Vinotok: Crested Butte, COlorado, September 20-21Based on a smattering of Viking traditions and entirely fabricated, full-contact drinking rituals, Crested Butte's Vinotok festival is hands-down the best pagan ritual we know of. Saturday's activities commence at dusk with an event inexplicably dubbed "Mumming," during which CB residents parade through town dressed in medieval garb, pausing at restaurants to sing cheers and slam shots. Then there's the "Passion Play," an elaborate act in which the Green Man-representing the most virile guy in town-beheads the Great Grump, a 20-foot-tall effigy on wheels symbolizing last year's gripes. The play doesn't always go as planned. "I missed part of the thing," says one-time Green Man Alan Bernholtz, "because I was too busy being fondled." Finally, the Grump-along with splintered skis-is burned in a massive bonfire. Then people disrobe and rage late into the night.
The Insanity Rave:
Wanaka, New Zealand, September 6
With 10 DJs and 1,000 uninhibited Kiwis, this annual dance party doesn't stop throbbing till daybreak. It's worth the trip: Treble Cone, a half-hour away, has 2,000 feet of vertical and more advanced terrain than any major resort in New Zealand.
Santa Fe, New Mexico, September 4
The burning of Zozobra, an 80-foot puppet symbolizing the year's regrets, is, well, the second best pagan ritual we know of. Grab some tequila and join thousands of frenzied New Mexicans screaming, "Burn him, Bur-r-r-n him!" at the base of the road to Santa Fe Ski Basin.
Lame Excuse Aspen, December '02: After allegedly flashing his little skiing clown at a woman on Chair 3, bartender Lucas Ross, 28, exclaimed, "I guess I forgot to zip up." Right. He was charged with a misdemeanor.
BIG BOOTY Quebec, November '02: An entire tractor-trailer truck full of Nordica skis, boots, and bindings was stolen from a company warehouse. The perpetrators are still at large. (Log onto skiingmag.com for smoking deals on last year's Nordica equipment. Kidding.)
Deranged Peanut Artist Jackson Hole, May '03: Graffiti depicting a peanut wearing headphones and holding a cocktail begins to appear on walls around town. No suspects have been identified, and, no, we don't have the slightest idea what it means.