Warning: as the title would suggest, some of the pictures in this article show mild nudity and may not be safe for work.
You really are a sane and normal human being. You go to work, you love your mother, you play with your dog – and you do all of these, unless you’re a bit strange, with clothes on.
But sometimes you think, wouldn’t it be nicer to be naked? To feel the sun and air unfiltered through the shackles of fabric, to celebrate the fact that you are a living, breathing, dying, animal without shame, without being controlled by societal rules, without the hot rush of embarrassment that invades you if you so much as get caught with your fly open?
Ever felt the need to strip it all off and run naked and screaming through the streets without being chased by the police? Well, here are eight potential solutions for you.
The Running of the Nudes – Pamplona, Spain
Every year on July 4, during the nine-day festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain (and two days prior to the infamous Running of the Bulls) a herd of PETA activists, often splashed with red paint and wearing nothing but plastic horns, unleash a stampede of naked people, who charge from the Santo Domingo corrals to the Plaza de Toros – the same route taken by the bulls two days later.
The event, which protests the cruelty of bullfighting, began in 2002 when 25 animal rights activists ran naked through Pamplona to promote a less violent and much sexier alternative to the infamous blood sport. Local residents, initially alarmed by the naked hooligans, have since softened towards the slightly awkward alteration to traditional festivities, as the newcomers (those who would normally never dream of attending such a festival) are now adding an extra economic boost for the townspeople.
Animal welfare groups across North America and Europe have encouraged the event and will assist participant runners with transportation and accommodation costs. For more information, visit their website.
The Oblation Run – Philippines
Sometimes referred to as the “Ritual Dance of the Brave,” the Oblation Run is an annual event organized by a few Filipino chapters of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity in universities throughout the Philippines. It involves a group of young men (although recently a number of unidentified women have joined the parade) who run naked around campus handing roses to female spectators.
According to the APO website, the event, which takes its name from a statue of a nude man located on every University of Philippines’ campus, began in 1977 when an anonymous APO member ran naked across campus university to promote a play called Hubad na Bayani (Tagalog for Naked Hero). The provocative promotion was such a hit that APO decided to stage the event annually, every December 16, the date APO was founded.
Although Philippine senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and others have criticized the ceremony as a “blatant display of male genitals” and a “wanton disregard of the rules of decent society,” the ritual has nevertheless been used as a forum to protest contemporary national issues. For more information check out the oblation run website.
Hadaka Matsuri – Japan
Hadaka Matsuris, or “naked festivals,” are held in many cities throughout Japan, but the most famous one occurs in Okayama, where the festival originated. On the third Saturday of every February, thousands of participants, pretty much all men, gather at the Saidai-ji Temple in Saidaiji-naka either completely naked or wearing loincloths. The men, who are packed so tightly together they must constantly struggle to keep upright to avoid the very real danger of being trampled, then proceed to get wasted on sake.
Once they’re good and drunk a priest appears in the window of the temple and casts a pair of lucky sacred sticks into the crowd. The mob struggles fiercely for possession of these sticks, for whoever manages to get hold of them and thrust them upright in a particular wooden measuring box, pretty much an impossible task, is blessed with a year of happiness.
Normally more than 9000 men participate in this festival, whose origin is said to extend back 500 years, when worshipers competed to receive paper talismans handed out by priests that were said to bring good luck. The reason participants must be naked is shrouded in mystery, but some sources say it originates in the traditional belief that a naked man had the power to take on the ills of a community, and then leave into the wilderness with them.
>> Read our Japan travel guide
World Bodypainting festival – Seeboden, Austria
Created on a whim in 1998 by a travel agent tasked with organizing a new summer event in Seeboden, Austria, the World Bodypainting Festival has since mutated into a major festival, drawing tens of thousands of spectators and bodypaint artists and models from around the world. The venue since been moved to Pörtschach am Wörthersee in the south of Austria to deal with the crowds, and now occurs annually during at the end of June.
The festival lasts for a week, the first four days of which are filled with bodypainting and various other artistic workshops. It is only during the last three days that the actual festival takes place in “Bodypaint City,” which is open to the public and packed full of concerts and parties and attractions such as the “Body Circus” of the “Surreal Ballroom.”
The World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) – Worldwide
In 2003, after some experience organizing naked bike rides for various artists and peace activists wanting to protest war with nudity, a social activist living in Vancouver named Conrad Schmidt conceived of an idea so powerful that it would subsequently change the way people view bicycle seats: The World Naked Bike Ride.
The initial message of the WNBR was to protest against oil dependency and celebrate the power and individuality of the human body, but there has, in recent years, been a shift in focus towards plain and simple cycling advocacy.
The basic idea, according to their website, is “to put a stop to the indecent exposure of people and the planet to cars and the pollution they create.” The ‘indecent exposure’ is where the nakedness comes in. Plus, frankly, public nudity is not only fun, it attracts a lot of attention.
Although the event has attracted participants from social nudity circles, the organizers try to focus on the cycling message and insist that people aren’t required to be fully naked if they don’t want to.
The WNBR takes place in a number of cities throughout the world. Most events in the southern hemisphere take place in mid-March, while most northern hemisphere rides take place the second Saturday in June. Check the website for more info.
>> Read about cycling in Europe
Burning Man – Black Rock City, Nevada
If you haven’t already heard of Burning Man then you might not be the sort of fellow who would want to participate. The week-long event is held every year in the Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada, beginning the Monday before, and ending on, the American Labor Day holiday.
It all began on the summer solstice 1986 when Larry Harvey, Jerry James and about 18 friends spontaneously set fire to a nine-foot wooden man on Baker Beach in San Francisco. They decided to make it an annual event and during the next few years participants grew exponentially. Eventually the celebrations were moved to the Black Rock Desert. In 2010 more than 50,000 people participated.
The 10 principles that govern the culture of the event are: radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy. If you’re not hip enough to grasp these concepts right now don’t worry – it’s the “radical self-expression” one that has made public nudity common throughout this clothing-optional festival.
In recent years Burning Man has become so popular that those wishing to attend must purchase tickets in advance, running at around $300USD, which can be purchased on the website.
>> Look for Burning Man travel deals
Roskilde – Denmark
The Roskilde Festival, held over four days near the town of Roskilde, Denmark, is the largest culture and music festival in Northern Europe, with usually over 180 bands and more than 100,000 spectators.
Begun in 1971 by two high school students and originally popular with hippies, the festival has since expanded into the mainstream European youth market and still managed to maintain a bit of that free love vibe, evident in its clothing-optional policy and yearly nude race, held since 1998. The race, open to both sexes, is organized by Roskilde Festival radio and involves a run around the 80 hectare campsite, which is usually full of inebriated concert-goers who cheers the runner on. A prize of free tickets to next year’s festival goes to both the male and female winner.
The festival is held every year at the end of June. Tickets, available on the website, cost around 230 euro.
Fremont Solstice Parade – Seattle, Washington
The Fremont Solstice Parade, known for its wild procession of floats and naked people, takes place every year in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, Washington on the closest Saturday to the actual summer solstice. Begun in 1989 by Barbara Luecke and Peter Toms, the parade kicks off the Fremont fair and usually attracts tens of thousands of spectators, many of them curious to get a peek at the Painted Naked Cyclists of the Solstice Parade, a non-political, artistic, clothing-optional bike ride that has unofficially started the parade since 1992.
Nudity is popular but not mandatory and anyone with a human powered transportation device with at least one wheel is allowed to participate. With that said – streakers are, of course, still welcome. Visit the website for more info.
Read more about festivals around the world:
- The World’s Messiest Festivals
- 13 of the Best Outdoor Summer Festivals
- 7 Great Beer and Wine Festivals
- 7 Wild and Wacky Festivals Around the World