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Almost Dead in Spain and other weird summer festivals

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Story by

irene fazio

Translation by:

Sarah Truesdale


Mobile phone throwing championships in Finland, the Almost Dead Festival in Spain, pig calling contests in France and the swamp diving champs in Wales; this summer, any extravagance is allowed

Galicia: ‘Santa Marta de Ribarteme’

A procession takes them to the church in coffins carried by their families

The festival of Santa Marta de Ribarteme takes place on 29 July in Las Nieves, a little village close to Portugal. A macabre and peculiar procession makes its way through the streets in honour of those who have had a close brush with death, but have been lucky enough to live to tell the tale. A procession takes them to the church in coffins carried by their families. After these mock funeral services, they come out and tell their extraordinary stories … and then dance the night away!

France: ‘Pourcailhade Festival’

Participants compete to make the best stuffed pork or to eat the most blood sausage

The Pourcailhade Festival has taken place for the last 25 years in Trie sur Baïse, a little town in the French Pyrenees. The participants compete to make the best stuffed pork or to eat the most blood sausage. You can also bet on the best breed of pig in the competition. But, the most curious event is the French Pig Call Championships. It might sound like a joke, but it is a deadly serious competition. If your ears are not too sensitive, it’s certainly a unique experience. Be there in the second week of August

Bog Snorkelling in Llanwrtyd Wells 

Grab your flippers, mask and snorkel and head for … the swamp. Bog Snorkelling takes place on the last Sunday of August in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. You can have a go at ‘deep-swamp’ diving, take to the mud with a mountain bike or enter in the all new marsh triathlon. The idea came about one night in 1986 in the local pub and became a resounding success. According to the event’s web site, the 2006 event attracted more than 100 participants and several hundred spectators. It is strictly forbidden for competitors to do the crawl, breaststroke or butterfly: they must have their head under the water, supposedly so they can admire the splendours of the murky depths

Finland: world mobile throwing championships

The ninth Mobile Phone Throwing World Championship will begin on 23 August in Savonlinna, Finland. Many among us have dreamed of doing this one day: throwing your mobile phone as far as possible and watching it land and smash somewhere in the distance. Every year, a hundred or so athletes from around the world attempt to do the best throw. Competitors can choose the brand and model of their choice

Switzerland: Barbecue Championship

The Swiss Grill and Barbecue Championship offers two days of uninterrupted grilling at the BEA Bern Expo. Visitors can participate in the competition and also partake in the delicious banquets. Thirty teams from three continents challenge each other with barbecue tongs to gain the title of Grill Expert. The twelfth ever event takes place between 16 - 17 August 

Greece: Zante Carnival

The island of Zante hosts a magnificent carnival every year in August. This festival lasts for two weeks, employs Zante’s inhabitants almost full-time and attracts hundreds of visitors from all over Greece. It is a reprise of the famous Venice Carnival, which finishes up in the main square with the Masked Funeral, featuring the Carnival King, followed by a procession of bereaved parents

Madrid: water fight

In memory of the Virgen del Carmen, patron saint of Madrid’s Vallecas district, an ancient but fascinating water battle is organised every year on 20 July. Dressed as pirates and armed with ice cubes, hosepipes and water guns, the aim is to get as wet as possible. Thousands of ‘armed’ people kick off the water fight at five in the afternoon by screaming ‘¡Agua, agua, queremos agua!’ (‘Water, water, we want water!’)

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Translated from Il festival dell’assurdo