Watching famed American artist Spencer Tunick photograph naked people painted from head to toe in red and gold in Munich certainly challenged one's view of nudity and privacy. He was invited by the Bavarian State Opera to open the 2012 Munich Opera Festival with his interpretation of Richard Wagner opera "Der Ring des Nibelungen. The art installation entitled "The Ring" brought 1,700 volunteers together to pose nude at several venues in downtown Munich. With so many people comfortable in their skin, marching to the orders of Tunick, you have to wonder about the growing popularity of public nudity.
In Vienna, where skinny dipping in stretches of the Danube is a daily activity for thousands of men, women and children, its famous Leopold museum hosted a naked museum viewing of the "Nude Men from 1800 to Today" exhibition with 300 paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures focused on the bare male. Apart from the reporters and camera teams, the exhibition drew over 100,000 visitors who found it interesting to stroll through a museum naked.
The lack of clothing and nudity is also readily accepted when seen to support a social context such as contesting animal rights and getting naked to protest fur with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Whether you're interested in going bare for art, a cause or self indulgence, here are 12 of the world's top naked festivals and events to get you comfy with and in the skin.
Note to Reader: The article sections contain photographs depicting naked people and events. If you find nudity offensive, you may prefer reading about ways to look younger and living Longer.
Japan is home to several naked festivals in the summer or winter and the most famous is undoubtedly the Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri held on the 3rd Saturday of February at Saidai-ji Temple in Okayama, where the festival originated. In an age-old rite that date back 500 years, over 9,000 men and boys in nothing but white loincloths or "fundoshi" and drenched in water and sweat, run to a shrine and struggle with each other for a pair of sacred sticks or "ofuda" and bundles of willow strips.
The sacred sticks are thrown into the throng by a priest precisely at midnight, triggering a rugby game where everyone rushes to grab the sticks in the hope of luck and happiness in the year ahead. If you can't run bare with the guys, there are always seats available for purchase by spectators to experience all the thrills and excitement of the festival. For more information, contact the Okayama Prefecture.
Forget about the view of the ocean or the mountains from your window or roof terrace in Pamplona. The best views come in the form of thousands of people chased bulls or hundreds of naked people running past your building. I'm pretty sure the latter is gaining more popularity with visitors.
Photo from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation
Held annually in Pamplona, the Running of the Nudes occurs 2 days prior to the start of the 9-day festival of San Fermin and the world-famous Running of the Bulls. The event was established in 2002 as a protest to the Running of the Bulls as the bulls in this "encierro" or run would be killed in the bullring later that same evening.
Today some 1,000 activists and curious participants wearing only plastic horns, red scarves and the optional undies support the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) by moving naked through the streets of Pamplona and forming installations of bodies to draw global attention to the realities of bulls at the Sanfermines festival and as a reminder that the city should not torture animals for tourism dollars. Whether you desire to view the nudes or de-robe in public in Pamplona, you can support PETA's cause by checking out their website.
A summer event created in 1998 by Alex Barendregt as a direct result of a body painting photo is now in its 15th year, drawing some 30,000 participants interested in the painted naked body. Originally held in Seebodenm the event moved to Poertschach in south-central Austria.
With the world championship title up for grabs each year, more than 200 artists from 44 countries gather at the annual World Bodypainting Festival (WBF) to show off their creations on bare skin, competing in different categories including brush and sponge, airbrush and special effects. The festival provides an annual opportunity to model or enjoy the human canvass at its painted best.
The 2013 edition held between 1-7 July promises more bodypainting workshops and classes, music performances and fashion shows alongside the competition. To find out more, visit the WBF website.
The increasing popularity of this January event in Australia has resulted in a letter to the organisers from the Australian Olympic Committee prohibiting them from using "Olympics" in the title. While the past organiser of over 20 years, Southern United Naturists and current organiser Pilwarren rethink a suitable name going forward, the Maslin Beach Nude Olympics in southern coastal suburb of Adelaide continues to engage naturalist and nudist in a day of sports and fun.
The uncovering of the Maslin Beach Nude Olympics dates back to 1983 when the games celebrated the town's status as first official nude beach in Australia. Today some 500 nude participants of all ages, shapes and sizes compete in events including a sack race, three-legged race, tug of war, frisbee throwing and best bum competition. Due to lack of sponsorship and volunteers, the event had been absent for some years. If you're into nude sports, contact Pilwarren to make a difference to next year's games.
Arles, France: Festival Européen de la Photo de Nu
Pierre-Yves Le Strat's YOU-CUBE / Photo from FEPN
For over a decade, Arles has hosted the "Festival Européen de la Photo de Nu" (FEPN) or European Festival of Nude Photography, a festival of exhibitions, projections and workshops devoted to the human body. It is also the largest French and European event dedicated to nude photographs.
Over the years, works from renowned photographers like Jean-François Bauret , Paul Eden, Georges Tourdjman, Uwe Ommer and Marc Wolff have contributed to raising the popularity of this event.
The theme of the FEPN 2013 will be "Views of the Body" and highlights include photographs of naked body paintings on Ethopia's Surma tribe by Hans Sylvester, a flamboyant tribute to Andy Warhol by Marie Piselli, promotional calendars of "Shanghai Girls" by Patrick Willocq, photographic interpretations of the Genesis by Malou Moreau, and nude portrait workshop by John Turco. In its 13th year, the 2013 edition will be held from 8 to 20 May. For more information, visit the FEPN website.
A San Francisco tradition for more than 100 years, Bay To Breakers is one of the world's largest and oldest footraces. Founded in 1912, it gathers some 70,000 world-class athletes, runners, walkers and outrageously costumed participants from around the globe annually to challenge the 7.46 miles course from Bay (Howard/Beale) to Breakers (the western end of Golden Gate Park).
Originally organised to lift civic morale in San Francisco after a devastating earthquake rocked the city in 1912, Bay to Breakers is today a festival of costumes, a celebration of the human spirit and a 'living' testament to San Francisco's uniqueness and audacity with plenty of house parties and lots of skin along the route.
If you're planning to join the race, be prepared for a giant wave of athleticism, fun, frivolity, ridiculous costumes, public nudity and beautiful San Francisco views across the City from the Bay to the Pacific ocean. To join the run, visit the Bay to Breaker website.
Not to be confused with the 400-pound boob that Geoff Wilson is
dragging across Antarctica to raise money and awareness for breast cancer, this sledding competition in in the eastern German resort of Altenberg is a topless parody of a popular winter sport. Organised by cult radio station R.SA, this annual event on 23 February brought together 13 men and 12 women wearing nothing but helmets, undies and boots to compete for a €1,000 cash prize and the title of "Nacktrodelmeister" or naked sledding champion.
Despite the heavy snow and freezing temperatures, some 5,000 visitors showed up to cheer on the contestants. With plenty of bare body contact with snow in a naked dash for glory, R.SA's Naked Snow Sledding Championship is surely a must-attend event for nudism and tobogganing fans. For more pictures and video of the event, check out the R.SA website.
San Francisco, USA: Perry Mann's Exotic Erotic Ball & Expo
San Francisco is the capital for a fun-filled celebration of human sexuality and freedom of expression that's part Mardi Gras, burlesque and rock concert entitled Perry Mann's Exotic Erotic Ball & Expo. It isn't your conventional nudist event but for those who like to dress up, dress down or get naked with some body paint. As the longest-running public adult-themed event in the world, it draws many attendees looking for a party with wildly elaborate, creative, and sexy costumes and where pretty much anything goes.
Slated to return to its previous glory on 27 October 2013, the Ball is known for its non-stop entertainment of limitless variety including DJs, live bands, erotic performers, exotic dancers, wild circus sideshows by over 150 performers from US and Europe. There are also playful interactive fun and contests for the crowning of Ms Exotic Erotic, Mr. Exotic Erotic, and Best Costume. The Expo features vendors showcasing the latest in exotic fashion, erotic art, adult products, games and novelties.
It's been over 30 years since Louis Abolafia and Perry Mann founded the Exotic Erotic Ball and its philosophy "Make Love, Not War" continues to draw participants till today. For more information about the Exotic Erotic Ball & Expo, visit the official website.
Philippines: Oblation Run
Photo from Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega Philippines at UP Diliman
A statue of a naked man also known as "Oblation" symbolizing a selfless offering of one's self to the country, located in every University of the Philippines campus is the inspiration behind the Oblation Run. This popular annual naked event is organised and participated by numerous Filipino chapters of the fraternity Alpha Phi Omega (APO) in the different campuses on 16 December.
Also known as the "Ritual Dance of the Brave", this event first appeared in its bare glory at the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1977 to promote a play. Today the naked run consisting of mostly males in masks and supported by flocks of students, serves to raise awareness on contemporary national issues. For more information, visit the Oblation Run website.
Cothing-optional bike rides are cycling events where nudity is expected and permitted. A growing phenomenon around the world, these events are often organised to raise awareness of political, social and environment issues, as an expression of art, a recreational activity or a combination of all.
The most international of all such rides is the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) which has been held in 74 cities including London, Auckland, Sydney, Toronto, Melbourne, San Francisco and many others. It's a series of environmental protests which were triggered mainly in response to the Iraq war and "Oil Dependency". In many locations the protest ride meanders through the city centre handing out leaflets and stopping to drop off petitions at places like oil company headquarters and the American Embassy. In addition to being a clothes-free cycling event on community streets, naked body painted riders are also increasingly common. To join one of these rides, check out the WNBR website.
What started as an annual event by prank collective, Improv Everywhere in New York City (NYC) has gone viral around the world's cities including Amsterdam, Paris, London, Milan, Lisbon, Warsaw, Helsinki, Toronto, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Bangalore, Mexico City, Brisbane and even Istanbul where the riders were arrested. The NYC-based organisation, created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, causes scenes of chaos and joy in public including the subway with their "bottom-less" event by 7 guys in January more than a decade ago.
Now in its 12th year, tens of thousands of passengers board subway trains on the event day clothed in everything else except their pants or skirts. It's not quite your full-monty festival or event compared to the others in this article but the sight of skimpy butts and bare legs continue to create quite a stir. In NYC alone, over 4,000 people participated in the event with an official pant-less party at Bar 13 on 13th Street on the 13th day of 2013. If you're into dropping your bottoms in an international celebration of silliness with some 50 cities around the world, make sure your sign up for the next "No Pants Subway Ride" at the Improv Everywhere website. The 2014 date will be announced in early December.
Spencer Tunick has been documenting naked people in public since 1992 before setting up his first mass photoshoot in 2003 with 500 naked volunteers in Selfridges department store in London. Since then, he has become world famous for his nude photo shoots all around the world including 7,000 naked people in Barcelona, hundreds of women in NYC's Grand Central Terminal and some 18,000 male and female volunteers in Mexico City's Plaza de la Constitución. He has also photographed 1,000 Israelis in the Dead Sea to raise awareness of its diminishing water levels and 600 nudes on the Aletsch Glacier to draw attention to global warming and the shrinking of the world's glaciers in a collaboration with Greenpeace.
The famed New Yorker's installations bring naked individuals together, en masse to metamorphose into a new shape that extends into and upon the landscape. Tunick works solely with volunteers so if you're interested to undress for art, a worthy cause or just being immortalised in one of his famous photographs, sign up on his web site to be notified of his next location shoot.