Sometimes the best marketing ideas take on a life of their own. Seeking to publicize the skin-care benefits of grooming products made with local mineral-rich mud, the South Korean city of Boryeong staged a small "mud festival" in 1998. Eight years later, the annual Boryeong Mud Festival, mudfestival.or.kr
, sees a staggering 1.5 million visitors flock to the normally sleepy seaside destination for a week of gooey fun. Located 200 km (or about a two-hour bus ride) from Seoul, on the country's west coast, Boryeong is home to the soft and seemingly endless Daecheon Beach. From July 15-21, a section of this impressive, 13-km-long tidal flat will be the location of Mud Experience Land, the festival's heart—and despite all the talk of skin benefits, it's clear that most revelers are simply here to make a mess of themselves. There'll be wrestling, sliding, massages, and photo contests, all taking place in mud dug up near Boryeong and moved to the beach. Look out for opening- and closing-night fireworks, as well as parades and cultural performances during the week.
There's no need to fret about getting the mud out of your hair, either: showers at minimal cost are abundant, as are lockers that can be used to store a fresh set of clothes. Finally, after you've wallowed and lolled in Boryeong's thick gray ooze, you can pick up some of the locally made products—from mudpacks and mud shampoo to mud soap and mud sunblock. Or had you forgotten that these toiletries were your excuse for coming in the first place?