Traveling is dope but traveling to go to a festival is better. Not only is it something to look forward to when you touchdown it’s also a great way to experience the place you are traveling to all in one spot. There are so many festivals around the globe that there is no way that any one person would be able to attend all of them. That being said, we encourage you all to try. Festivals are a chance to let loose and experience a side of a culture that you may have never known existed. There are more to festivals than music, dancing in the rain and dressing up in your finest boho chic. In fact, Coachella didn’t even make the list there were just too many other interesting festivals to mention. Every country seems to have a festival which is surprising to us seeing as we are only used to the popular ones like Made In America, Bonnaroo, Comic Con and the likes. This list is full of festivals that will give you extreme travel envy. It will make you want to cash in those air miles or spend your student loans because who needs an education anyway, right? What’s that saying about the world being the best teacher?
25 Wakakusa Yamayaki
This festival is held in Nara Japan every 4th Saturday in January. The title translates to ‘The Mountain Roast’. Each year the dead grass atop the hillside of Mount Wakakusayama is set on fire. It draws a big crowd and a wild, fun party takes place as the dead grass burns and lights up the night sky. There are a few theories about how this festival originated, one of those theories is that the fire was initially used to draw away wild boars. It can burn for up to an hour and the best part is that the fire can be seen from anywhere in the city.
24 Sky Lantern Festival
The Sky Lantern Festival takes place in Pingxi Taiwan. It takes place every March and consists of a nighttime release of thousands of lanterns. The festival is meant to celebrate the last calendar day of the Lunar New Year. It is open to whoever wants to come and free tickets are given out to those who want to set off their own lantern. The Pingxi District is the only place in Taiwan where the government allows the release of lanterns. This festival has become so popular that Toronto, Canada is considering having their own. Not to mention, it’s amazing seeing all these lanterns light up the night sky.
23 Rio Carnival
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is one of the more popular and known carnivals around the world. The carnival is held every March from the 1st to the 9th and it isn’t only about the parade. The week-long carnival offers samba classes, after parties, a samba parade, a number of different balls and of course the opportunity to get dressed up in one of the beautiful costumes. It has actually become a big tourist attraction for the city. The only downside is that the city now charges for the tickets to attend the parades. You can get a package that allows you to go to all the parades or just a few.
Another March festival you can’t miss is Holi. It takes place in India and it is nicknamed the festival of colors (or color festival) but the festival is so much more than just colors. It is the celebration of good over evil after the burning and destruction of the demoness named Holika. It marks the end of winter and the beginning of what’s to come for the upcoming spring harvest season. The day is spent smearing colored powered on one another’s faces, partying and dancing under water sprinklers. There are also traditional rituals that take place leading up to the day. One of those rituals is Puja, where people sing and dance around a fire ending it by walking around the fire 3 times.
21 King’s Day
Amsterdam is normally associated with its love for a certain plant. However, the country also has this really cool festival called King’s Day. The festival which used to be called Queen’s Day celebrates the birth of King Willem-Alexander. Everyone dresses up in something orange and walks the streets that host vendors, great food and an abundance of entertainment. It hosts one of the worlds largest flea markets where everything is on SALE. The festival is so big and popular that there is now an app to help people navigate all the fun they are going to have. It has the scoop on what is family friendly, animal-friendly and even the late night parties.
Snowbombing festival takes place in Austria and is described as the “greatest show on snow” according to their marketing team of course. It is actually a music festival that brings artist from all over the world to share their music. One of the best features about this festival is that it is held at a ski resort and has some of the best mountains in the world. When you aren’t dancing and partying you can ski or snowboard while taking in the fresh mountain air. The festival is cashless which means you top up your account (or wristband) before you arrive and use that to purchase food and drinks. This is pretty awesome it’s annoying walking around with a purse while you're trying to party and snowboard.
19 Songkran Water Festival
Songkran is a festival in Thailand that takes place in April to celebrate their New Year. It has been recorded as the countries biggest celebration each year. The festival consists of crowds hurling water at one another. The public holiday attracts tourists from all over the world who want to help the country celebrate. There is no escaping the festival for the 3 days in April no matter where you go the entire country is celebrating. “You’ll be wet for three days in a row, there’s almost no escaping it,” says tourist Kenneth Hart. He runs a tourist company called Thirsty Swagman and hosts tours in particular for this festival.
18 Stars Of The White Night
The Stars of the White Night festival takes place in St. Petersburg, Russia. The name of it is beautiful but what is it? The festival is the largest international music festival in the world and it consists of musicians and performers gathering together to perform classical music pieces. Renowned conductors, dancers, and musicians perform popular opera features and sometimes add a modern twist to it. The festival is held every year in July and draws a huge crowd. If someone is an opera fan or just a lover of the arts this is a festival that shouldn’t be missed.
17 San Vino Wine Fight
The name of this festival sounds amazing. A wine fight? Only if we can catch it with our mouth. The festival takes place in La Rioja above the Spanish Vineyards. People gather and load super soakers with the juiced grapes that weren’t good enough to make the final batch. You can also use buckets and basically anything that can carry the wine. There is also an option to stay on the vineyard grounds in a luxury tent and take advantage of the wine that has actually matured and most likely tastes amazing. The background of this festival is based on the fight between neighboring towns Haro and Miranda de Ebro. In fact, the fight is called La Batalla de Vino de Haro by the locals.
16 Comic Con
Every year in San Diego Comic Con comes to town and with it, a bunch of people dressed up as their favorite characters from a film, video game, online game, and TV shows. Everyone knows what Comic Con is but not everyone has had the opportunity to descend upon the city when Comic Con is in session. Everyone should have at least one chance to feel the energy that emits from San Diego when fans are at their happiest. There is more than just costumes though there are TV show panels, spoilers alerts and chances to meet many celebrities. If you’re into that sort of thing.
15 La Tomatina
The city of Valencia, Spain will run red with the blood of… tomatoes? Every last Wednesday in August, the town of Valencia gets into a huge food fight starring tomatoes. It is literally titled the world’s biggest food fight and it is technically held in Brunol but it’s such a small town that the food fight can sometimes spill over into Valencia and a lot of the participants also stay in Valencia because Brunol has very limited space. The festival used to allow all and any who wanted to participate to show up and show out. The numbers were anywhere between 40,000 to 50,000 in this tiny town. However, the city has now put a ticket system in place and capped the number at 20,000. If you want to play you have to book early.
For 2 weeks starting at the end of September and ending early October, the official Oktoberfest takes place in Munich, Germany although a few places around the world like Toronto has adopted their own version of the festival. In a nutshell, the festival is mainly about beer but there is so much more that takes places that is overshadowed by the drinking. You can visit breweries, vote on the best brews, make a bunch of new friends and hopefully remember them the next day. And there are even some fun, family-friendly festivities. Can’t make it to Munich this year that’s okay the festival has been going on since the 1800s so, it’s safe to say it won’t be going anywhere soon.
13 Hajj To The Mecca
Held at one of the 5 pillars of Islam, Mecca is where people flock to celebrate Hajj. At least once in a Muslims life, they must make the pilgrimage to the city of Islam. The visit to Mecca can take place at any time but it is only considered celebrating Hajj when it is visited during the month of Dhu al-Hijja (the last month of the Islamic year). This celebration is coupled with fasting, however, besides the technicalities involved with Hajj, there are other things to do in the great city of Islam, including trying all the flavorful food and learning about the beautiful architecture and local traditions.
12 Dia De Los Muertes
This is one of the more popular festivals on this list and it only recently started capitalizing off of its popularity. The day is in November this year and it is meant to celebrate the lives of family and friends who have passed away. In 2016, the first ever parade was held for Day of The Dead in Mexico and it was absolutely beautiful. Those who joined the parade had their faces painted like sugar skull candies and walked the streets. The festival was even featured in the James Bond film Spectre. It highlighted the lavish parade and the beauty behind the skulls that people wear so loudly.
11 Loi Krathong
This festival falls on the night of the full moon of the 12th Lunar month. Whoa, what a mouthful, right? It’s celebrated in Thailand and the moon supposedly appears exceptionally bright, beautiful and full. It’s a festival that is closely associated with romance. Couples dress in their best traditional outfits and gather around a body of water (lakes, rivers, canals etc) to pay respect to the goddess of water. This is done by launching a Krathong (pictured above) into the water. “Krathong is a lotus-shaped container made of banana leaves, containing a candle, incense sticks, flower, and coins”. Some people even make wishes.
10 Mevlana Whirling Dervishes
Held in Konya, Turkey, this festival has men dressed in white robes and tall hats and dance around in circles. Why in the world are they doing this? It’s based on the teachings and practices of the 13th-century poet Rumi. It's a 10-day long festival that is meant to expose people to the power of devotion and this is done partially through the art of spinning, the men spin so much as a way to show a mind over matter kind of thing. They supposedly don’t get dizzy after all that spinning so either they are magic or this power of devotion thing is really working.
9 Snow & Ice Festival
Harbin, China makes the most of their snowy season by having their annual Snow & Ice festival beginning in January and ending the beginning of February. It is the largest festival involving snow and ice (we don’t think there are many). The festival features carvings of snow and ice sculptures some of the largest in the world in fact. Some of them tower over 20 feet in height and replicas of full-size buildings made completely of ice. Some of the buildings are even accessible and hold smaller ice sculptures. It’s a marvel to see what creative people can do with ice and snow beside peeing in it or eating it.
This festival involves grease and bodies so let that sink in for a moment. In Baza, Spain hundreds of people cover themselves in grease and race around the city to steal a statue. Yes, they re-enact the stealing of the great statue "Virgen de la Piedad,". The real stealing took place about 500 years ago and it’s really unclear why they are re-enacting it. However, it plays out like a huge game of capture the flag and how can that not be fun? The city is a huge playground. After the game is done, a huge party takes place where people are still covered in grease and just party together
7 Up Helly Aa Fire Festival
Let’s just jump into it. This is a fire festival. The largest fire festival in the world to be exact. The festival is held in Lerwick, Scotland. Townspeople dress up as Vikings and march the street with torches. The festival is in honor of Guizer Jarl and his Jarl Squad it starts with a march than a photo op, a museum visit, lunch and then ultimately the burning of torches. It’s an all day thing in case you couldn’t tell all while dressed as scary AF Vikings. It has been a tradition since 1880 to have this day. Why is it so cool you ask? Well, because they burn a full-scale Viking ship at the end of it. The public isn’t allowed an up-close look at the burning but it’s so big and bright that they can see it from afar.
6 Mardi Gras
Every year on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday Mardi Gras begins. Not many people know about its deep roots in religion because it has truly turned into a giant party full of drinking and debauchery. It begins with a parade that includes precession bands, soulful rhythms and literally anyone can jump into the parade and start walking it with everyone else. The parade ends with everyone drinking and enjoying one another’s company. New Orleans has such a rich history of deep roots, family and religion it’s kind of hard not to feel comfortable when you’re there. Even if someone isn’t a big drinker there is so much to explore when in town for the celebrations.
5 Cooper Hill's Cheese Rolling Festival
Gloucester, England has a freaking cheese rolling festival. It is your best opportunity to watch a bunch of men run down a hill (probably get scraped up) while chasing a wheel of cheese. Let’s be honest, what else is there to do around that time in May? The competition has left some men seriously injured and we have to wonder is it worth it? The wheel of cheese isn't even a big, overgrown one, it isn’t special in any way. In fact, it’s not even cheddar cheese so is it worth fighting for? Of course, it is according to whoever wins that year.
4 Running Of The Bulls
Another popular one on the list is the Running Of The Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. This tradition has been going on for decades every July from the 6th to the 14th. Locals and tourists gather in the streets to risk their lives all for the sake of fun. The bulls are lead into the streets then let go to chase after those who choose to participate. It is for sure an adrenaline rush whether you are watching or participating. Several people are injured each year and yet the following year they still show up for more punishment. There doesn’t seem to be an endgame like a prize or something at the end. So this is purely for enjoyment.
3 Wanderlust Yoga Festival
The Wanderlust Yoga festival sounds like legit heaven. It is held in Hawaii usually at the ending of February to the beginning of March. It is all about the Yoga lifestyle and living a mindful life. People who attend the festival have the opportunity to practice with some of the worlds most beloved teachers and yoga masters. It’s not only regular yoga there is paddleboarding yoga, sunset yoga there are even classes to learn the instrument ukulele. There are opportunities for mingling sessions with other yoga lovers so who knows you could leave there with a significant other. After all, yoga has been bringing people together for years.
2 Boryeong Mud Festival
Mud, mud, mud there is nothing like heading to a beach rolling around in mud and then jumping into the ocean to clean off. This happens every year at the Boryeong Mud Festival. It’s held in Boryeong, South Korea right by the Daecheon Beach. People from all over the world attend the festival it has become the number one Korean festival to visit. It’s been compared to spring break, a nonstop party. The best part is that the mud is full of minerals like germanium and bentonite which has been know to be great for the skin and hair. It runs from July 21st to the 30th every year.
Carnevale is held in Venice, Italy every year it has been a tradition since the 13th century. The Carnevale includes beautiful masks and costume and has people flocking from all over the world to celebrate with them. If anything the costumes alone are a reason to go. The festival itself is a celebration leading up to lent and usually starts in January. During Lent there are no indulgences allowed so, the party is meant to get out all of the dalliances and debauchery before they have to sacrifice it for the 40 days of Lent. So, why the masks? Simple, Venice once outlawed masks so wearing them now is a small sign of rebellion.