Local Culture | Classic Journeys Blog
  • Cherry Blossom Festival

    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&#39;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 <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/dates/" target="_blank">scheduled departure</a>, or craft a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">private journey</a> to explore on your terms! <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/japan-cherry-blossoms-tour/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vy3b&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zZI3" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Cherry Blossom Festival - <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/japan-luxury-tours/" target="_blank">Japan</a></b><br><br>Japan is known around the world for its vibrant cherry blossom festivals that are held all over the country during the spring. Known as <i>Hanami</i> 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 <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/japan-cherry-blossoms-tour/" target="_blank">special edition trip</a> to check out this stunning festival in the spring.<br><br><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vy3b&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zYR8" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>Carnival - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil </b><br><br>Widely considered the &quot;greatest show on earth&quot;, 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. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/thailand" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vy3b&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zYRc" style="height: 332px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Songkran - Thailand </b><br><br>The word &quot;Songkran&quot; is derived from the Sanskrit word for &quot;astrological passage&quot; 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&#39;s biggest water fight. In <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/thailand" target="_blank">Chiang Mai</a> 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. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vy3b&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zYRS" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>St. Patrick&#39;s Day Festival - Dublin, Ireland </b><br><br>We all know the fun of St. Patrick&#39;s Day but have not experienced it to its full potential until visiting Dublin, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland-tours/" target="_blank">Ireland</a> for the holiday&#39;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 <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland-tours/" target="_blank">Guinness</a> on tap!<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vy3b&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zYRm" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Féz Festival of World Sacred Music - Féz, Morocco </b><br><br>The festival of world sacred music has been around for twenty-five years now and is a celebration of the ancient Moroccan city&#39;s rich traditions in the arts. The UN has recognized the festival as one of the world&#39;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. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco-tours/" target="_blank">Fé</a><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco-tours/" target="_blank">z, Morocco</a> 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. <br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/holi-festival-india-travel/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vy3b&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zYHr" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>Holi Festival - <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/india-tours/" target="_blank">Indi</a><a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/india-tours/" target="_blank">a</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/nepal-walking-tours/" target="_blank">Nepal</a> and Pakistan </b><br><br>The ancient Hindu festival is known as &quot;the festival of colors&quot; or &quot;the festival of love&quot; 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 <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/holi-festival-india-travel/" target="_blank">special edition tour to experience the Holi Festival</a> in India. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/spain/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vy3b&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zYRN" style="height: 385px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Semana Santa - Spain</b> <br><br>Semana Santa–the week between Palm Sunday and Easter–is celebrated around the world, but <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/spain/" target="_blank">Spain</a> 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 (<i>pasos</i>) depicting biblical scenes that are carried through the streets. The most famous Semana Santa celebration can be experienced in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/southernspain/" target="_blank">Seville</a>, 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. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/spain/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vy3b&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zYRr" style="height: 316px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>La Tomatina - Valencia, Spain</b><br><br>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, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/spain/" target="_blank">Spain</a>. 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.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/europe/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000001vy3b&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000zYRX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Oktoberfest - Munich, Germany </b><br><br>Oktoberfest in Munich is the world&#39;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.<br><br><br>Check out one of these many festivals and <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/dates/none/none/none/none/" target="_blank">take a look at our tour dates to see if any of our Classic Journeys tours line up with these events!</a> If they don&#39;t, we&#39;re happy to help you craft a private journey that allows you to attend one of these legendary celebrations. 

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  • Artisan in Alberobello, Italy

    Meeting the Makers

    <h3 style="text-align: center;">IN OUT-OF-THE-WAY PLACES,</h3> <h3 style="text-align: center;">DISCOVER THE ANCIENT ART OF DIY</h3> <p>You’ve probably bumped into the “maker movement” lately. Maker is the latest term for a craftsperson or artisan, the kind of folks who use their hands, imaginations and available resources to create. Studios are “makerspaces.” Craft fairs are “maker markets.” At its urban hipster extreme, makers craft pickles from heritage cucumber breeds.</p> <p>I agree that makers matter, and no time is that truer than when I’m traveling and trying to get a handle on local culture. Makers are often the descendants of long lines of people who had to make do. They make for themselves because nobody makes for them. They are linked to the past in ways no folkloric exhibit can convey. I always follow the sound of a clacking loom, the ping of a coppersmith’s hammer or the yeasty breeze wafting from a communal village oven. Makers satisfy my taste for history. When a whisky distillery was founded at <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/scotland/" target="_blank">St. Andrews, Scotland</a>, in 1810, it was already 300 years since barber surgeons took over the trade from monks. Medicinal, I indeed. Watching distillers in action today, these makers are as much alchemists as moonshiners, so-called because they ran their stills at night to avoid the Malt Tax of 1725. Sit down for a classic nosing session, and the history overwhelms your senses.<br><img alt="Man drinking whiskey in Scotland" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z8Tq&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lTj" style="height: 375px; width: 500px;"></img><br>And did I mention that it tastes pretty fine, too? Makers show me what matters. There’s a weaver in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">Otavalo, Ecuador</a>, who is one of the last to still use a backstrap loom to weave wool that he hand-dyes with colors extracted from cochineal beetles and achiote seeds. A blanket the color of raw wool would be just as warm. But his work calls into the present Inca spiritual symbols, and you get that hardscrabble Andeans have the same human need for color and beauty that we all do, and that it will find a way to express itself.<br><img alt="Ecuadorian textiles" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z8Tq&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lTo" style="height: 375px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Most of all, makers make me feel at home. Born from everyday necessity, their skills are often practiced where they live — in the kitchen, the little studio at the back of the cottage or the water-powered mill by the barn. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">In Sardinia</a>, Giovanna took us into her kitchen to make a batch of carasau bread. Baked twice, it’s sturdy (and delicious), and you understand why it’s the carb-of-choice for shepherds. Outside Rovinj on <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria?utm_campaign=meet+the+makers&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog/" target="_blank">Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula</a>, I’d have been happy enough to meet Sandi and his family and see his olive oil mill in action. But no. “You must come into the house for a taste.” And that’s the kind of invitation you must never turn down if you want to feel anchored in the places where you travel rather than just drifting by.<br><img alt="People making pizza" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z8Tq&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lTt" style="height: 375px; width: 500px;"></img></p> <h3><br>MAKING IT REAL</h3> <p>On every <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">Classic Journey</a>, our local guides introduce you to their friends who do it themselves. The makers and bakers, weavers and potters, the whiskey distillers and vintners — the people whose traditional trades and inherited skills define local culture in the most personal terms.<br><img alt="Group at a cooking instruction in Istria, Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z8Tq&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lTy" style="height: 375px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p>

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  • Group dining in Italy

    Appetite for Al Fresco

    <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/culinary/" target="_blank"><b>IT’S THE SEASON FOR FEASTING OUT IN THE FRESH AIR</b></a></h3>   <h3><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">SHEPHERD’S SPREAD </a>– </b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">SARDINIA &amp; CORSICA</a></h3> <p>Tending a flock of sheep on the sunny slopes of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Sardinia’s Scala Pradu</a> can’t be easy. But at least those shepherds you meet on the walk eat well. Your lunch is their lunch, and you sit down together to a typical meal of pecorino cheese from the sheep baa-ing by the trail, sheets of crispy flat bread called pane carasu, cold meats, tomatoes, melon and wine. Life is simple, and oh so good.<br><br><img alt="Flock of sheep" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z8fa&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lXl" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank">INCA PICNIC</a> – </b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank">PERU &amp; MACHU PICCHU</a></h3> <p>In the mountain-rimmed <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank">Sacred Valley</a>, Inca civilization is always close — and never nearer than when you dig into the quinoa at a picnic overlooking centuries-old ruins. As alpaca graze nearby and the Urubamba River flows past, you graze through a buffet of local specialties, served improbably with tablecloths, china and silver. In your glass: a chicha sour, made with the fermented corn liquor that’s been a Peruvian stable for centuries. Very civilized indeed.<br><br><img alt="Guests having picnic in Peru" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z8fa&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lXq" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank">LAZY LUNCH</a></b> – <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank">TUSCANY &amp; THE CINQUE TERRE</a></h3> <p>As if <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank">Tuscan</a> food isn’t fabulous enough. Eat it on the terrace at a 15th-century castle with the sun on your back and a light breeze rustling through the grapevines and multiply the flavors by a thousand. Massimo greets you with a home-cooked lunch. Nothing fussy, everything incredibly good and, of course, It would be wrong to refuse a glass or two of his homegrown wine. Now you understand why Italians are famous for taking hours over the midday meal.<br><br><img alt="Group of people eating dinner at table" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z8fa&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lXv" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></p>

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