The Weird, the Funny, and the Amazing: October Festivals

Beyond Oktoberfest: World’s Most Bizarre October Festivals

October festivals are a time of year to let loose and celebrate the arrival of autumn. With the crisp fall air and changing leaves, it’s a perfect time to gather with friends and family, enjoy delicious food and drinks, and revel in the festivities of the season. While most people associate October festivals with the world-renowned Oktoberfest in Germany, there are many other bizarre and unique festivals around the world that take place during this time.

From pumpkin chucking contests to coffin races, each festival offers a glimpse into the culture and traditions of the region. Whether you’re looking to explore new destinations or just want to learn more about the diverse celebrations that occur each year in October, this article will take you on a journey to discover the world’s most bizarre October festivals. Join us as we explore the traditions, foods, and activities that make each festival a one-of-a-kind experience.

The Origins of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is a world-famous festival, but not many people know about its origins. It all started in 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I, married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. To celebrate their wedding, the couple organized a horse race and invited the citizens of Munich to attend. The event was so successful that they decided to repeat it every year.


Over the years, the festival grew in size and popularity, with more attractions and activities added. Beer tents were introduced in the late 1800s, and the festival has been associated with beer ever since. Today, Oktoberfest is the largest beer festival in the world, attracting millions of visitors from around the globe. Texas has adopted the tradition and has a number of Texas Oktoberfest celebrations.

But Oktoberfest is not the only October festival worth attending. There are many other bizarre festivals from around the world that are equally fascinating and entertaining. From the pumpkin festivals in the US to the cow racing festival in Indonesia, there is a festival to suit every taste and preference. Exploring these festivals is a great way to learn about different cultures and traditions and broaden your horizons.

World’s Most Bizarre October Festivals

From pumpkin chucking to coffin racing, the world is full of bizarre October festivals that celebrate everything from the spooky to the downright strange.

La Tomatina festival in Bunol, Spain

One such festival is the “La Tomatina” festival in Bunol, Spain, where thousands of participants gather to engage in a giant tomato fight. Every year, on the last Wednesday of August, the town’s streets are transformed into a sea of squished tomatoes as participants hurl them at each other for hours on end.

Zombie Walk in Toronto

Another festival that draws in crowds from around the world is the “Zombie Walk” in Toronto, Canada. This festival, which takes place in October, gives participants the chance to dress up as their favorite zombies and roam the city streets in search of brains (well, not really). The event has grown in popularity over the years and now attracts thousands of undead enthusiasts every year.

Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajarvi, Finland

For those looking for something a little more offbeat, there’s the “Wife Carrying World Championships” in Sonkajarvi, Finland. Every year, men from around the world gather to compete in this bizarre sport, where they carry their wives (or partners) through an obstacle course. The winner takes home their partner’s weight in beer, making it a popular event for both participants and spectators alike.

Coffin Race Festival

Manitou Springs, Colorado

If you’re looking for a truly bizarre October festival, look no further than the coffin race festival in Manitou Springs, Colorado. This festival is held annually on the Saturday before Halloween, and it involves teams of five racing homemade coffins down a 195-meter course. The coffins must have at least one team member inside, and they are pushed by the other team members. The race is not just about speed, however – there are also awards for best coffin design and best team costumes.

Coffin Race Festival
Emma Crawford Coffin Races Parade and Festival in Manitou Springs; image via

The coffin race festival has been a tradition in Manitou Springs for over 20 years, and it is a quirky and fun way to celebrate Halloween. The festival also includes a parade, live music, and food vendors, making it a great day out for the whole family. If you’re feeling brave, you can even sign up to participate in the coffin race yourself – just be prepared for a bumpy ride!

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Since 1972, the city of Albuquerque has hosted ballooning enthusiasts and inquisitive locals at the International Balloon Fiesta. This 39th annual event will have more than 500 registered hot-air or gas balloons and 650 pilots traveling from 17 different countries and 39 U.S. states.


A highlight of the fiesta is on the first night, October 2—the Balloon Glow is a starry display of lit-from-within balloons that seem to triple the number of stars in the night sky. Followed by one of New Mexico’s largest fireworks displays, the moment is consistently named as participants’ favorite.

Monkey Buffet Festival

Lopburi, Thailand

The Monkey Buffet Festival in Thailand is a truly bizarre and unique event, celebrated on the last Sunday of November every year. The festival is held in Lopburi, a town in central Thailand that is known for its large population of monkeys. During the festival, locals and tourists alike gather to watch as over 4,000 kilograms of fruit, vegetables, and other treats are laid out on long tables for the monkeys to feast on.

Monkey Buffet Festival
Monkey Buffet Festival; image via

In addition to the monkey buffet, the festival also features parades, live music, and various other activities. Visitors can also explore the town’s many temples and historic sites, many of which are home to large populations of monkeys.

While the Monkey Buffet Festival may seem strange to outsiders, it is a beloved and important tradition in Lopburi. The festival is a celebration of the town’s unique relationship with its monkey population and is a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of the Thai people. If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable October festival experience, the Monkey Buffet Festival is definitely worth adding to your bucket list!

Black and Blue Festival

Montreal, Canada

In 1991, 800 people gathered to party, sending all proceeds to an organization built to provide resources for people living with AIDS. Now 20 years later, the Black and Blue Festival is the largest gay and lesbian dance fest in the world. If your idea of fun is packing yourself into an over-capacity warehouse full of speakers the size of your office cubicle while showing off your interpretation of the word “dance,” then Montreal, October 6-12, is where you should be.

Black & Blue Festival and Carnaval des Couleurs
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Cheese Rolling Festival

Gloucestershire, England

One of the most bizarre and exciting festivals in October is the annual cheese rolling festival in Gloucestershire, England. This traditional event involves rolling a round of Double Gloucester cheese down a steep hill, while competitors chase after it, trying to catch it. The first person to cross the finish line at the bottom of the hill with the cheese in hand is declared the winner. The cheese can reach incredible speeds, sometimes over 70 miles per hour, making it a thrilling and dangerous spectacle to watch.

Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling
Cheese Rolling Festival; Image: ©Thousand Word Media Ltd

This festival has been held for centuries and has become a much-loved tradition in England, attracting visitors from all over the world. It’s not just the cheese rolling that’s exciting – there are also a number of other quirky events and activities that take place, such as the uphill race and the children’s race. The festival is a great opportunity to experience British culture, have some fun, and maybe even try your luck at cheese rolling! However, it’s worth noting that due to the high speed and steepness of the hill, this event can be dangerous and should only be attempted by experienced runners.

Oklahoma Oktoberfest

Tulsa, Oklahoma

That’s right, Oklahoma is home to one of the most highly praised Oktoberfest celebrations. Tipsy frat boys, crazed foodies, and even locals applaud the event’s yearly execution. Bon Appétit, USA Today, ABC News, and Maxim are all major media outlets that have ranked T-Town among their top ten places to chug a beer—as if any of us really need advice on where to do that. Admission will set you back six dollars, and shuttles run from various points in the city. Mugs and pretzels the size of your head, accordion tunes on repeat, and over-zealous keg-tappers abound.

Tulsa Oktoberfest
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Wife-carrying Championship

Sonkajärvi, Finland

One of the most bizarre October festivals in the world is the wife-carrying championship held annually in Sonkajärvi, Finland. The event sees men from all over the world compete to carry their wives or partners over a 253.5-meter-long obstacle course. The winner is awarded their wife’s weight in beer, which makes for a fantastic prize!

The origins of the championship date back to the 19th century when it was rumored that men would steal wives from neighboring villages and carry them off into the forest. It was then turned into a sport in the 1990s and has grown to become a major attraction in Finland.

The rules of the competition state that the wives must weigh at least 49 kilograms, and if they do not, they will be burdened with a rucksack filled with weights to make up the difference. The race is not for the faint-hearted, as the course is filled with obstacles such as water pits, sand traps, and barriers, all of which must be navigated while carrying a partner.

The wife-carrying championship has become so popular that it has now spread to other countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. So, if you’re looking for a unique and bizarre October festival, head to Finland and witness the wife-carrying championship for yourself!

Kohpangan Full Moon Party

Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand

Full Moon Party. This all-night beach party started in 1985 as a “secret” getaway from the highly trotted tourist trail and now houses a rowdy bunch of nearly 20,000 adventure seekers each full moon, the next being October 23. Bars, bands and the police stay up until sunrise the next day to ensure the party keeps going… safely.

Kohpangan Full Moon Party
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Though the festival has gotten a bit of a bad rep, more recent events have seen a crackdown on the, uh, crack, and Thai police have been out in force patrolling the once-isolated party. My advice: Stick to Singha, Tiger, and Chang, don’t bring anything with you more valuable than a ten-dollar bill, and make sure to stumble back to your hotel room instead of a bed on the beach.

Pumpkin Festival

Keene, New Hampshire

If you’re a fan of pumpkins, then you won’t want to miss the annual pumpkin festival in Keene, New Hampshire. This festival is held on the weekend before Halloween and is a celebration of all things pumpkin.

The festival is known for its famous pumpkin tower, which is made up of over 30,000 carved pumpkins stacked on top of each other. The tower stands at an impressive 50 feet tall and is an amazing sight to see.

 Pumpkin Festival
image via

The festival is also home to a variety of pumpkin-themed events, including a pumpkin pie eating contest, pumpkin bowling, and pumpkin seed spitting contests. There are also carnival rides, live music, and food vendors selling pumpkin-themed treats.

One of the highlights of the festival is the pumpkin weigh-off, where pumpkin growers from all over the country compete to see who can grow the largest pumpkin. The winner of the competition receives a cash prize and bragging rights as the grower of the largest pumpkin in the country.

The pumpkin festival in Keene, New Hampshire is a unique and fun-filled event that is perfect for families and pumpkin lovers alike. Whether you’re interested in seeing the pumpkin tower, trying pumpkin-flavored treats, or competing in one of the many pumpkin-themed contests, there is something for everyone at this festival.

Chonburi Buffalo Races

Chonburi, Thailand

The first weekend in October is when farmers from the Thai province of Chonburi load up their most highly skilled buffalo and head into the city for some neighborly competition followed by a buffalo-carted parade through the streets of Chonburi City. It is said that the skilled buffs are fed a diet consisting of only beer and eggs.

Chonburi Buffalo Races
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That’s up to your own discretion—unless you are a Thai buffalo breeder in the know. Bring your appetite for some seriously spicy grub and an open mind for celebrating as the Thai do: Muay Thai boxing, greasy pole climbing, and rooster fighting. To bring some beauty into the festivities, each year a new “Miss Farm Maiden” is crowned.

Abu Simbel Sun Festival

Abu Simbel, Egypt

Ramses II took charge of his architectural history when he had his temple painstakingly built and angled at Abu Simbel so that the inner sanctum would light up twice a year when the sun hit it perfectly.

Abu Simbel Sun Festival
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And now on his birthday and the anniversary of his taking the throne, travelers gather to watch the inner sanctum glow radiantly as the statue of Ptah (the god of darkness) stays in a dimly lit shadow. These two events are called the Abu Simbel Festival. When Nasser Lake rose in the 60s, the entire temple was saved and brought to higher ground. Subsequently, the sun now hits a day later than initially planned.


Seattle, Washington

If you like fake blood and vampire’s teeth, get your zombie walk on over to the three-day event of all things gore. For $30, slide into your best duds for Prom Night of the Living Dead, a Halloween costume party. Other events include a tribute to the “Godfather of Zombie Films,” George Romero, a blood-red carpet screening of The Day of the Dead, and a blood drive to benefit the Puget Sound Blood Center. If you get queasy easily, this isn’t the event for you.

image via facebook

Final Word

Attending these bizarre October festivals will give you a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else. These festivals offer a chance to immerse yourself in a different culture, try new food, and learn about the traditions of different countries. It’s an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and create unforgettable memories.

By attending these festivals, you’ll get a chance to meet new people and make new friends from all over the world. You’ll also be supporting local communities and economies by participating in their cultural events.

Attending these festivals is not just about having fun, but it’s also about learning and experiencing something new. You’ll gain a new perspective on the world and its diverse cultures.

We hope you enjoyed our article about the world’s most bizarre October festivals. While Oktoberfest is widely known and celebrated, there are many other unique and interesting festivals that take place around the world during this month. We hope that this article has inspired you to explore some of these lesser-known festivals and perhaps even plan a trip to attend one.

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