World Best Festival
The world is a stage and we are all celebrating life! Celebrating life through festivals, colours and joy. Festivals that celebrate culture, music, wine, religion, nature. Every corner of the world has their own way of celebrating their festivals. But believe me, each one of them is worth an experience. But since it is almost Impossible to be a part of every festival across the globe let’s go through a rollercoaster ride of 23 most fascinating festivals of the world.
BURNING MAN (BLACK ROCK DESERT, NAVADA)–
Every summer in the North Western Navada Desert there are days and nights of a complete adrenaline rush. You are taken aback by the thrill and magnificence of this festival.
The story of how it started is quite interesting and I must say explains a sense of freedom. It was in 1986 when Larry Harvey and his friend Jerry James created an eight-foot-tall improvised wooden figure and dragged it to San Francisco’s Baker Beach. It was an on the Summer Solstice. But the real fun and frolic began when they lit it on fire. People around became curious and a crowd of around 20 people watched it burn. And this marked the beginning of this very magnificent festival.
It may have started with a crowd of just 20 people but today thousands and thousands of people come to attend this festival and once the figure is burnt to ashes they return back home. The figure grows in size each year. It can be as huge as 105 feet. Dance, music, lights and extravagant costumes make this festival all lit up. People wear crazy costumes exploring their experimental creativity. It’s like days of freedom and exploration. If you get a chance to be there you would see how the lights and music and all this extravaganza makes the desert nights look so heavenly.
It takes place from the last Sunday of August up to the Labor Day. Once the huge giant is burnt the festivities come to an end and the desert returns to its normal life.
CARNIVAL (RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL)
The ‘World’s Greatest Carnival’ where the entire city of Rio De Janeiro consisting of around 5 million people is on the streets for 40 days, leaving behind everything. Doesn’t it sound crazy and big! And so it is with 5 million people on the streets, enjoying music, dance and festivities which are a break from everything.
Historically, this Carnival is a religious celebration and the world’s biggest historical celebration. The festival takes place in February or March, over the 5 days preceding the Catholic season of Lent, which starts 40 days before Easter. It is like celebrating the end of the Brazilian hot summer.
You will see nothing like this, where five million people are on the streets dancing to the tunes if music or let’s say just dancing like these 40 days are the escape from the real world and half-naked dancers giving the festival a different level of liberty.
Not just this, but there is more to the festival. Colourful costumes are worn by more than 70 samba schools, and they enter into a competition for fame and cash prizes.
The festival marks it ends with a competition between 12 finalist schools and more than 90,000 people spend huge amounts of money to watch this spectacle. It is the last 2 days of the festival that are filled with thrill through these competitions at Rio’s remarkable Sambadrome. There are annual themes of costumes for these competitions and to see this parade is like watching an all new level of creativity and magnificence.
This a festival that you must visit if you wish to explore how the world turns into so much harmony and madness all at one time.
HARBIN INTERNATIONAL ICE & SNOW SCULPTURE FESTIVAL (HARBIN, CHINA)
The winters in China are bitter and cold and to make the most of it China celebrates it with a festival that is unique in its own way- The International Ice & Snow Festival. The festival officially starts on January 5.
Harbin is as cold as you can imagine. The temperatures fluctuate around 1.8 ºF and can go as low as -31 ºF. This is due to the cold winter winds blowing over Siberia, in Northeastern China.
You must be wondering why someone would like to attend this freezing cold festival. It is because Harbin has the world’s largest ice sculptures and the entire city indulges in these celebrations. There are two main exhibition areas: The area where you would find the most enormous sculptures is the Sun Island is a recreation area along the Songhua River.
You enter into the world of icy fairy tales when you see the full sized ice buildings made from 2 to 3-foot ice blocks at the Ice and Snow World that opens at night. These ice sculptures are illuminated and the light glitters through the ice.
Other activities that happen during the festivity include alpine skiing, touring ice lantern exhibitions in various local parks and other sports. While those who want to experience something thrilling and literally breathtaking can go for swimming in the river’s frigid waters. Seriously, this festival is another level of coldness.
LA TOMATINA (VALENCIA, SPAIN)
One of the oldest food festivals in the world which dates back to 1945, La Tomatina is a crazy food fight and fun festival. This festival has a very interesting history prior to its ban from 1950- 1957 which was removed as the locals protested in their own unique way. They marched with a coffin with a huge tomato inside it as bands played a funeral march. What is more interesting is its origin. People say that the whole thing started when some local boys joined a parade alongside musicians, “Giants” on stilts, and “Big Head” figures. The rough boys knocked one of the performers off. He became enraged and a vendor’s vegetable stand fell victim to the chaos until the police arrived to break it up.
The ban was uplifted after the protest and today La Tomatina has become one of the world’s most famous festivals. It may not be a custom but it has now become a tradition for the people of Spain.
I would strongly recommend you to attend this one and if you go, remember some tips- Squash the tomatoes before throwing, do not throw anything hard that might hurt anyone, Stay safe, away from the tomato trucks and do not rush beyond the end. When it’s over, it’s over. Follow the signals and rules and enjoy the festival without hurting yourself or anyone else.
MARDI GRAS (NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA)
Mardi Gas is a festival of New Orleans and it is a festival of partying and dancing and enjoying your New Years in an all new different way, The festival starts from the end of December to early February.
Also known as Fat Tuesday, is the USA version of Carnival. But there is some debate over who started the festival. Whether it was NOLA or Mobile, Alabama. Whoever did it first, the point is that New Orleans does its best. The celebration is an every year activity on the day before Ash Wednesday, the festivities last for months.
This festival is more like a sophisticated and extravagant gathering. It begins with social events in November. You will celebrate your Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve with private balls and parades if you get a chance to be there. It’s not just New Years but more private balls throughout January and early February.
The best amongst the Balls are the Mom’s Ball and Orpheuscapade Ball. It isn’t easy to be a part of this festival but money can take you to places you have never imagined. So, give it a shot. And if you are a music lover, check out the annual Galactic concert at the world-famous Tipitina’s on Lundi Gras (the day before Mardi Gras).
Plan what you want to see on the day of the parade. Because you will be ushered with Beer, Boobs and lot more Booze. Krewe of Muses Parade, the Rex & Zulu Parade, and the Krewe of St. Anne and Krewe of Julu Parades are supposed to be the highlights.
DIA DE LOS MUERTOS (MEXICO)
This is more like a holiday festival but the most celebrated holiday across Mexico. It is so renowned and important that it was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.
The festivities begin on October 31 up to November 2. This is also known as the Day of the Dead in most English speaking countries. It is called so because this festival marks a celebration and tribute to the ancestors who left the world to left behind a legacy of spiritualism and motivate and guide them to continue their own spiritual journey. This festival became so famous that it is also a part of the 2017 Pixar film Coco.
To honour the ancestors, families build private altars in their homes, known as ofrendas. On top of them, they’ll put photos of the dead, Calaveras (a.k.a. sugar skulls) and Aztec Marigolds. They also visit their loved ones’ graves, leaving these gifts and other beloved possessions as a tribute to the deceased. To make it even more special they add the favourite beverages and food of their ancestors to it.
Every region has its own specific way of celebrating. Some celebrate it with Specific celebrations like lively parades, while others like to keep it calm and pious with religious overtones
KING’S DAY (NETHERLANDS)
More than a festival this is an honour a national dignitary on his birthday and Netherland knows how to do it well. This is more like an official government ceremony. But the magnificence of it makes it a world famous festival.
The festival is celebrated in the month of April in a favourable climatic environment. It started with celebrating the birth of Queen Beatrix and was known as the Queen’s day until 2013. But with the crowning of her son Willem-Alexander, the holiday became known as King’s Day, or Koningsdag. Now officially being celebrated on April 27.
Due to the amazing weather, the Dutch can take the liberty of wearing their loud orange attire and enjoy a few drinks without having to worry about the weather.
Not just this, the festival is also marked by a massive, country-wide flea market. It is a very well organized festival, you have to see it to believe it.
KRAMPUSNACHT (CENTRAL EUROPE)
Christmas is a huge celebration across the western countries and Krampusnacht is the most creepy and unthinkable Christmas tradition practised and celebrated across the globe.
Krampus is a hellish demon that scares the kids and haunts Central Europe during the most awaited Christmas holidays. We can say it is the opposite of what we feel for Santa. Imagine an insane devil with stag horns and matted fur all in chains. And the story goes that he kidnaps children and eats them later. Sure, if you were a kid, you would be scared as hell.
December 5 is the devilish night of Krampusnacht (Krampus Night) The night before the Feast of St. Nicholas. While Santa comes on his new horse open sleigh to share gifts with little girls and boys, Krampus comes to punish the bad ones with coal and/or swats them with bundles of birch branches.
It’s a mystery as to where Krampus came from. But some historians suggest he may be a survivor from the region’s pagan past, demonized by the Catholic Church.
According to the customs it is necessary to offer a Krampus some schnapps. Just to keep him out of your dreams and have a good night sleep. It is indeed one of the most interesting yet creepy celebrations I came across.
The festival marks the celebration of the traditional New Year celebrated on April 13 in parts of India, China, and much of Southeast Asia.
It is traditionally a simple and silent affair but holds high traditional value. The celebration lasts through April 15. It is considered as a phase of change or transformation.
Mornings begin with visiting local Buddhist temples and offer food to the monks. As a symbol of purification, the statues of Buddha are poured with water by the elderly. It is also a way of paying tribute to the elders. It is like the beginning of a new path and people clean their houses and wear new clothes. It is that time of the year when everyone meets and celebrates together.
The interesting part is not just the traditions but the parades and beauty contests that are organized in certain regions. While in the other regions the celebrations are loud with firecrackers on April 13. They believe this would cast off all the evil from their lives and would give them a fresh start to a new year.
But the festival is most wonderfully celebrated in Thailand, especially Chiang Mai. It is the water fight in Thailand that makes this festival so popular in Asia. Most of the streets are closed off to traffic and packed with young people. Water balloons are thrown on each other and almost it seems like the city is drenched.
ST. PATRICK’S FESTIVAL (DUBLIN, IRELAND)
Though this festival marks the celebration of honoring the death of the patron saint of Ireland. It is one of the largest and more rough celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day. It is the most appropriate place for the celebration of St. Patrick’s Festival.
Saint Patrick had an interesting life history. He was kidnapped at the age of sixteen and taken to Gaelic Ireland. He worked there as a shepherd for 6 years. After which he was able to escape and returned back home. Having born in a religious family he became a priest after his return and became a priest and returned to Ireland, where he converted many pagans to Christianity.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the most countries and is a national festival in many of them. While it is a day of celebration for many, we say it’s a must to experience it in Dublin, Ireland.
Traditionally people wear green clothes and shamrocks (which the Saint used to explain the Holy Trinity). Public parades and lively music and dancing (known as a ceilidh) are organized. It is a free day in Ireland where there are no restrictions on eating and drinking and so they enjoy it to the fullest.
BONNAROO MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL (MANCHESTER, TENNESSEE)
With more than ten stages of music and 150 unbelievable performances, this festival is one of the best and most extravagant music festivals. Although it is not as huge as Coachella or as iconic as Lollapalooza but the thousands of acres of Tennessee nature and thousands of people, music, artists it is once in a lifetime experience.
Sustainable development and initiatives are also the highlights of the event. and $1 from every ticket goes to eco-friendly efforts. Other initiatives include Planet ROO(a heaven for environmental consciousness), Clean Vibes Trading Post etc.
The festival is organized every June on a 700-acre farm, south of Nashville. It is a festival where you can get a chance to listen to the world’s most famous artists like Eminem, Beastie Boys, Beach Boys and like anyone and everyone you have ever wished for.
Not just music but art and creativity are also at its peak in this festival You can find arts and crafts, food and drinks, a comedy tent, cinema tent, Ferris wheel, silent disco, parades, and yoga. Late night parties, celebrity appearances add to the flavor and tempo of the festival.
FES FESTIVAL OF WORLD SACRED MUSIC (FES, MOROCCO)
This festival is not just about music but about traditional music, It is a way of keeping the traditional music of Morroco alive. More than music what adds to it is the rich Morrocan traditional art and spirituality.
This festival was first celebrated in 1994 in Fes. The event has seen a significant growth over the last 24 years. It attracts more than 100,000 people every year making it a huge festival where culture is celebrated.
The festival comprises of 60 different shows and concerts. It is an exhibition to the traditions and is the stage for international icons such as Joan Baez, Björk, Patti Smith, Salif Keita, and Ravi Shankar. Not just this, there are also Sufi performances in the festival that are a highlight for most of its Asian audience. This festival is an inter cultural exchange between countries and that is what makes it so special.
The concerts take place in venues of ancient cultural heritage and provide the festival a rich and royal ambience.
This is one of the most extravagant and out of the box music festivals. WOMAD (World Of Music, Arts & Dance) was founded in 1980 by Peter Gabriel and a team that included Artistic Director Thomas Brooman and influential concert promoter Martin Elbourne (who also books the Glastonbury Festival).
The festival focused on bringing the world together and connecting it through music, art and dance. It is a magnificent showcase of the belief of how music and art can bring people from different communities together under one roof.
This lead to what I call out of the box about this festival. It collaborates the world class artists together like when Echo & the Bunnymen played with the Drummers of Burundi in 1982, and when Mali’s Tinariwen played with two members of TV on the radio in 2010.
They also offer workshops for both children and adults on various diverse topics. How can we forget food, cuisines from different parts of the world? Also, it would be amazing to taste the cuisines made by the musicians themselves.
WORLD SACRED SPIRIT FESTIVAL (JODHPUR, INDIA)
Rajasthan, India, where this festival takes place is a land of rich culture and traditions. To see the beauty of Jodhpur is once in a lifetime experience. The festival takes place at an archaeological beauty, the ancient Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur
Its archaeological and artistic beauty makes it the best location for a music festival like the one it hosts.
It is a fort that was built in 1460 and located on a hill 410 feet above the city. It is one of India’s largest forts and includes an impressive museum. It has massive empty spaces and courtyards.
The World Sacred Spirit Festival, takes place in mid February. It is a three day festival. The event was formerly known as the World Sufi Festival.
From melodious Lithuanian harp music and the traditional Italian folk songs of Sardinia to Andalusian Sufi songs of Morocco and Duduk (a type of clarinet), music from Armenia, music from North Africa, Europe, and Asia are all featured in this festival.
It is not easy for the western readers to understand the terms like Qawwali and Sufi music but to hear them is like entering an all new realm of music.
OUIDAH INTERNATIONAL VOODOO FESTIVAL (OUIDAH, BENIN)
The Vodoo religion is prevalent in western Africa– including Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togoot. It is believed that the vodun spirits are deities governing both man and nature. They are in the nature.
The Ouidah International Voodoo Festival is the world’s largest gathering of Vodun practitioners and devotees and is held every year in the month of January in Benin
This festival is not with those with a weak heart as some of the customs may be heart wrenching to watch. However, this festival highlights the beliefs of one of the most misunderstood religion.
The festival is a showcase of vivid cultural things like masks, clothes and carvings. Women are all dressed in vibrant colors. Also, you will see the tradition of sacrificing animals in this festival.
Not many white people attend this festival of the fear of being mistreated which may stand true.
HOLI FESTIVAL (INDIA, NEPAL, AND PAKISTAN)
Holi is a religious festival of colours practices primarily in India, but is also celebrated in Nepal and Pakistan as they share same boundaries; they also share some same beliefs. It is celebrated in late February or March.
This day is a very important day in the Hindu mythology. A day prior to the celebration of throwing colours over each other, a holy fire is compiled a month before and is set on fire a night before. This is called Holika Dahan. This marks the burning of evil and the victory of the good over the bad.
It is celebrated all over India in different ways. Some throw colors at each other, some throw colorful flowers. It is a day that marks that all the rivalries must be forgotten and everyone must come together to celebrate.
There is also a traditional drink Bhang that is consumed on this day by the men mostly. It may cause a feeling of drowsiness so be careful if it’s your first time!
MEVLÂNA FESTIVAL (KONYA, TURKEY)
This festival marks the death of a 13th century Saint Mevlana also called Rumi. He was a Persian poet, theologian, Islamic scholar, and Sufi mystic. This festival is a festival of believers that believe in music as a way of connecting with God. It is organized on December 10 up to 17th of the month.
The festival is celebrated with Whirling Dervishes dancing and music through which the devotees connect to Rumi’s eternal spirit. Even after 750 years after his death, he is still the best selling poet in the US.
It is believed that on 17th September Rumi united with Allah and that marks the end of the festival. All these days the devotees dance to their music and twirl their flowing white robes as they twirl in time with the music.
Over a million people attend this festival each year.
SEMANA SANTA (SPAIN)
This festival is celebrated in the Holy Week– the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. It is celebrated throughout much of the Christian world. Semana Santa is that time of the year in Spain when people march in colourful robes that hide their faces. They carry candles and crosses, some even walk barefoot tied in chains. Although this is one way of celebrating. It is celebrated in different ways in different countries. It largely centres on the parade-like processions of Catholic brotherhoods.
What s the centre of attraction of this festival are the decorations. The parades have artful sculptures that depict the sorrows of Virgin Mary. Some also depict the passion of Christ. These sculptures are called as Pasos. The marches are also accompanied with music that makes it a spectacle.
VESAK (COLOMBO, SRI LANKa)
This is one of the most important festivals of Sri Lanka or as one can say of the Buddhists, It marks the birth, the spiritual enlightenment and the death of Lord Buddha. This is a festival for all the Buddhists across the world but the best celebrations are seen in Sri Lanka.
This festival sees some great art forms. Massive structures are designed covered with colourful lights and paintings. They are a depiction of the Jataka tales and carry a story in their art.
(Vesak kuudu) light lanterns are hung outside the houses in Sri Lanka to mark the light of the Buddha, Free food and drinks are served at the festival and people from all over the world come and visit this cultural and traditional extravaganza.
CTM Festival ( Berlin)
The festival is celebrated in the month of January and February in Berlin. It is the best visual and music festival in Berlin. It is a music festival with a special focus on the electronic and digital culture. Every year the festival experiments with its music trends and so is a favourite for the music lovers.
This ten-day festival marks visual light installations, sound shows, and electronic raves and so has grasped the attention of people across the globe. Music lovers must surely have a gala time at this festival. It has a decent number of the crowd but what is unique is the music here.
This is the most famous electronic dance music festival that and occurs at Boom, Belgium every year. It is one of the most popular music festivals in the world. The tickets for this two-week long festival sells out within minutes.
The first time this festival was organized in 2005 and since then it has been the most awaited event of the year across the world. Thousands and thousands of people attend this festival each year and the number has only been increasing.
David Guetta, Nervo, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Tiësto, Hardwell, Carl Cox, Paul van Dyk, Tensnake, Laidback Luke, Brodinski, Juanma Tudon, Mike Matthews, De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, and dozens of others performers have performed and the number is huge.
It is a festival of unlimited music dance, drinks and all that you can imagine.
ULTRA MUSICAL FESTIVAL
Ultra Music Festival is named after the 1997 Depeche Mode album, Ultra. It was first organized by Russell Faibisch and Alex Omes in 1999. It is a world famous electronic music festival. Lakhs of people attend this festival each year with the most famous music artists in the world. It takes place in March in the city of Miami, Florida.
It has record sales of its tickets each year. Benny Benassi, Cedric Gervais, DubVision, Fischerspooner, Jauz, Modestep, Oliver Heldens, and many many others were a part of the 2018 festival. If you are insane about electronic music, you can’t miss this one.
THE HOUNG PAGOLDA FESTIVAL (VIETNAM)
This festival is celebrated over a period of 3 months in the limestone Houng Tich Mountains. The Houng Pagoda, also known as the Perfume Pagoda in English, is the pivot of one of the most important Buddhist festivals in Vietnam. Thousands of pilgrims come to attend this festival by foot and by boat. It embarks on a spiritual journey towards Houng Tich Cave in search of blessings of love, prosperity and even fertility.
The festival provides you with a unique experience of the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people. With amazing local delicacies, shows, and activities. The temples are decorated beautifully with flowers. Once been there, one cannot return without being awestruck by the culture and tradition.