Every country has its cultural quirks, but when it comes to unusual experiences and eccentric activities, Spain knows how to mix it with the best of them. Sure, like many other countries, it has its book festivals and musical festivals, but every now and again you’ll hear about some peculiar festival or bizarre event, which attract scores of residents and even overseas tourists.

Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls and Valencia’s Tomatina Tomato Fight, not to mention some of the country’s slightly over-the-top Easter traditions, such as people actually nailing themselves to crosses, but this zany part of the Mediterranean opens up a world of possibilities to enjoy the vibrancy of Spain while on holidays and experience even more weird and wacky festivals. Wonderful? — that’s for you to judge.

Photo By: Jmaiba via Wikimedia Commons

Paint, Tar and Oil Throwing Festival (Cascamorras) – Guadix and Baza

The smell of tomatoes isn’t that overwhelming and they probably won’t stain your clothes too badly either, but what about being covered in paint, oil and tar? The Cascamorras festival isn’t exactly a celebration, but more an exhibition of abuse and humiliation.

Back in 1490 in the town of Baza, residents from Gaudix found a statue of the Virgin Mary under some rubble. Baza won the argument about who should keep it, and now every September someone from Gaudix must run through the streets and attempt to steal it back. If they return clean, the statue can be returned to Gaudix, so the friendly locals of Baza pelt the unlucky individual with whatever they can find. Unfortunately for the would-be thief, this is usually paint, tar and oil.

The Baby Jumping Festival of El Colacho – Castrillo de Murcia

On the Feast of Corpus Christi, scores of mattresses are laid out on the streets of Castrillo de Murcia and every baby born within the last twelve months is positioned in a line. Local men, who dress up as devils, jump over these unwitting infants to protect them from evil spirits. This might sound pretty dangerous and irresponsible — and perhaps that’s a fair comment — but El Colacho has been around since the 17th century.

Photo By: Celestebombin
Photo By: Celestebombin

Goat Tossing Festival – Manganeses de la Polvorosa

More goats in the sky than on the road, we simply had to include this particular festival even though it was outlawed by the town’s council in 1992 due to the intervention of animal rights groups.

Photo By: Örjan Mattsson
Photo By: Örjan Mattsson

It all started because of a generous priest, who would go around nearby villages with a goat giving out milk. This somewhat adventurous animal once made it to the top of the church tower but was startled by the bell and fell off. Thankfully, he was caught at the bottom and lived to see, fight and climb another day. However, the locals decided to see whether other goats were just as lucky and subjected them to the same treatment. Perhaps more wicked than weird…

Photo By: B + V
Photo By: B + V

If these festivals are a bit too crazy for you then don’t worry. The Spanish have flour and wine throwing events too, which are more enjoyable and even more carefree! They’re a great excuse for a knees-up and as just as unique a travel experience as the festivals above. You just need to make sure that you’re not wearing your Sunday best! That said, it’s an excuse to muck up that shirt that was a gift but you never really liked!

Images by Jmaibaaaroncorey, Celestebombin, Örjan Mattsson and B+V used under creative commons license.

This Article Was Written By: Dylan Price 

What do you think of these festivals…in particular, the Goat Tossing?!

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Getting Out of Hand — Spain’s Wilder Festivals

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Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift

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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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6 thoughts on “Getting Out of Hand — Spain’s Wilder Festivals

  1. Spanish festival are like its people: diverse, passionate and authentic. I’d say that there is a festival going on somewhere in Spain any time of the year. This year I am going to la Tomatina for the frist time in my life and I am totally excited about it!

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