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As we closed the curtain on 2006, many of us were busy making big plans for the future — New Year’s resolutions to get healthy, find a new job, spend less and play more. Some of us travel junkies have been drafting this year’s travel schedule. Here’s a list of unique or weird events to keep in mind:
Thaipusam Festival, Malaysia
On Feb. 1, Hindu devotees take to the streets for a full day of drumming, celebration and masochism. To prove their faith, some devotees pierce their tongues, skewer skin and dangle metal hooks from their bodies. For a graphic video of the Thaipusam experience visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruYz6vIp-Qc.
Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, New Zealand
If you’re hungry for cicadas, slugs, sheep eyes or bulls’ penises, pencil March 10 on your calendar. On the west coast of New Zealand, the town of Hokitika draws more than 20,000 Kiwis with a curiosity for creepy crawly cuisine. See www.westlanddc.govt.nz/wildfoods/foodfest.
If you’re looking for a killer water fight, Thailand has the world’s largest, no holds-barred water brawl. For the Thai New Year (April 12-15) locals spend days drenching each other with freezing cold water. Part ritualistic cleansing, part water-gun frenzy, Songkran is awesome fun. (Check for updates on travel warnings regarding Thailand at www.voyage.gc.ca.)
Kirkpinar Oiled Wrestling Festival, Turkey
From June 20-27, one of the oldest festivals in the world takes place in Edirne, Turkey. The concept is simple: macho men, slathered in oil, wrestling. See www.kirkpinar.com.
Running Of The Nudes, Spain
Activists, animal-lovers and exhibitionists unite. The Running Of The Nudes, an event held July 5 in Pamplona, has people running stark-naked through the streets, protesting the annual Running Of The Bulls. In addition to exposing themselves, nudie participants are also exposing animal cruelty. Visit www.runningofthenudes.com.
World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Britain
On Aug. 27, people from all over Britain will head to the tiny town of Llanwrtyd Wells to put on their masks, snorkels and fins. They’ll hop into stinky bog water, wade through the peat-filled goo and vie for the title of bog snorkeling champion. Visit http://llanwrtydwells.powys.org.uk/bog.html.
Burning Man, Nevada
The hugely popular Burning Man, held Aug. 31-Sept. 3 in Black Rock Desert, promises art installations, performance art, themed camps, freak show creativity and a burning effigy. It’s been described as a "cross between a carnival and Mad Max." See www.burningman.com.
World Beard Championship, Germany
Held every two years, the World Beard and Moustache Championship in Berlin pays homage to those scratchy flavour- savours. Participants come from all over the world to show off their facial hair and compete for bragging rights; http://worldbeardchampionships.com.