Europe

5 wonderfully weird traditions in Europe

Here at STA Travel HQ, we’re fans of anything that’s slightly weird, or makes us question the sanity of the people who take part, including ourselves. We thought we’d do a round-up of what we think sound like some of the most fun traditions around Europe – because what would the world be without a little weirdness?

International Bathtub Regatta in Dinant, Belgium

Remember those glorious days when you were a kid in a bathtub, and you used to pretend you were in a ship, battling the high seas like a pirate? No, just us? Well the people of Dinant turn that dream into reality every year, by decorating their tub and racing it down the River Meuse. It’s not quite battling the high seas, pirate style, but it is hilarious! Plus, whether you’re a participant or a spectator, it’s free to get involved! (August 15th, FYI).

We’ve got a perfect trip in mind – you can’t go to Belgium without going on a Belgian Beer Tour around the country, right? And guess what? Brussels and Antwerp (the beginning and end points of this tour) are only 1.5 hours from Dinant! Belgian beer and bathtub boat racing? Sounds like a match made in weird heaven.

Mud Olympics – Brunsbuettel, Germany

In this July 30, 2016 picture a #participant throws the ball during the #MudOlympics event at the North Sea tideland in #Brunsbuettel, Germany. (Pic: PTI)

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This is exactly what it sounds like, and has been going since 1978 – 46 teams take part in various competitions, like football, volleyball, and the sledge racing(obviously)… but all in a ridiculous amount of mud, and all in the name of charity. Cue lots of slipping, sliding, and mud to the face (and everywhere really). Maybe you want to represent your own country and go for muddy gold?

Plus, Brunsbuettel is just 1.5 hours from Hamburg, so it’s an easy day trip while you’re exploring Germany – look at our tours across the country!

Ugly face competition – Spain, Bilbao

Did your parents ever tell you when you were making a face, that if someone slapped you on the back it’d stay that way? Well that superstition doesn’t seem to bother the people of Bilbao, who have held the “Concurso de Feos” (ugly face competition) since 1978. It’s part of the ‘Big Week’, which is a nine-day festival full of all sorts of fun, although we liked this competition the most.

What if there was a tour that included Bilbao with lots of other places of interest in Spain? Well there is! We’ve got a 14 day trip that gives you everything you could want from a cultural Spanish ‘spree’ – plus, time it right and you could even join in the Ugly Face Competition (this year the Big Week is between the 12th – 19th of August).

Trifon Zarezan (or wine celebration) – Bulgaria

Singletons or haters of Valentines Day, rejoice! For there is a local Bulgarian holiday we can all get behind: Trifon Zarezan. The period around the February 14th is the time for cutting vines, and this has birthed a tradition – celebrating fertility and the magical qualities of wine (because who doesn’t believe in that?!). We know where we’re headed next Valentines Wine Day.

Why wait til next year though? This country is clearly full of geniuses – we wonder what other amazing things they’ve been hiding from us! Check out our tours in Bulgaria.

Wife-carrying Championship – Sonkajärvi, Finland

World Wife Carrying Championships 2016 … It wasn’t easy as it looked like, but still I enjoyed it much!! Maybe next year again?!? Also thanks for the fans in Hopser! #wifecarrying2016 #estonianstyle #finland

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Regular races are soooo last year, so naturally the next step was to create a wife-carrying race. Guys literally hoist their ladies over their backs and go for gold! And it’s not some amateur competition – couples train for weeks for this event! There are three categories: senior, team and sprint. It’s a fun event, full of friendly faces, food, fun and just a little bit of weirdness.

We don’t take people to the wife-carrying championships, however, we can take people to Finland: check out our tours!

It just goes to show that you can get involved in Europe’s culture in some interesting ways, and can witness some events that not all travelers will know about. If we’ve got you thinking about cultural getaways, then head on over to our website, which lists all the different cultural experiences we have to offer!