Published on July 24th, 2012 | by Adrian Simpson0
The Mostar Bridge Jumping Festival!
On New Year’s Day a few years ago, I was in the tiny village of Llanthony in the rural Welsh borderlands. Having just emerged from an all-night barn rave-up type affair, my immediate priorities were the acquisition of bacon and procurement of a fluffy duvet where I could spend the rest of the day listening to my ears ring.
Image courtesy of the BBC
This wasn’t to be, I soon discovered that the general consensus among my companions was to head down to the river, where the local populace, including such pillars of the community as the vicar, the farmer and the pub landlord, were congregating to view daring youthful types strip off and fling themselves from the bridge into the perilous waters. Noting the 10 below freezing conditions, my first reaction was panic, but this was obviously a well observed local tradition and who was I to argue? Turns out if there is a better hangover cure than bacon, its fending off unexpected hypothermia.
Indeed, find any community which centres around a body of water and chances are there’ll be some sort of local tradition which involves auspicious folk hurling themselves into it. That’s just what people are like. A village gathering around the river Honddu is one thing though, Mostar Bridge Jumping Festival is quite another.
On the last weekend in July, 10,000 people will descend on the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina to witness the 446th annual Mostar bridge jumping festival. The Old Bridge (Stari Most) is an imposing sight in the city. It couldn’t have been long after the impressive 20 metre arch was completed in C16th that some bright spark Ottoman decided to launch himself off of it and into the Neretva river below, but not even that pioneering soul could have guessed things would reach this fever pitch. So much so in fact, Red Bull host a Diving tournament on the Bridge
As bonkers as it undoubtedly is, the competition is taken seriously with points being awarded for style, form and splash (the less the better). If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to do more than observe the craziness; Fear not, those who wish to jump, your time will come. You’ll have to prove yourself a bit first, there are some lower platforms to tumble from until you get the hang of it and you won’t be allowed to take the high dive until your mentors are satisfied – you might’ve swallow-dived into every freezing river in Britain but these guys don’t know that.
Image courtesy of The Guardian
If cascading from precarious heights isn’t really your thing, you’ll have great fun just taking in the ludicrous spectacle, especially after dark when hundreds line the bridge with coloured flares before extinguishing their flaming beacons with a headlong dive into the water.