If you’re looking for a vacation with a difference then you should consider a trip that takes in one or more of these incredible festivals from around the world. These huge, exhilarating events should be on everyone’s bucket list as people of all nationalities come together to celebrate life. Festivals are the perfect way to immerse yourself in the country’s culture so here are 12 of the best festivals you’ll not want to miss:
1. New Orleans Mardi Gras
World-famous ‘Fat Tuesday’ is one of the most well-known festivals in the world. The origins come from the preparation for the Christian period of Lent and nowhere does it in bigger and better style than New Orleans. Street parades, parties, carnivals, masquerade balls and cake are all part of the festivities that begin after Twelfth Night in January.
2. Glastonbury, England
One of the most iconic music festivals in the world takes place in the often-muddy fields of Glastonbury. It is the biggest open-air music festival on the planet and includes all genres of music, performing arts, comedy, theater and dance. There are hundreds of live acts every year with some of the biggest names in rock and pop performing on the main stage.
3. Rio Carnival
This iconic carnival is held before Lent annually and is considered the biggest and best carnival on earth. Each day of the colorful celebrations sees 2 million people descend onto the streets of Rio. The carnival’s roots date back to 1723 but the show gets brighter and more glamorous with each passing year. This is one spectacular event you’ll certainly want to experience at least once in your life.
4. Day Of The Dead, Mexico
Featured in the last James Bond movie, this fascinating May festival is a much happier occasion than it sounds. Family and friends join together to celebrate the lives of dead loved ones, remember them so they live on in the afterlife and pray for them too. It’s a big deal in Mexico and is considered a National Holiday with banks closing for the day.
5. La Tomatina Festival
Fancy getting covered in tomatoes? Well, here is your chance. The Spanish town of Bunol in the Valencia region holds an annual tomato-throwing event just for the fun of it. If you’ve ever had the urge to throw tomatoes at complete strangers then head to this small town on the last Wednesday of August for a tomatoe-y end to a week of festivities.
6. Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival
Is there anything more beautiful than pink cherry blossom as far as the eye can see? Between the 12th and 18th April, Yeouido island in the heart of Seoul in South Korea hosts the annual cherry blossom festival. The stunning trees run along the Han River, where you can stroll under the gorgeous pink canopy overhead. Undeniably beautiful, this is one event that will leave you with some fantastic photos and amazing memories.
7. Bordeaux Wine Festival
Anyone who enjoys good wine, fine dining and a large dose of culture will love this event in Bordeaux, France. Located in a large square on the banks of the River Garonne, the festival features great gastronomical events, wine-tasting and many other examples of the high life of French culture. More than 300,000 visitors arrive each year for the event which is sure to get your taste buds tingling! Don’t miss the grand finale as the festival ends with a bang.
8. Holi, India
A spring festival celebrated mainly by the Hindu faith, it’s most famous for the throwing of colored powder and water in the streets, coating every passer-by and participant in a bright, chalky mess! Bonfires are lit, parties and food abound and the celebrations can last for up to 16 days. It’s a vibrant celebration of life and the Hindu faith which should not be missed if you’re planning a trip to India.
9. Obon Festival, Japan
Normally held in August, the Obon Festival is a Buddhist festival to remember ancestors. A huge bonfire is lit up in the hills surrounding Kyoto, Bon Odori dances are performed and thousands of lanterns are released into the river to symbolize the souls of the departed returning to their graves. Also known as the ‘festival of lanterns’ for this very reason, it is a beautiful sight to behold as the paper lanterns gently float down the river.
10. Songkran, Thailand
The New Year in Thailand is celebrated a little differently due to being the hottest time of the year here. If you happen to be out on the streets during this festival then be prepared for a soaking! Water bombs, water guns and anything they can put water in becomes a weapon in this fun, watery mayhem. The traditional side of things still sees Thais spring clean their homes, pay homage to Buddha and sprinkle water on their elders as a sign of respect. It’s that tradition that’s become a bit wilder than it used to be!
11. Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, China
You haven’t seen a real snowman until you’ve been to this festival. Held in Harbin, in the coldest parts of Northeast China, each year visitors descend to marvel at the magnificent sculptures that have been chiseled out of the snow and ice. From tiny to colossal, the genius and craftsmanship make this a must-see event. It might be a shivery -20 degrees Celsius but the beauty of the frozen art is well worth the effort.
12. Oktoberfest, Germany
Munich in Germany is the place to be this fall and especially if you love beer. When you need to sober up, you’ll find plenty of café tents serving strong coffee and the nation’s iconic Black Forest cake. There are parades, beer, food, beer, music and yes, more beer! The event runs for between 16 and 18 days and promises much merriment, fairground rides and a fascinating way to experience true Bavarian culture.