Festivals Around The World You Should See Once in Your Life
No matter where you travel around the world, people love to celebrate. Food, wine, beer, culture, art, holidays, religion, there truly is a festival for everything and reasons to celebrate life are far and plenty. We’ve rounded up a list of some of the top festivals and celebrations around the globe that are on the top of our bucket lists! Experience some of these festivals on a Classic Journeys scheduled departure, or craft a private journey to explore on your terms!
Cherry Blossom Festival – Japan
Japan is known around the world for its vibrant cherry blossom festivals that are held all over the country during the spring. Known as Hanami in Japanese, locals and tourists alike enjoy the ancient tradition of viewing the blooming of cherry blossoms and plum blossoms in parks and countrysides throughout the country. People flock to parks and drink and eat under the beautiful pink trees, making the viewing into a lively picnic under the trees. Sometimes, the blooms last no more than two weeks and have become a symbol of the impermanence of beauty and the appreciation of it. Cherry blossoms typically begin to bloom in Okinawa in January and reach their peak in March or April. Traditional Japanese performances, parades and tea ceremonies often accompany the spectacular blooms. Classic Journeys has a special edition trip to check out this stunning festival in the spring.
Carnival – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Widely considered the “greatest show on earth”, Carnival in Brazil attracts millions of people each year. Historically, the festival is a religious celebration held between the Friday afternoon before Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday at noon, marking the beginning of Catholic Lent. Carnival in Brazil is celebrated through elaborate costumes, lively music, dazzling parties and samba dance performances throughout the week. Samba schools from around the world perform and compete for the grand prize in front of thousands of people. Although Carnival is celebrated in several locations, there is no better place to experience it than Rio de Janeiro.
Songkran – Thailand
The word “Songkran” is derived from the Sanskrit word for “astrological passage” meaning change and transformation. A fitting name, considering this event is the celebration of the traditional New Year on April 13th. In the mornings, local Buddhist temples will offer food to the monks and water is poured on statues of Buddha, the young, and the elderly as a symbol of purification and transformation. However, the water ritual escalated to what has become the world’s biggest water fight. In Chiang Mai particularly, the celebration consists of closed off streets where thousands of people gather with water balloons, Super Soakers, and buckets of water and drench one another in a massive water fight.
St. Patrick’s Day Festival – Dublin, Ireland
We all know the fun of St. Patrick’s Day but have not experienced it to its full potential until visiting Dublin, Ireland for the holiday’s festivities. The holiday was originally celebrated to honor the patron saint of Ireland, so celebrating in the land of origin is the honorable thing to do. Traditions include wearing green clothing and shamrocks, public parades, music and Irish step dancing. The celebration is topped off in a pub with a nip of Irish Whiskey or pint of Guinness on tap!
Féz Festival of World Sacred Music – Féz, Morocco
The festival of world sacred music has been around for twenty-five years now and is a celebration of the ancient Moroccan city’s rich traditions in the arts. The UN has recognized the festival as one of the world’s most significant events to house a dialogue between different cultures around the world. Musicians, poets, and artists from around the world perform and attend. Féz, Morocco acts as the perfect spot for hosting such an event, following its rich artistic history and influence—as it was a city where philosophers, religious heads, and academics have gone to study for thousands of years.
Holi Festival – India, Nepal and Pakistan
The ancient Hindu festival is known as “the festival of colors” or “the festival of love” celebrates the end of winter and the victory of good over evil. The celebration is associated with various legends in the Hindu religion but ends in a colorful celebration regardless of the origin. Participants fill water balloons and water guns, drench each other and then cover one another rin colorful powders. Marching bands, food, dancing, and parties in the streets accompany the celebratory event that leaves people feeling childlike and giddy. Classic Journeys even has a special edition tour to experience the Holi Festival in India.
Semana Santa – Spain
Semana Santa–the week between Palm Sunday and Easter–is celebrated around the world, but Spain dedicates a week of festivities to properly commemorate the event. The elaborate approach to this celebration centers on the parade-like processions of Catholic brotherhoods that date back hundreds of years. The thing that most attracts travelers around the world is the massive floats (pasos) depicting biblical scenes that are carried through the streets. The most famous Semana Santa celebration can be experienced in Seville, where marching bands and music accompany large floats through the night and into the early mornings with participants and spectators often seen crying at the spectacular sight.
La Tomatina – Valencia, Spain
La Tomatina may be the most unique festival on our list, consisting of a massive tomato food fight in the streets of Buñol in Valencia, Spain. Thousands of people gather from around the world to throw tomatoes in the streets. Around 11 am on the last Wednesday of August each year, trucks drop several hundred tons of tomatoes in the town square and water canons signal the beginning of a massive food fight. The reasoning behind the tomato throwing festival is not completely known, but participants remain passionate about the messy tradition.
Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany
Oktoberfest in Munich is the world’s largest beer celebration and draws in visitors from around the world. The grounds are filled with beer tents serving Bavarian beer and playing traditional music, as well as a massive festival ground with carnival rides and food stands galore. Most people come dressed in traditional Bavarian clothing like dirndls and lederhosen to complete the traditional celebration.
Check out one of these many festivals and take a look at our tour dates to see if any of our Classic Journeys tours line up with these events! If they don’t, we’re happy to help you craft a private journey that allows you to attend one of these legendary celebrations.