Published online at msn.ca's Travel section, March, 2010.
Nowadays there’s a festival for everything. And while we love any excuse to throw a party or make a competition where previously there was none, like toe-wrestling (which does exist) some festivals are more family-friendly than others. Depending on your comfort level with nudity and dangling man bits in public, here’s a list of worldwide festivals and events that are adults-only or R-rated.
HOUNEN MATSURI, OR PENIS FESTIVAL
March 15 every year
Gents, this one’s for you.
Every spring, thousands of locals and tourists alike flock to the Tagata Jinja shrine to pay homage to the male hardware.
Locals erect a statue of a 2.5 m-long wooden phallus (too many puns, so little time) and carry it on a float like a king, from one shrine to another and present it as a gift to the female deity of agricultural fertility.
Boys, if you’ve ever felt shortchanged about the fact that fertility is often depicted in the female form, here’s your vindication.
The festival celebrates rebirth and appeals to the gods for a bountiful harvest and fertility.
Couples are encouraged to touch the phallus or one of the several small wooden schmeckle replicas for healthy babies. Free sake is passed through the crowd and souvenirs include penis-shaped candies and keychains.
A month-long celebration in September
Forget looking for your future soul mate by trolling through cyberspace and do it the old fashioned way, in a town where Irish eyes are always smiling.
Billed as Europe’s largest singles event, thousands of singletons descend on the old town looking for love and a rollicking good time.
The festival is about 150 years old and centers around its healing mineral waters.
When the fall harvest was all turned in, swarms of randy bachelors used to make a pilgrimage to the spa town to bathe in its waters and find themselves a nice little wife with the help of a master matchmaker.
Today there’s only one official cupid left in the town, and while many go, not to find a spouse but have some casual fun, a lot of love matches are made through another medium — bottomless liquid courage.
New Orleans, Louisiana
This pre-Lenten celebration falls on any Tuesday between Feb. 3 and March 9 every year.
Unleash a mob of drunken sorority girls and frisky frat boys into the streets, turn a blind eye to gratuitous nudity and public indecency and you get Mardi Gras.
Girls flash their ninnies willy nilly for the chance to score plastic bead necklaces while the men, driven mad at these free displays of breasts, hoot and holler themselves hoarse.
And ultimately some of these transactions end up in horizontal mambos themselves.
While there are other child-friendly events during Mardi Gras, the official website warns parents to steer clear of the French Quarter at night to spare their little ones’ eyes.
It has a nice ring to it doesn’t it, testicle festival?
Now gents, you may want to cover your eyes or your man bits before continuing because just as the “testyfesty” name suggests, this event is all about bull gonads. For five days, between 10,000 and 15,000 hungry revelers in varying states of undress and sobriety, tuck into plates of severed, beer-battered, deep-fried bull’s testicles, having a ball of a time.
Other highlights of the festival, held annually at the Rocky Creek Lodge in Clinton, MT, include a wet T-shirt contest among women and hairy chest contest for men.
In other words, there’s lots of gratuitous nudity to help the bull go down.
WIFE CARRYING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Kids have the three-legged race, adults have the Wife Carrying World Championships. Hey, it’s only fair.
Hubbies hoist their fair ladies over their back, shoulders or neck like a sack of potatoes and must carry them across a 250 m obstacle course that includes a water jump. Though the tradition was born of a rather barbarian habit of stealing women from neighbouring villages in the 19th century, it now serves as a great analogy for marriage.
There will be moments, ladies, when you’ll be forced to hold onto your man tightly and navigate the turbulent waters of marriage together, trust he won’t drop you, or be dragged along hair-brained schemes like entering a competition in which you could become smashed potatoes. Such is marriage.
FOLSOM STREET FAIR
San Francisco, California
If you’re looking for an occasion to wear those bum cut-out, leather chaps you bought on sale last year, well do we have the place for you.
The Folsom Street Fair is the world’s largest leather event and attracts more than 400,000 people.
Once a year, the normally quiet subculture of sadomasochists emerges from under the cover of night to take over the streets of San Francisco and publicly display their taste for bondage and dominatrix in broad daylight.
They don their fetish best, are kinky and proud of it.
The festival is in its 27th year and is also the third largest, single-day outdoor event in California.
NUDES-A-POPPIN PAGEANT and FESTIVAL
While little girls the world over watch pageants with wide-eyed admiration for these peace-on-earth loving role models, this ain’t your mama’s beauty contest.
Bits and bobs dangle everywhere the eye can see at this naked beauty pageant where, let’s face it, no one’s looking at the contestant’s smile.
The odd girl will throw on a boa — perhaps to cover up when there’s a chill in the air — but safe for the tats and accessories that’s all that’s worn.
The annual pageant is held every July at the Ponderosa Sun Club, a nudist resort in Roselawn, Ind., and has been attended by such luminaries as David Faustino, also known as Bud Bundy from Married with Children, Kid Rock and Gene Simmons.
The girls compete for such illustrious titles as Miss Nude Galaxy and Most Beautiful Natural Body — because shock of all shocks, not everything on display at this beauty pageant is God-given.
There’s also something for the gals with Mr. Nude Entertainer and Mr. Nude North America.
September through to October
Sure it’s billed as a family event with fun rides and carousels for the kiddies, but do you really want to have to take turns being the DP — designated parent — at a festival centered around beer, or what the Germans call “liquid gold?”
Go child-free and have a stein or three, while soaking in the festive Bavarian atmosphere. If you’re single, find yourself a buxomly blond fraulein or sturdy, lederhosen-ed Hanz.
Careful, though, you may trip over a few victims of the free flowing beer and excess as they lie comatose in the streets, whom the locals refer to as “Bierleichen,” or beer corpses.
More than six million litres of beer are consumed by thirsty attendees each year.
RUNNING OF THE BULLS
July 7 - July 14 every year
There’s a valuable, childhood lesson to be learned from this old, Spanish tradition.
Don’t incite large, sharp-horned animals or put yourself in a position where you volunteer to run for your life — just for kicks. Play pick-up sticks instead.
So far, 15 people have died since record-keeping began. But the Running of the Bulls, the highlight of the Festival of San Fermin, is on the bucket lists of many kamikaze, adrenaline junkie types. The run from the pen to the bull-ring is 825 m and takes just minutes. To enter the race, you have to be over the age of 18.
Olympia exhibition centre, London, UK
Billed as the world’s largest erotic show and exhibition for adults, the Erotica show attracts 70,000 Brits who, for a few days, unfurl their famous stiff upper lip for a bit of jolly old, raunchy fun.
Scantily-clad ladies assume unnaturally bendy positions on stage and hump stripper poles; fire-breathing fetish guys and gals put on light shows; and everyone has bedroom eyes.
Every manner of sexual aide to help spice up the boudoir is on show at the expo, including come-hither lingerie, the most outrageous fetish costumes and the latest mechanized sex toys.