Our Favorite Festivals Around the World
Around the world, it feels like there’s seemingly always an amazing festival going on whether it’s a celebration of culture, music, food, art, or a mix of it all. They bring together locals and tourists alike, and they can be some of the most fun travel memories to look back on. If you love getting a dose of local flavor while traveling, consider adding one of these festivals to your travel bucket list.
Source: Where to Willie
Location: Cities throughout India, Nepal (and the world!)
When is it: The last lunar cycle of the winter, usually in February or March
Who should go: Those who are looking for a cultural experience (and those who don’t mind getting a little messy in the process).
Known as the festival of colors, Hindus and non-Hindus alike come together to celebrate the triumph of good over evil while welcoming spring during Holi. During the celebration, participants take to the streets to throw brightly colored powder dyes, and everyone is fair game. Many of those who celebrate use it as an opportunity to forgive others, mend relationships, and leave conflicts in the past. Though the festival is most common in India, the festival has gained significant popularity in recent years, and you can participate in many cities around the world.
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When is it: Carnival starts on the Monday before Ash Wednesday.
Who should go: Carnival is a pretty lively event so those who love music, dancing and late nights will feel right at home.
Carnival is celebrated in several different cities and towns, but the festival in Rio has become one of the largest and most famous. For five days, expect non-stop dancing, music, partying, and merriment. If you’re hitting up the festival and want to go all out, you can even rent a costume and participate in a parade. In addition, there are several balls, street parties, and concerts all around. Because there are a lot of different events and festivities that take place during Carnival, make sure to plan well in advance.
Location: Cities throughout Thailand
When is it: Mid-April
Who should go: Those wanting to immerse themselves in Thai culture while having a little fun along the way.
Songkran is a festival celebrating the Thai New Year that takes place from April 13-15th. During the festival, streets are closed off, and water fights take place throughout the country. Many Thais visit temples to cleanse Buddhist icons or clean their homes, a ritual meant to bring luck and prosperity in the new year. Though the water fights and celebrations that take place throughout Thai cities are fun and lighthearted, the real purpose behind the festival is to wash away the misfortunes of the previous year, and start the new year with a clean slate.
Source: David Ramos via Spotahome
Location: Buñol, Spain
When is it: The last Wednesday in August
Who should go: This festival is not for the faint of heart as you’ll be in crowds and covered from head to toe in tomatoes by the time all is said and done. That being said, it’s one of the most unique festivals out there, and great for someone looking for an unforgettable experience.
Known as the world’s biggest food fight, this messy festival takes place in Bunol, Spain. During the festival, revelers throw over 100,000 pounds of tomatoes in the streets of this Spanish town. The actual tomato fight lasts for only about an hour, but there are plenty of other events that take place during the festival as well. Live music, dancing, cooking contests, and parties are all key parts of celebrating La Tomatina.
Source: Myers RV School
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
When is it: The first full week of October
Who should go: This is a great festival for those looking for a stunning visual experience. Photographers will especially love snapping photos here. It’s definitely a more laid-back time than some of the other festivals on the list.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the world’s largest hot air balloon event. For nine days, hundreds of balloons take flight over Sandia Mountains. In addition to the morning balloon flights, there are a number of other festival events that take place throughout the day like concerts and art shows. Unlike some of the other festivals on the list that are in far-flung locations, you won’t have to leave the U.S. to experience this truly unique sight.
Location: Munich, Germany
Who should go: Beer lovers (of course!), and those interested in German culture.
When is it: mid-September through the beginning of October
Millions of visitors assemble in Munich for Oktoberfest, one of the most iconic, and well-loved festivals in the world. Visit one of the famed beer tents, where you’ll find only Oktoberfest beers made in Munich being poured. Each tent has it’s own vibe and atmosphere so travel around to a few to see which you like best. In addition to the beer, get ready for lots of traditional food options and live music. If you really want to get into the spirit, you can rent traditional Oktoberfest garb as well!
Source: kris krüg
Location: Austin, Texas
When is it: Mid-March
Who should go: Music lovers and those who work in the media industry.
The ultimate festival for lovers of music, film and interactive media, South By Southwest takes place annually in Austin, Texas. At South by Southwest, you’ll spend your days experiencing the best and brightest share what's new in fields like media and tech. Music is still at the forefront of South By Southwest however, and you’ll find venues all over Austin to explore in the evenings. It’s a great way to enjoy music, and discover your new favorite artist. Pace yourself though, as there is a lot to take in and experience over the course of the festival.
Location: Sapporo, Japan
When is it: Over the course of a week in February
Who should go: Those interested in Japanese arts and culture who don’t mind chilly winter temperatures.
Over two million people visit Sapporo every year for the Sapporo Snow Festival, an exhibit of some of the most incredible snow and ice sculptures imaginable. For an entire week, the city is transformed into a real life winter wonderland with sculpture sites throughout the city including the downtown areas. In addition to the exhibitions, there are lots of snow themed activities like snow slides and snow mazes to keep you preoccupied. When you’re ready to head indoors, the incredible food options (like the Nijo Market) in Sapporo will warm you right up.