Part II: Europe’s more alternative sporting events

With it being almost a year since we published part one of Europe’s more alternative sporting events, we thought it was high time to get into gear and write part two!  After drawing your attention to some of Europe’s greatest spectacles, Calcio Storico, Palio di Siena and La Regate des Baignores, all of which are in great interrailing locations, we take a look at even more of the weird and wonderful sports you can witness (and partake in) on the continent!

Finland World Wife Carrying Championships

We start in Sonkajärvi, Finland with the annual wife carrying competition, held since 1993. Forty couples from seven countries – including Japan, Russia and the USA – take part. Contestants have to navigate a 250m obstacle course with their “wife” on their back. I say “wife” because there are minimum weight requirements: your wife needs to weigh at least 7st 10lbs (49kg). So, if your wife is under that threshold she’ll need to strap on weights, or you will need to find a substitute! The quickest couple to complete the assault course wins. And the prize is supposedly the weight of your “wife” in beer.

Chessboxing

Yes – it is exactly what it sounds like. A true hybrid sport. Chessboxing combines brains with brawn, as competitors play chess and then box in alternating rounds. Most events organised by the World Chess Boxing Organisation are held in Berlin. You need to be skilled at both sports to compete well. Players win by achieving a check mate or receiving a withdrawal from the chess game. Alternatively, by knock out in boxing or winning on points. Boxing trumps scoring in chess, so the winner on points in the boxing is usually victorious.

Bossaball

Bossaball started in Spain in 2005. It’s a ball game where two teams play against each other and combines elements of volleyball, football and gymnastics with music. It’s played on a custom inflatable court with a trampoline on either side of the net. It’s becoming very popular, being played not only in Europe, but worldwide too. And with beginner-friendly rules, like being allowed to double-touch the ball and play with any part of your body, it’s obvious to see why the sport has become more mainstream. Combine all this with sun, sea, beach and great music and what’s not to like?!

Batalla del Vino

The Wine Fight takes place in Haro, northern Spain. Haro is a picturesque town in the Rioja region, famous for its wine. Close to 40% of the Rioja vineyards are located in Haro, so the town is dedicated to producing the best Rioja wine. Every year, on 29th June, the locals celebrate San Pedro with their own Haro Wine Festival. It has become one of the best visited festivals in Spain thanks to the Wine Fight, which takes place during the festival. For the wine fight itself, contestants wear white t-shirts and red scarves. They are then split into two teams and arm up with their weapons: buckets, super soakers, wineskin, sprayers and just about anything that can be used to throw, spray or launch thousands of litres of wine all over the crowd!

So, that’s the end of part two of the most unusual sporting events in Europe! Do you know of any others? Let us know. If you’ve taken part in any of these events or any other unusual sports around Europe, we want to hear from you. If you haven’t been to any, hopefully we’ve inspired you to perhaps include one of these events in your Interrail route!

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