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International Mud Day

In Nepal, Mud Day marks the beginning of the rice-growing season.

ICG’s International Mud Day Celebration 2023

What is International Mud Day all about?

In 2012, the first International Mud Day Celebration in the Northeast of the US took place at the Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone in Ithaca Children’s Garden!

The festival is all about celebrating the human connection to nature, and breaking through some barriers around what it means to “get dirty.”  International Mud Day generally sees between a few hundred and a thousand visitors each year. Whether curious to dip one’s toe, take a full on mud bath, or hang around the fringes nibbling mud cakes or mud popsicles, all are welcome.


International Mud Day takes place at ICG on the last Saturday in June as a community-wide festival to celebrate all things mudtastic. We’re celebrating International Mud Day 2022 in new ways! Join us at the Garden in 2023!

This year’s event is modified from previous celebrations and is designed with activity stations to keep you safe. Please help us make Mud Day a healthy and safe event for all. Tompkins County’s COVID numbers are currently trending down, and we want to help keep it that way! During your visit to the Garden, we will provide areas where people can spread out to enjoy the mud fun, use hand sanitizer and handwashing stations, and make masks available.
With Mud Day @ Home, you can look forward to celebrating nature through activities like Mud Painting and Muddy Science experiments! The virtual event is designed to be accessible with activities you can do in your own home using household materials.
Admission to the Garden is free, and so is our celebration! As a community-funded organization, donations are encouraged. Your gifts allow us to put community events – like this one – together. Make a secure donation online, or bring some cash along to put into our donation post. Vintage Gaia merchandise and refreshments will be available for purchase!

We can’t wait to see how you celebrate International Mud Day! Share your photos and Mud Day stories with our Communications & Marketing Coordinator, Monique (she/her) at

*Caregivers are encouraged to let your child lead and resist the temptation to pressure your child into an experience they are not quite ready for. Our goal is for every visitor – especially the youngest – to engage (or not engage!) with the Mud in the way the want.

Create a Muddy Play Space

Muddy play can be a joyous sensory experience. At Ithaca Children’s Garden we’re fortunate to have the Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone where mud pits are a usual sight. Bring some of that muddy play home by creating a muddy play space in your yard, or even inside.

This setup is ideal if you don’t have much space. Find a shady spot, roughly 4’x4’. A little smaller will work as well. Look for items you can recycle for your muddy play space.

A child's hands squish a clean mud mixture in their hands.

Looking for all the fun of mud play without the mud? Give clean “mud” a try. It’s just as fun to make as it is to play with!

This activity is best designed for 2-6 year olds with some supervision, while 7+ can potentially do this independently.

Mix Up Some Mud Paint

Mud paint makes rich and earthy shades of color. It’s easy to make and a great way to celebrate mud. You can paint paper, large sheets of fabric, or your body.

Cultural Connections

What is International Mud Day all about?

International Mud Day has its origin at the World Forum for Early Childhood Care and Education in Belfast when two members of the Nature Action Collaborative for Children, Gillian McAuliffe from Western Australia and Bishnu Bhatta from Nepal, worked together to overcome the challenges their communities faced in playing with mud.

Many of the children from orphanages Bishnu Bhatta worked with in Nepal didn’t have enough clothes to be able to get them dirty. Gillian McAulife shared this story with a class of 7 and 8 year old students at the school she directed in Australia and the class raised money to provide extra clothes to the kids in Nepal. On the same day that year, the children in Nepal and Australia celebrated with a day of muddy play, instigating a global day of nature celebration!

In 2012, the first International Mud Day Celebration in the Northeast of the US took place at the Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone in Ithaca Children’s Garden!

In Nepal, Mud Day marks the beginning of the rice-growing season. It is a celebration of the nature that provides the ideal place to plant rice, the commodity that will later sustain the community. Apart from sustaining the Garden’s children all year in the Hands-On-Nature Anarchy Zone, Ithaca Children’s Garden’s mud becomes a home for frogs, a bath for the birds, and the nutrients and support for lots of different plants in an ecological community. In 2013, rice was planted at Ithaca Children’s Garden as a gesture of unity with Nepal – a grain that used to grow wild along the banks of the Great Lakes where it was gathered by the ancestors of the members of the Seneca Nation.

Our sponsors make it happen!

A Look Back at Past International Mud Day Festivals

For an in-depth look at the muddy fun, take a look at our past Mud Day photo albums:

We would love to hear from you!