30 Festivals around the World You Must Visit
What is better than visiting a new place? Visiting a new place for a specific festival or celebration! Festivals are a great way to experience a destination in a unique way, whether it is related to arts, food, wine, religion, music, etc. And with several hundred festivals organized around the world, there is a wide range to choose from! We chose 30 of the best festivals that you should include in your bucket list:
One of the most famous carnivals in the world. The city is transformed into a magical place where you only see beautiful costumes and typical Venetian masks. The carnival attracts millions of visitors per year and it is really crowded, unless you know where to go and when. The carnival includes a series of festivities that are historical celebrations as well as masked balls and parties all over the city!
When: February 16 – March 5 (for 2019)
Where: Venice, Italy
2) Carnaval – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
World’s biggest carnival! It takes place every year before Lent and it is celebrated to honor the gods and the great waters. People dress in beautiful costumes and dance on the streets day and night. The Rio carnival parade fills with floats, dancers of samba and there are several mini-festivals taking place around the city during these days.
When: March 1 – March 9 (for 2019)
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
3) Tomorrowland – Boom, Belgium
Tomorrowland has grown into the biggest electronic dance music festival in the world. It was first held in 2015 and gas since become one of the must-visit festivals for music lovers. The festival’s lineups have included David Guetta, Hardwell, Martin Garrix, Paul Kalkbrenner, Solomun, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Solomun and many more. There is also an open field with tents and camps for people to rest and sleep. Tomorrowland takes place during the final two weekends of July and sells out in minutes! A warm-up festival takes place at the Tomorrowland Winter village. This festival is help at several locations at Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine Ski (French Alps) and will be open from March 9th until March 15th.
When: the final two weekends of July
Where: Boom, Belgium
4) Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany
Oktoberfest is the festival every true beer lover simply must attend! It runs from mid or late September to the first weekend of October, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. During the event, millions of liters of beer are consumed, while visitors enjoy several attractions, such as games and amusement rides.
When: September 22 – October 7 (for 2018)
Where: Munich, Germany
5) La Tomatina – Buñol, Spain
Buñol, the Spanish town of Valencia, is the place where this crazy fun festival takes place. Kilos and kilos of tomatoes are brought from Extremadura and, once the signal is given, the tomato war begins. People who take part in this chaos have to wear protective safety goggles and gloves and for safety precautions, they have to squish the tomatoes before throwing it. No one is allowed to bring into this fight anything dangerous, like a glass bottle. When the signal is given, the fighting ends and no tomatoes can be thrown at this point. Fire trucks are being used to spray down the streets with water. People most likely head to the Buñol River in order to wash themselves.
When: August 28
Where: Buñol, Spain
6) Coachella – Indio, California, USA
Coachella is one of the largest, most popular, and most profitable music festivals in the United States and all over the world and sells out in minutes. It includes a series of concerts of established musical artists, emerging artists as well as reunited groups. Hollywood’s biggest celebrities show at Coachella, which turns into a place where new fashion styles and outfits are projected. It’s not only about the amazing music; it is also about the amazing style!
When: April 12-14 & April 19-21 (for 2019)
Where: Indio, California (USA)
7) Burning Man – Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA
If you want to break from the ordinary, you can take part in the Burning Man project where people explore various forms of artistic self-expression. It includes various creative events, such as interactive sculpture, building, performance, art cars, etc. as well as DJ sets and parties. It is the place where people go to shed themselves of the conventions of society. In the Burning Man Festival there is no audience, only participants. No need to take any money with you; you will take with you all the supplies you might need for a week in the desert, since there are no kiosks or any kind of selling and buying. Of course, all the events are free. The last day, the participants burn a giant wooden thing that barely looks like a man and signal the end of the festival.
When: August 25 – September 2 (for 2019)
Where: Black Rock Desert, Nevada (USA)
8) White Nights Festival – St. Petersburg, Russia
This annual international arts festival is a series of events around the longest days of the year, from mid-May to mid-July. It consists of classical ballet, opera, music, film and outdoor celebrations, with the Scarlet Sails being the most famous public event of the festival. It is highly popular for its spectacular fireworks, tall ships, and massive shows.
When: May 23 – July 29 (for 2019)
Where: St. Petersburg, Russia
9) St. Patrick’s Day – Dublin, Ireland
Named after Saint Patrick, St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday that commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and celebrates the Irish culture in general. Public parades and festivals take place not only in Ireland but also in other parts of the world, especially if there are Irish immigrants and communities there. People wear green attire or shamrocks and fill the pubs and streets.
When: March 17
Where: Dublin, Ireland
10) Glastonbury Festival – Glastonbury, England
Glastonbury is one of the best music and performing arts festival in the world, known for its contemporary music. Except for the gigs, it also includes theater, circus, comedy, parties and film showings. Glastonbury is dirty, wild and one of the best places on earth to be.
When: June 26 – June 30 (for 2019)
Where: Glastonbury, England
11) Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival – Harbin, China
The largest snow and ice festival in the world that attracts over 19 million visitors every year. It includes the world’s biggest ice sculptures (towering over 20 feet in height) as well as full-size buildings from gigantic blocks of ice. Every year people built incredible things out of ice and snow, decorating them with lights and lasers. Other activities in the area during this phenomenal festival include alpine skiing, touring ice lantern exhibitions and swimming the river’s frigid waters.
When: December 20, 2018 – February 28 (for 2019)
Where: Harbin, Heilongjiang (China)
12) Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) – Mexico City, Mexico
The Day of The Dead is an important holiday celebrated in Mexico and other cultures as well, in order to remember and celebrate ancestors who have died and help them on their spiritual journey. It mostly includes gatherings of family and friends, a parade, and parties with skeleton costumes and games.
When: November 2 – November 4 (for 2018)
Where: Mexico City, Mexico & Los Angeles, USA
13) Holi Festival – India
Holi is a spring festival also known as “the festival of colors” or “the festival of love”. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival that celebrates the end of winter and the victory of good over evil. The Indian people come together to play, throw colors, chase each other and also water fight. It is mostly celebrated on the streets with loud music and later people retreat to house parties to continue the celebration.
When: March 21 (for 2019)
Where: India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and other Hindu regions
14) Up Helly Aa Festival – Lerwick, Scotland
It takes place every year on the last Tuesday in January. Up Helly Aa Day is a fire festival that involves a series of marches and visitations, culminating in a torch-lit procession and the burning of a galley. There are also performing acts and dancing taking place in halls throughout Lerwick. The festival is completed with the burning of a full-scale Viking ship.
When: January 29 (for 2019)
Where: Lerwick, Scotland
15) Sundance Film Festival – Park City, Utah, USA
The Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival in the United States. American and international filmmakers present their dramatic and documentary films, or even premieres during this festival. It is for those who do not want to conform to Hollywood’s rules. If you love edgy, powerful films, Sundance is what you are looking for.
When: January 24 – February 3 (for 2019)
Where: Park City, Utah (USA)
16) Cannes Film Festival – Cannes, France
It is one of the most important film festivals in the world which previews films of all genres, including documentaries. The French festival is famous for giving platform to upcoming directors and performers of all nationalities. The ceremony has awards, with the most important being the Palme d’Or. It is a glamorous, prestigious event, filled with fashion and celebrities!
When: May 14 – May 25 (for 2019)
Where: Cannes, France
17) Comic Con International – San Diego, California, USA
San Diego Comic Con International is the focal point for the world of comics conventions. It takes place in a giant Exhibit Hall where comics, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, fantasy novels, and other elements of the popular arts are being projected. Comic Con presents several special guests comics creators, science fiction and fantasy authors
, film and television directors, producers, and writers, and creators from all aspects of the popular arts together with their fans for a fun and often times candid discussion of various art forms.
When: July 18 – July 21 (for 2019)
Where: San Diego, California (USA)
18) Notting Hill Carnival – Notting Hill, London
This festival is one of London’s summer highlights! The Notting Hill Carnival takes place each August over two days and is one of the world’s largest street festivals. During this festival, people celebrate the Caribbean heritage with costume-clad Caribbean’s dancing to traditional reggae, meringue, calypso, rumba, zouk music, as well as vendors selling food like seasoned jerk chicken, callaloo, and traditional goat stew.
When: August 24 – August 26 (for 2019)
Where: Notting Hill, London
19) New Year's Eve – Sydney Harbor, Australia
This ultimate annual event takes place on the Sydney Harbor Bridge and includes two main pyrotechnic displays: the 9pm Family Fireworks and the Midnight Fireworks, both of which are televised nationally with the Midnight Fireworks televised globally. The event attracts hundred thousands of people worldwide and is one of the best ways to welcome the New Year!
When: December 31
Where: Sydney Harbor, Australia
20) Gay Pride Parade – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Held annually during the first weekend of August, Amsterdam Pride attracts several hundred-thousand visitors each year and is one of the largest events in the Netherlands. The Festival usually organizes a week of various activities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, such as exhibitions, cultural and sport events. There are also endless street parties taking place and also a canal parade.
When: July 27 – August 4 (for 2019)
Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands
21) New Year’s Eve Party – New York, USA
As the famous New Year’s Eve Ball descends atop Times Square accompanied by special pyrotechnic effects, around one million people located in Times Square, are united in bidding collective farewell to the departing year. The Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration features musical performances, balloons, handouts, confetti, and many more. There is a risk of getting crushed due to the crowd, but it is worth it.
When: December 31
Where: Times Square, New York (USA)
22) Full Moon Party – Haad Rin Beach, Koh Phangan, Thailand
This festival is the ultimate travelers get together! The Full Moon Party is an all-night beach party that takes place on the night of, before or after every full moon. The party begins at dusk and as the evening progresses the beach explodes into a dancing madness; trance, techno, drum and bass, commercial dance and reggae, nobody is disappointed. Fireworks displays and jugglers complete the atmosphere.
When: October 25 (for 2019)
Where: Haad Rin Beach, Koh Phangan (Thailand)
23) Songkran Water Festival – Thailand
Songkran, also known as the Thai New Year Festival, falls on some of the hottest days in Thailand and people celebrate it by throwing water on each other using water guns, buckets, or hoses. The Thai people believe that water is spiritually purifying; it cleanses you of any bad luck from the past year and blesses you with happiness for the year ahead. Of course, do not bring with you any devices, such as smartphone or laptop, or any important documents, such as passports. Plan to get wet and be prepared to stay this way, if you’re anywhere near this celebration.
When: April 13 – April 15
24) Sky Lantern Festival – Pingxi, Taiwan, China
The Sky Lantern Festival is one of the most spectacular events in Taiwan and celebrates the last day of the Lunar New Year. It involves the nighttime release of thousands of sky lanterns over Pingxi District and it is always overwhelmed with visitors. The sight of sky lanterns with their lights rising slowing into the sky is for many Taiwanese a beautiful memory and the beginning of happiness and dreams.
When: February 17 (for 2019)
Where: Pingxi, Taiwan (Republic of China)
25) Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta — Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, taking place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During early October, hundreds of balloonists and tourists from around the globe gather for a chance to witness and photograph the spectacular hot air ballooning events. The festival includes balloon games, piloting, skill and speed competitions, and more!
When: October 6 – October 14 (for 2018)
Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico
26) Fes Festival of World Sacred Music – Fes, Morocco
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco is a 10-day celebration held in the middle of the summer and takes place in the imperial city of Fes. Artists and music groups from all around the world are brought together to one of the most successful world music festivals in the world. Music connects different cultures in this 10-day celebration that includes concerts, art and film exhibitions, excursions to the monuments of the area and many more. The audience is encouraged to actively participate and to learn to appreciate different cultures while communicating better with each other.
When: June 14 – June 22 (for 2019)
Where: Fes, Morocco
27) Ouidah International Voodoo Festival – Ouidah, Benin
In Ouidah, a small town and former slave port in the West African country of Benin, people from all over the world get together due to the slaves’ transportation to America. Around 60 million people lost their homelands and freedom during the African slave trade. There are voodoo fetishes stalls where you can buy all sorts of things everywhere. It is a diverse and exciting festival that introduces you to the region and the culture of Africa.
When: January 7 (for 2019)
Where: Ouidah, Benin
28) Wakakusa Yamayaki – Nara, Japan
The Wakakusa Yamayaki, literally “burning of Mount Mikasa”, includes the burning of the mountain on the hillside of Nara’s Mount Wakakusayama. The burning can be seen throughout the city and is preceded by a fireworks display.
When: January 26 (for 2019)
Where: Nara, Japan
29) International Dragon Boat Championships – Hong Kong
The festival commemorates the suicide drowning of the poet-politician, Qu Yuan and turns into a modern sport and international party. Every year, thousands of the world’s top dragon boat athletes battle at the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races for three days. Colors, drummers and fans everywhere!
When: June 14 – June 16 (for 2019)
Where: Hong Kong
30) Mardi Gras – New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is a cultural celebration connected with hedonism and debauchery. It is probably the wildest party in the United States and includes parades and non-stop street parties. If you want to party like there’s no tomorrow, this is the place to be!
When: March 5 (for 2019)
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana (USA)
Edited by Eleni Gkovedarou
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