One of the most populous members of the European Union, Germany is filled with art, culture and slick engineering marvels. The people have a reputation for being very precise, which makes the list of festivals below all the more entertaining. Perhaps a healthy dip in the mud once in a while would do all of us a bit of good.
Mud Olympics (Wattolümpiade)
When does Wattolümpiade happen? July
Location: Brunsbüttel (86 km northwest of Hamburg) - northern Germany
Tradition is boring! Wattolümpiade is a single-day competition that pits teams against one another in a series of sports (volleyball, handball, soccer and sledge racing), all played in knee-deep mud.
The games are played on the banks of the Elbe River and the time is limited by the tide. Once the playing field has been exposed, teams with clever names start the events, often sinking up to their knees in slick, slimy silt. It could be said that there is no possibility of a dignified game or a “clean” victory.
Wattolümpiade 2017 will be its 13th year, proving its popularity. Moreover, when team registration opens, it fills up in less than a minute.
The Mud Olympics is smiles all around and not just because of the slip-sliding antics. At the heart of this event is a fundraiser, supporting a great cause. Because the event is entirely funded by sponsors, all funds raised directly benefit cancer patients and their families in the region.
Tübingen Duck Race (Entenrennen)
When does the happen? October
Location: Tübingen (43 km south of Stuttgart) - southwest Germany
Who knew that rubber duckies could plan such a massive breakout?
On the banks of the River Neckar some 7,000 yellow plastic ducks are assembled for the annual Tübingen Entenrennen - or duck race. Participants can enter as many €3 duckies as they'd like, with proceeds of the race going to charity.
The ducks are dropped off by competitors during a two-hour window, and then it's off to the races. The race 'departs' at Alleenbrücke on Neckar Island, typically taking 45 minutes for the first duck to cross the finish line. Not surprisingly, the yellow swell of duckies advancing down the river attracts thousands of race spectators.
The finish is something like a game of Poohsticks with people cheering on the duck corresponding to the number clutched in their hand. The lucky person holding the winning number receives a holiday voucher valued at €1,000 and fast floating runners-up also score some great prizes.
Stag Imitation Competition
Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia
When does Jagd und Hund happen? February
Based on centuries-old hunting traditions, competitors use horns, shells, wooden tubes, hollow antlers, glass bottles or even sea shells to try to imitate the sound of a deer.
The Stag Imitation Competition takes place each year at Jagd und Hund, Europe's largest hunting exhibition.
The event is open to men and women of all ages and has variations such as “spring mating calls” or “calling the young deer”. Judges are quick to point out that they can differentiate the sounds of old deer versus a young one, and competitors should make the calls age-specific.
Finger Wrestling Championship (Fingerhakeln)
When do the Finger Wrestling Championships happen? August
Location: Garmisch-Partenkirchen (89 km southeast of Munich) - southern Germany
Finger wrestling is serious business and contestants arrive prepared for a fight.
Competitors are divided into classes depending on their age and weight. Winners are crowned the German, Bavarian or International champion – international meaning that Austrians were also allowed to participate.
The concept is simple; competitors hook a single finger on a loop of leather and attempt to pull their competitor over the table at which they are seated. A spotter is used for each contestant to limit injuries and a judge stands nearby to keep the loser from slamming too hard into the winner as he’s forcefully pulled over the table.
Brot und Spiele
Location: Trier - western Germany - near the Luxembourg border
The oldest city in the country plays host to some serious gladiator games during Brot und Spiele. Translating to 'Bread and Games', the name is a nod to panem et circenses, the Roman notion that the civilian public could be pacified with bread (food) and circuses (grand spectacles).
Trier's Brot und Spiele Festival takes places in two city locations. Performances and fights are held in the amphitheatre, a well-preserved bit of Roman architecture, creating the perfect mix of ancient venue and modern mischief. Meanwhile, The Imperial Baths are set up as a living exhibit, complete with costumed actors, depicting everyday Trier life during its Roman history.
Festival goers can attend gladiator schools, sample traditional cuisine, try their hand at blacksmithing and view implements of daily life.
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