near Tomich in Inverness-shire (out of the way, but a UK Airport car rental
will see you right), this festival is run by the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland and is just as charming as you would imagine - the first had 188 goldens, the second 222. That’s a lot of energetic cuteness in one place.
What happens at a Golden Retriever Festival, besides frolicking and photographs? A dog show of course, with lots of ribbons to adorn golden fur. There is plenty of socialising for canines and humans alike, a dinner and more events over the course of five days.
2 . Redhead Convention (Ireland)
This one’s not really a niche interest, more of a rare phenotype that brings people together - although there are certainly those out there very interested in redheads who might like to attend! The Irish Redhead Convention, brainchild of ginger siblings Joleen and Denis Cronin, is an annual event taking place in Crosshaven, County Cork in August. Grab a car rental in Ireland
to check it out.
Run by volunteers, the convention raises money for the Irish Cancer Society, a fitting beneficiary. The programme of events for 2016’s festival includes redhead competitions for humans and animals including a crowning of king and queen for the year, live music, ginger speed-dating (gene preservation), redhead photo exhibitions, harbour tours, a Ceili dance, a tug of war, carrot tossing and many other fun activities.
3 . Merfest (North Carolina, USA)
Some people like to dress up as real animals, others like to dress up as fantasy creatures. Merfest in North Carolina is an “annual celebration of all thing mer,” and takes place at an Aquatic Centre in Cary. Attendees don tails (helped by mertenders - those things can be hard to get on!) and enjoy expressing their alter egos in the pool. It is run by a group called NC Merfolk, who are also available for birthday parties, luaus and photoshoots.
The merfest is all about mermaids and mermen meeting, networking and honing their craft. Events on the schedule include group swims, seminars, an underwater fashion show, mermaid performances, modelling and breath-holding workshops, balls, dinners and more. A fabulous meeting of merfolk! Get there with a USA car rental
4 . Mud Festival (New Zealand)
This one hasn’t happened just yet, but is on New Zealand’s international event schedule for 2017, to take place in Rotorua which is a city in the central North Island popular with tourists. While mud might seem like a very odd thing to celebrate, this event makes a little more sense when you consider that the mud has very beneficial properties and this region is well-known for its geothermal activity including bubbling mud pools! The festival will take place in early December, the beginning of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
What will go down at a Mud Fest? There is no wrestling planned, but plenty of spa and wellness experiences, informative exhibitions on the history of the uses of mud and the Rotorua region, mud art and more. The festival will also have a Korean counterpart, as the city of Boryeong already runs a successful annual mud festival. Pick up a New Zealand car rental
to get you there!
5 . Ute Muster (Australia)
It doesn’t get much more Aussie than this. What’s a ute, you might ask? It could also be known as a pickup or flatbed truck, and is a favoured form of transport in rural Australia, a treasured part of the culture. The annual event takes place in Deniliquin, rural New South Wales (although a Melbourne Airport car hire
in Victoria is the best way to start your journey) and began in 1999 as the “Play on the Plains Festival” which included a world record gathering of utes with 2839 of the vehicles taking part in an inaugural parade.
Nowadays, the festival has grown and centres around the Ute Muster, celebrating the vehicle and the culture it is part of. It attracts almost 25,000 visitors to “Deni” each year. Tickets include camping, concerts, country-style competitions and ute rodeos and more A&P-style entertainment. A real Aussie cultural treasure!
6 . Kanamara Matsuri (Japan)
For those who don’t know any Japanese, this is an innocent-sounding name for a festival. However the English moniker is something like “Festival of the Steel Phallus,” and it is a religious Shinto celebration of all things penis, with links to fertility. It also raises awareness of safe sex practices and and funds for HIV prevention research. Sound like fun? A Japan car rental
is the way to get there and see it for yourself.
Held annually around early April in Kawasaki near the Kanayama Shrine where sex workers come year round to pray for protection against STDs, Kanamara Matsuri is a real and storied event but has become a bit of a tourist attraction also. As well as parades and shows, there are myriad phallic items for sale: lollipops, candles, carvings, novelty sunglasses and much more. Visitors can also try a combo of salty dried fish and sweet sake which is purported to taste like semen.
Do any of the above events interest you? Make it your mission to go and experience a gathering of enthusiasts, wherever in the world it might be. Airport Rentals
can help you get there with car rentals available worldwide.