Culture, partying and dancing your thing? Then pack your bags and take a trip around the world to experience any of these amazing festivals and cultures from around the globe.
For the usual traveller on trip or vacation, a travel to-do list will look something like this:
- Visit attractions and sights
- Visit the beach
- Try a local delicacy
- Maybe bungee jump. climb a mountain or skydive.
This may seem like the perfect to-do list; but it is missing one of the most exciting travel experience out there, festivals. For a bucket list worthy, charged up cultural experience you won’t forget in a hurry, it doesn't get any better than festivals.
Almost all festivals are cultural celebrations that have existed for decades and centuries, making them the perfect and most immersive way to experience firsthand, a people's belief, culture, dance, food, and clothing. Despite being handed down from generation to generation, most of these cultural festivals have been well preserved. Tourist attendance has continued to increase with every year thanks to a social media driven world.
From dangerous bull chases to the largest food fights in the world, if you are about partying, fun and culture, you are assured of an experience of a lifetime attending any one of the festivals listed below.
- The Rio de Janeiro Carnival - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Rio festival dates back to the early 1700s in honour of the gods and is the most famous cultural export of Brazil. With over two million in attendance every year, the Rio carnival is hands down the largest festival in the world and a must-see for every fun seeker! It is by far the world’s most spectacular and mind blowing display of colours; taking place every February or March, five days before the catholic lent season.
In the 5-day duration of the festival, every commercial activity not related to the festival is shut down for the fun and partying. Revellers from all walks of life and income levels participate in this brilliant dance show parades complete with street bands and blocos (street parties).
Next date: Afternoon, March 1 – Midday, March 6
2. Boryeong Mud Festival — Boryeong, South Korea
For two weeks every July, Boryeong in South Korea hosts what is best described as a “mud-tastic” experience of dirt. Activities and attractions you can expect include mud pits, mud fountains, mud football competition, mud pool, mud slides, mud sculptures, mud massaging, mud skiing competitions, and pretty much every mud related activity known to man.
Everyone hates mud but would you be willing to get soaked in mud packed with skin rejuvenating minerals including bentonites, and geraniums? Most likely, yes. This explains why the mud festival draws attendance from across the world. How a cosmetics company’s marketing stunt grew to become a mud-fest attended by over 2.2 million people is a story for another time.
3. La Tomatina — Buñol, Spain
Imagine an elite food fight of just 20,000 fighters from all corners of the world and your only ammo, tomatoes. That’s La tomatina!
Observed since 1945, in the valencian town of Buñol, in Spain, the world’s biggest food fight takes place every last wednesday in August. Attendance peaked at approximately 60,000 in 2012 straining the small city Buñol. This led to the introduction of tickets in 2013 to control the influx of visitors and tourists into the Buñol.
The celebrations lasts usually for about an hour with the city’s fire service helping to wash off what’s left of thousands of kilogrammes of tomatoes. If you’re scared of getting hurt, no worries, there are rules guiding the festival with the most important one being that all tomatoes must be squashed before being thrown.
Next date: August 28, 2019
4. Running of the Bulls, Pamplona, Spain
Dating back over 700 years, the bull run is held every year as part of activities marking the annual Sanfermines in honour of Saint Fermin, the first bishop of Pamplona. The festival grew out of the need to transfer bulls from breeding fields on the city outskirts to the bull ring within the city with thousands of men jumping in the paths of the raging bulls as a show of bravery.
Every year from 6th to the 14th of July, thousands of tourists descend on the historic capital of Navarre sporting all white with red waistbands displayed for sale at least two days to the event. Continuous drinking, dancing and partying are the trademarks of this festival with live music and nightly fireworks show by 11pm every night of the festival so you might want to take a quick nap whenever possible because parties go on all night.
At its core, the running of the bulls is 875 metres of hair raising bull runs from the pen on the city outskirts to the stadium or bullring in the city center. Multiple rockets fired indicate the different stages of the day’s activity from when the first set of six bulls out of 12 are released to when the last of the 12 bulls makes it to the ring.
To ensure safety, participation is age restricted, at least 18 years old and running under the influence of alcohol is prohibited.
Next date: 6th – 14th July, 2019
5. Holi - India
To enjoy some of the happiest festivals in the world, you have to be willing to get dirty and have stuff thrown at you by complete strangers and the hindu Holi festival is no exception.
Also referred to as “festival of colours” or “festival of love’, the Holi is a hindu festival that commemorates the triumph of evil over good marking the beginning of the spring season and end of the winter. It lasts for a day and night promoting the mending of broken relationships as well as forgiveness.
It is one of the most colorful celebrations in the world and one of the most renowned festivals associated with India. It is a festival of colour with lots of music, water, colours seeing lots of people from different backgrounds, countries and walks of life coming to celebrate.
A typical Holi festival involves people throwing and smearing themselves with colours, coloured water and lots of dancing. Everyone is fair game and societal norms are kept aside for the celebrations that allows children smear or throw colours at adults and the elderly.
If you’re looking to take your celebrations a level higher, Bhang is a traditional paste made from cannabis that is locally consumed during the festival. It ends with visitations from family and friends later in the evening when everyone has cleaned up and a little sober often leading to merry making and dancing late into the night.
Next date: Thursday, 21 March