Dragonmen, Alien Mermaids, Fantastic Fire Dancers, Barebacked Santas, and even a Painted Labrador Retriever; you can see all these and more at the fantastic body painting festivals now occurring annually around the world.
There is a wide range of body painting festivals today. All include painted bodies, of course, and all include some kind of competitions; however there is a quite a range of skills and size among the different festivals, and some are more 'family friendly' than others.
Here's a quick look at the top 6 body painting festivals, where they happen and what you can expect to find there:
1. The World Body Painting Festival
This festival includes some of the most stunning professional body painting to be seen in the world today. A 3 day program includes dance, music and fireworks displays, as well as many competitions. Many of the body paintings here should fall under the category of 'fine art' with some of the dancers body paintings simply defying belief. A very large event and certainly worth traveling for.
Where: Seeboden, Austria
Duration: Three days
Events Include: World Championships in 3 categories; night contest for UV effects, Special Effects awards; classes and workshops; BodyCircus (fantasy ball); music and dance performances; an international photo contest; and a huge fireworks show.
Artistic Range: One of the very best, with stunning range of styles and surprising themes.
Family Friendliness: Not clear, but it is in Europe, so not likely to ban under 18. However this body painting festival does not advertise itself as family friendly, as some others do.
2. The Canadian Body Painting Festival
This is another body painting festival that showcases simply stunning artists and finished work. The quality of the art here is similar to that seen at the World Body Painting Festival. The Festival is themed from year to year, with the recent theme being "It's A Jungle Out There." Also includes the Canadian Body Painting Championships.
Where: Nanaimo, British Columbia
Duration: Two days
Events Include: Competitions in overall body painting, brush and sponge, and airbrush; includes the Canadian body painting Championships
Artistic Range: Most stunning, and one of the best overall. Very life-like and fantastic double-take images.
Family Friendliness: Not stated - would be worth making a call first.
3. The International Body Painting Festival
This festival takes place in Mainz, a city with over two thousand years of history. It is located on the river Rhine, has strong Celtic roots and may have been founded by the Romans as early as 13 BC. One can imagine that body painting has a long history here, if you remember the Celtic tradition of painting their bodies before going into battle. Once again, the artistic ability and range is stunning at this International festival.
Where: Mainz, Germany
Duration: Weekend festival
Events Include: Competitions include special effects and face painting
Artistic Range: Very stunning; high artistic skill.
Family Friendliness: Not known but again, it's in Europe. I would call ahead.
4. Welsh International Body Painting Festival
This festival is a bit younger and less established than the top 3, although it has some impressive artwork considering that they are just getting started. Also the atmosphere is more 'fun' orinted, less 'high art' and family participation is strongly encouraged. A good festival to consider if you want to make it a family outing and see some amazing work in the process.
Where: Wales (of course)
Duration: Two days
Events Include: Hands on demonstrations; horror specialists and flower specialists
Artistic Range: High, and impressive for a smaller sized event; not as subtle or creative as some of the others
Family Friendliness: Very good; in fact they encourage families and camping, with an 'all ages' atmosphere and events designed for younger participants
5. The UK Body Painting Festival
This festival showcases some of the least impressive - although most amusing - body painting, although it should be said that it is not presented as a stuffy 'high art' affair, but more a circus or county fair type outing for the entire family. Fun, relaxed and un-selfconscious atmosphere allows for some of the more surprising and purely 'fun' body art to be seen. If you're not a supermodel and would like to get your body painted without worrying about snide comments, this might be a good option for you.
Where: Ashford, UK
Duration: Two days
Events Include: Family-oriented face painting, body painting competitions for professional and amateur categories, craft fair, children's activities, workshops, and a 'bouncy castle.'
Artistic Range: Fair; more of a family outing with a lots to do than a showcase of spectacular art.
Family Friendliness: Very high; advertised as family event. Lowest cost of all the body painting festivals - comparable to a movie ticket.
6. The US Bodypainting Festival (or New Mexico Body Painting Festival/US Bodypainting Competition)
There is definitely some impressive body painting to be seen at this festival, and a lot of creative innovation with hair and unusual designs that you won't see anywhere else. One example that springs to mind is a model dressed in racecar theme with red, white and blue hair sprayed out behind her as though flying in the wind. Also, if you're in the US this festival obviously doesn't require a plane ticket. However this is not a family outing, as it explicitly bans anyone under 18.
Where: Alberquerque, New Mexico
Duration: Three days
Events Include: Demonstrations, workshops, competitions in body painting
Artistic Range: Good to poor - there is a mix of very impressive artistic works and things better left unpainted here; although it's all 'interesting.'
Family Friendliness: Not at all. We are in the US remember; no one under 18 allowed.
So that's my brief overview of the top 6 body painting festivals in the world. Would you like to take a vacation this year that's not your ordinary 'hum-drum' trip? Pick one of these festivals and you can pack light (you know, you could just bring a can of paint and a paintbrush for evening wear)!