Week One of the 2014 OSW Awards

Written by Grant Mills on . Posted in Art, European Bazaar, Festivals, Media, Photography, Travel


Winner announced: Wednesday 5th Nov 2014

Scratch Europe’s distinguished surface and underneath you’re likely to find a sequined spandex jumpsuit. For all its pomposity, ceremony and history Europe is a vast petri dish of cultures, each bubbling with their own subversive predilections.

As the European Bazaar project has shown, Western Europe’s penchant for strange and wonderful festivals spans the whole gambit from the cute and cuddly to the borderline insane.

Over the next week I’ll be announcing the three finalists in the category for Europe’s


Each of these nominees is bewildering in their existence, either for the scale of the madness that they release on humanity and/or for the incredulous ‘What/Why/How’ reaction that they provoke.

These are the festivals that defy explanation, that tell us just how ridiculous we can be when we try hard enough and that give logic a wedgie it will never forget.

The nominees will be listed in no particular order, with the winner announced on the morning of Wednesday 5th November.

And finally, our THIRD and final nominee for the Week One category of Europe’s Most Outrageous Festival is….

Es Firo-14

Mallorca’s Es Firó

For the extended blog post see:
“BYO Shotgun (Part 1) : A Little Patch of Paradise”  and
“BYO Shotgun (Part 2) : Hide Your Hats, The Pirates Are Coming!”

Experiencing the pirate invasion festival of Es Firó is as close as you will ever get to being on the receiving end of an actual, golden-age-of-piracy looting and sacking.

Es Firo-16

There are hangings, explosions and an astonishing number of real shotguns firing blanks into the air. The running battle between the native ‘Christians’ and the invading black-faced ‘Moors’ is proudly dismissive of the political correctness that has permeated every other Western European country, except the amazingly resilient Spanish.

This adds to the feeling that Es Firó is still a part of the frontier, it’s off the map and undiscovered. Despite the considerable safety checks that I’m assured are in place, Es Firó feels raw and risky.

Even so, the sensible part of you knows that this havoc cannot last, that as the festival becomes more of a tourist beacon the inevitable complaints and public security concerns will swiftly rob the event of its spontaneous energy.

There is also a creeping suspicion that even with its dangerous antics, guns and strange human-fruit hanging from the trees, that what we’re seeing must be, in part, a sanitised version. What must this festival have been like a hundred years ago?

It’s a giddying thought.

See the original blog post of the event!

Who Will Win? Let us know your thoughts via Facebook or Twitter. And we’ll find out on Wednesday!

Our SECOND finalist in the category of EUROPE’S MOST OUTRAGEOUS FESTIVAL is…….


Wales’ World Bog Snorkelling Championships

For the complete run down of the festival check out:
“A Head Full of Dreams and a Mouth Full of Bog Water”

Bog Snorkelling says something fundamental about the underlying psychology of our species. In the same breath you could easily talk about those people that enjoy taking Arctic dips or the masochists that suspend themselves from hooks for kicks.

WAG-9In the case of bog snorkelling it’s veritable proof of some switch in our brains that is flicked the moment you turn something – that you would otherwise never do – into a competition. People will then turn up in the hundreds to be the best at nettle eating, shin kicking or, indeed, doggy paddling through a freezing Welsh swamp inhabited by leeches and water scorpions.

And don’t forget the Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, which involves donning a weight belt and a backpack filled with lead, mounting a bike also augmented with lead plates and its tires filled with water, and attempting to ride an underwater time-trial, while keeping your mask and snorkel free of murky brown water.

Bog Snorkelling, in all its forms, could best be described as a frantic, spluttering interplay between our need for air and our desire to win.

See the original blog post at One Small World!

The FIRST finalist in the category of EUROPE’S MOST OUTRAGEOUS FESTIVAL is……..

Las Fallas blog-2


Valencia’s Las Fallas

For an in depth taste of the festival see the original blog post:
“How not to be Blown Up, Deafened or Buried by Flaming Rubble at Spain’s Las Fallas”

Las Fallas blog-4Las Fallas is a hard festival to quantify. It is enormous, it is loud and it is in-your-face.

It is also is the ultimate dichotomy. On one hand it is absolute chaos, with firecrackers going off around the clock, big bands roaming the streets, early morning fireworks, and a finale that most pyromaniacs would consider excessive.

Yet even so, the festival runs to a strict order, the female falleras are exquisitely dressed, events start when they are scheduled when nothing else in Spain can be expected to be punctual and people adhere to painstaking traditions that they no longer have any connection to.

Yet aside from the craziness that is literally happening in every corner of the city (and that lasts a whole month!), what is perhaps most outrageous about the festival is fundamental.

Every year the Valencian government hand out millions of Euros, desperate to trump previous Las Fallas. Yet the city is bordering on bankruptcy.

Funding cuts have become so deep that, as one newspaper reports “(l)ocal students have staged demonstrations at education cuts that mean they are forced to bring their own lavatory paper and soap to school”.

One person that OSW spoke to was a teacher at the local university and she said that the only reason the Valencian government escaped a declaration of bankruptcy was because private corporations such as Spanish department store giant, El Corte Ingles, has stepped in to pay public servants so that the government could continue to function.

So over the course of Las Fallas’ month-long celebrations, the Valencians essentially revel in watching their tax dollars go magnificently up in smoke while the city’s government negotiates a $20bn bailout from the central Spanish government.

Las Fallas is the Spanish love of a party taken to its illogical extreme. And for that it is our first nominee for EUROPE’S MOST OUTRAGEOUS FESTIVAL!

For more on Las Fallas see One Small World’s blog post.

Agree? Disagree? Then jump on Facebook or Twitter and let One Small World know!


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Comments (8)

  • Blaster (@Blasterig)


    It´s normal that you didn’t understand nothing of the Firó, your culture is not mediterranean so is difficult to understand our way of life. All the gunshots ( shooting blanks) are made by controled participants by the police and there are a lot of warning advises, evidently is not a royal ball. Never have been treated like a touristic attraction.


  • Macià


    Hola, por lo que veo no tienen ustedes tradición festera alguna, supongo que son de los que se divierten tomando un té a las cinco con el dedo meñique levantado, Que pena tener que criticar a los demás para darse a conocer


  • L'amo Andreu


    BUeno, si un comentari: VAJA UNA TONTERIA DE COMPARATIVA!!!!! , Porque no veis las “gilipolleces” que hacen vuestros compatriotas en Magalluf o el Arenal … TONTOOOOOS …


  • pere


    You have to come to the firo! Don’t be affraid! we have a very “blood-hungry pet” called pau pinyol, who wants to meet you.
    Do you know what a rompevigas is??


  • NJasper


    Have you ever heard abou Historical recreations? Do you think that moors in the XVI’st Century thought about political correctness? Please, do not get where it does not belong you. If you don’t like it, don’t come, but leave us and our traditions alone, thanks.


  • Fred Price


    your ill informed article is a veiled attempt to bring about the very ‘political correctness’ that you infer will erode this event. it is safely controlled, far less hazardous than many bonfire night parties, noone is offended – least of all Black people, many of which participate – and is a faithful reenactment of the invasions by the barbary pirates. Why don’t you focus on the sickeningly drunken “festivals” held by semi naked, vomiting Brits in other Spanish resorts ?


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