Festivals are a fascinating window into the soul of a culture; extravagant, indulgent and whimsical they are a chance to escape reality and celebrate what makes the people, history and religion of a community so special. Whether you are looking for some fun in the sun, a true cultural experience or something a little more unusual, here are 10 festivals that deserve a place on your bucket list!
1. Holi Festival – India
Holi (also known as Dol Jatra, Basantotsav) is the Hindu festival of colour. This vibrant and energetic festival celebrates the arrival of spring and the season of joy and hope. Social barriers are broken, families come together and people from all walks of life come to throw coloured powder and liquids on each other, party in the streets and dance under water sprinklers!
2. Rio carnival – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio carnival is colourful, extravagant and wild! If you are looking for a party, Rio is the place to be with parades, festivities and costumes galore. Make sure to visit the spectacular Sambadrome where local samba schools compete for the most elaborate costumes and captivating dance moves in an sparkling, flamboyant parade.
3. Harbin Ice and Snow Festival – China
This winter wonderland is created using 80,000 square metres of ice and 150,000 square metres of snow where the best collections of ice artwork are displayed across the city. Grand sculptures, artistic carvings and bright colours make this a magical and otherworldly experience not to be missed!
4. La Tomantina – Bunol, Spain
La Tomantina is a massive food fight held on the last Wednesday of August each year consisting of, you guessed it, tomatoes! Dating back as far as 1944 nobody is quite sure how the festival originated but some theories include a food fight amongst friends, or townspeople attacking a city councilman with tomatoes during a town celebration many years ago.
5. Chinese New Year – China
The Chinese New Year is the most culturally significant festival in the country steeped in history and tradition where families come together to celebrate the beginning of spring.
6. Cultural Festivals – Ghana
Festivals are an important part of Ghanaian life, where locals dress up in traditional clothing and celebrate through song and dance. These run throughout the year and whether they are celebrating religion, rites of passage or the harvest they are always passionate and energetic affairs! Check out the Homowo festival, Bugum festival or the Edina Buronya for a real insight into Ghanaian culture.
7. Loy Krathong Festival – Sukothai, Thailand
This enchanting ‘festival of light’ shows Thailand’s captivating people and culture at it’s very best. Locals send ‘Krathongs’,resembling a lotus flower, candle and incense stick out on the nearest waters, whether that’s a lake, river or the ocean. The belief is that if the Krathong floats away from you then your luck will be in for the following year, however if it head back in your direction then it might not be your year! Ultimately it is a beautiful experience and a chance to be a part of a unique and magical Thai tradition.
8. Ati-Atihan Festival – Philippines
This lively week long festival is filled to the brim with costumes, music and dancing! Celebrated in honour of Santo Nino the week kicks off with an impressive parade in Kalibo on the island of Panay.
9. Venice Carnival – Italy
Steeped in history, tradition and elegance the Venice carnival bring in visitors from around the world to indulge in street parties, parades, masquerade balls and street theatre.
10. Desert Festival – Jaisalmer, India
Traditional Indian costumes, colourfully adorned elephants, camels, singing, dancing and a unique desert setting make this a must visit festival!