Traveling isn’t all complete without trying to have a quick bite of the local culture of the destination you chose. Sometimes, even the culture itself drives us to leave and go to a new place, isn’t it? So if you’re looking for something worth seeing and experiencing for a short moment yet will leave a happy mark in your jetsetter heart, here’s a list of the different popular festivals around the world that you should check out.
Dubai Shopping Festival – Dubai (January 2 – February 2)
Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) started on 16 February 1995 as a retail event intended to revitalise retail trade in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It has since been promoted as a tourist attraction. This yearly month long event is usually scheduled during the first quarter of the year, attracting about 3 million people to Dubai.
During Dubai Shopping Festival, shops offer discounts on their merchandise, daily car raffles are drawn, and there is a fireworks display.
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival – China (January 5 – February 5)
Do they wanna build a snowman? Not really. The people of Harbin, Heilongjiang, China want to show huge ice and snow sculptures and fortresses which are beautifully lit at night, attracting tourists from all over the world.
The BPM Festival Playa del – Carmen, Mexico (January 09 – 18)
The BPM Festival features more than 50 official events, split into day and night shows hosted by record labels and promoters. However, BPM party-goers are also drawn by many unofficial events and parties—some called “pop ups”— that take place outside of the official roster.
Banff Snow Days – Banff, Canada (January 09 – February 08)
Pack up and head out into the outdoor beauty of Banff National Park for its third annual Snow Days, a celebration of all things winter—but most notably, sports, food and entertainment. Everyone gets to dip their toe in, depending on how much winter they want to experience, but since most events take place in downtown Banff, it’s easy to get a good dose
Ati-Atihan –Kalibo, Philippines (January 10 – 19)
Ati-Atihan is a nine-day exhibition of costume and dance. Soot-black painted faces, feather headdresses, and animal bones create an arresting visual impression.
La Tamborrada – San Sebastian, Spain (January 18 – 19)
For almost 300 years, San Sebastián has been celebrating the feast day of its namesake saint, Saint Sebastian, with a strange, exciting and cacophonous parade of drumming that lasts an epic 24 hours—from midnight to midnight. This is San Sebastián’s most popular festival,
Chinese New Year (Between January 21 & February 20)
Lion dance, dragon dance, red envelopes with money, sticky “nian gao” (year cake), lanterns and fabulous fireworks; put them all together in a day or a whole week and you have the huge Chinese New Year celebration. Not only in China, Chinese New year is celebrated in other Asian countries with large Chinese communities. Korea also celebrates the same day as Lunar New Year (Seollal) or simply known as Korean New Year.
Sundance Film Festival – Utah, USA (end of January)
Watch the amazing films — from feature length to shorts — in this large independent film festival, the Sundance.
Magh Mela Festival – India
Hindu devotees take a dip in the waters of Ganges and the other sacred rivers of India to wash away their sins. Huge crowds gather during this peaceful gathering which could reach up to 80 million attendees.
Up Helly Aa Fire Festival- Scotland (last Tuesday of January)
The fire festival is held in Lerwick, Shetland to mark the end of the yule season. See series of marches and visitation, torch-lit procession and the burning of the galley
Desert Festival – Jaisalmer, India (February 1)
The Desert Festival is a three-day celebration that features the culture of Rajasthan with colorful costumes, dancing to ballads about heroism, romance, and tragedy of the folk heroes.
Sapporo Snow Festival – Sapporo, Japan (February 05 – 11)
The staging of nearly 400 spectacular ice and snow sculptures is what draws visitors to the 12-block stretch of Odori Park, home to much of the action and the majority of sculpture activity. During the day, stroll and watch the artists at work, carving up everything from life-size renderings of animals and historical monuments, temples and buildings.
Rio Carnival – Brazil (February 13)
Considered as the biggest carnival in the world, Rio Carnival almost gathers two million visitors per day. The festival won’t be complete without the music, dance and street parades.
The Battle of the Oranges – Ivrea, Italy (February 14)
The largest food fight in Italy, the Battle of the Oranges is simply about people throwing oranges at each other.
Carnival of Venice – Italy (February 15)
This celebration makes the people all equal without a care about their social classes and other differences by wearing masks and costumes. The Venetian masks which can be made from leather, porcelain and glass, transformed into different distinct styles, are the main feature of this event.
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival – Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (February 16)
The modern incarnation of the Trinidad Carnival is a bawdy, rum-flavored feast for the senses: dancing, eating, drinking, sweating—generally speaking, the biggest party (also known locally as a fête) that you can imagine. Carnival is definitely not a spectator sport. You could stay on the sidelines if you tried, but what’s the point? Participate in the masor masquerade by purchasing an outfit or designing one of your own. Remember, this is the Caribbean
Mardi Gras – New Orleans, USA (February 17)
Mardi Gras is a series of the Carnival celebrations right on or after the Epiphany up to the day before Ash Wednesday. Just like Rio Carnival, Mardi Gras is celebrated in preparation for the upcoming Lenten season. The event isn’t only unique in USA for countries like Belgium, Italy and Germany have their own “Mardi Gras”.
Viareggio Carnevale – Viareggio, Italy (February 22)
Viareggio the lively, fun-loving venue of one of Europe’smost famous and largest Mardi Gras-style festivals. In Italy, it’s second to Venice as the most popular Carnival in the country. Millions of Italians tune in to watch Carnevale’s Fat Tuesday parade, which is broadcast live on national TV each year.
National Grape Harvest Festival – Mendoza, Argentina (February 28 – March 04)
The National Grape Harvest Festival (Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia) officially started in 1936 when engineer Frank Romero Day, the then Minister of Industry and Public Works in Mendoza, signed a decree that the grape harvest would become a social event as part of the national agenda.
Pingxi Lantern Festival – Taiwan (March 5)
The night sky during this festival is amazingly lit by fire lanterns where people have written their wishes on before releasing them all together into the sky.
Holi Festival – India
This is literally a colorful festival as the Hindus and Sikh celebrating it throw colored powder and water at each other. Holi is celebrated in Sri Lanka, Nepal and slowly becomes popular in other countries as well.
Frozen Dead Guy Days – Nederland, Colorado, USA (March 7)
The Frozen Dead Guy Days is a celebration for winter and the frozen corpse of Bredo Morstel, a Norwegian whose grandson brought his dead body in the US by preserving it using dry ice. It gets weirder when the townspeople actually make it a point to celebrate the weekend by making sure they look ice dead, participate in a frozen T-shirt contest, and jump in ice cold water in full costume.
Las Fallas de Valencia – Spain (March 14)
If you want to see burning streets, smell gunpowder, watch fireworks and anything else in flames? The odd Las Fallas de Valencia will serve you nothing but fire that represents the locals’ creativity, happiness and sometimes, rage.
Saint Patrick’s Day Festival – Dublin, Ireland (March 14)
The festival where in you’ll see those popular green attire and shamrocks, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t only celebrated in Ireland but also in other countries through Irish communities, embassies or organizations.
Calle Ocho Festival – Miami, Florida, USA (March 15)
Celebrated in a Cuban street of Little Havana in Miami, the Calle Ocho Festival closes off 24 blocks to make way for live entertainment, music, dance, food and drinks.
Rouketopolemos Vrontados – Greece (March 18 – April 30)
Over 60,000 rockets fired in one night by rival churches: modern or medieval? This surreal festival isn’t for those who want to celebrate Easter in a more conventional, quiet manner. The fact that church services are being held while all these rockets are being fired just 400 meters from each other is pretty bizarre.
Ultra Music Festival – Miami, Florida, USA (March 27)
Ultra music fest is an annual electronic music festival and there’s nothing else you can do but go wild all day.
BaliSpirit Festival – Ubud, Bali, Indonesia (March 31 – April 05)
There was a time when people went to music or cultural festivals, burned themselves out, and then needed weeks to recover from the madness. Like the growing Wanderlust festival, BaliSpirit is a relatively new phenomenon, a festival where you are built-up rather than burnt-out. With health and wellness presenters from around the world (and participants from more than 50 countries), be prepared for a beautiful experience that will engage all six of your senses as the lovely, lush Ubud has done for visitors for hundreds of years.