There are so many spectacular destinations on our Planet and if we want, we can travel all year round. However, some sights and experiences are all about perfect timing. We have to be in the right place at the right time to witness these dramatic and rare events. As a traveler, it is rewarding to plan your trip around one of the best festivals in the world
Everyone loves a celebration, and festivals are the way for people to express and celebrate significant community events. It might be a cultural festival, music festival, food festival, season festival, or nature festival. It is definitely worth your while to plan your vacation in a way that you can enjoy these extraordinary and vivid festivals. It helps you to mingle with the locals, experience their culture and have a fun-filled vacation. These festivals are seen to be believed and would definitely spice up your vacation, so why not add them to your bucket list?
Rio Carnival, Brazil
Undeniably the biggest carnival in the World, Rio Carnival attracts lakhs of tourists from all over the world. It is a nonstop mind-blowing extravaganza of pulsating music, colorful parades, quirky costumes, samba dance, and live performances. Over two million people hit the streets every single day and the whole city is alive and buzzing. Each neighborhood hosts a party and people dance their way across streets. The highlight is the Samba parade held at Sambodrome arena where top 12 Samba schools dance and compete with each other in elaborate costumes
The Carnival is held to mark the end of the long hot Brazilian summer. The ostentatious spectacle lasts for 5 days and is held in February end. The whole of Rio is on holiday and one is left with no option but to take part in the festivities. Rio Carnival is your chance to experience the flamboyant Brazilian culture and be swept in the euphoria of the grandest show on Earth.
Place: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Dates: 21st Feb – 26th Feb, 2020
La Tomatina, Bunol
One of the craziest festivals you can witness, La Tomatina takes place in the last week of August every year. The quirky festival is attended by participants from all parts of the world with attendees crossing the 50,000 number. To keep the fun festival under control, participants are nowadays kept below 20,000 by issuing tickets. It is said that people of the city had thrown tomatoes at city councilmen to show their anger. They enjoyed it so much that they repeated it every year amongst themselves and it turned into a festival.
In this giant messy food fight, over 100 tons of squishy tomatoes are bought in the town in huge trucks and emptied in the town square. The overripe tomatoes are flung, plonked, squashed and splattered in an hour-long battle. At the end of the event, the town and the participants are painted blood red. You can enjoy the gyrating after-party once you have cleaned up in the river. The massive free-for-all event is the culmination of week-long celebrations which includes parades, fireworks, and various competitions. Great opportunity to enjoy the Spanish culture.
Place – Bunol, Spain Date – Last Wednesday of August, 26th August 2020 Cost – 30 EURO
Owing to its rich culture and diverse religious beliefs, India has numerous festivals that are celebrated in different parts of the country. One of the most popular and traditional festivals is Holi. The Festival of colors is a celebration of onset of spring and the triumph of good over evil. The festival is a visual treat with people smearing ‘Gulal’ (bright colored powder) on each other’s faces and throwing water balloons on passersby. They sing, dance, attack everyone with water guns and throw buckets of water at each other. The festival is played amongst strangers, friends and even foes, forgetting all the old grievances.
Holi is celebrated all over India in myriad ways but the spirit remains the same. However, one must visit Mathura and Vrindavan for a vibrant and traditional experience. The festival is said to be inspired by the antics of Lord Krishna who drenched the village girls with color and water. The day before Holi, also known as ‘Choti Holi’, a bonfire is lit and the effigy of the demoness Holika is burnt signifying the end of evil. During ‘Holika Dahan’ people walk around the bonfire praying, singing and dancing.
Place – All over India Day – After Full Moon in March, 10th March 2020 .
Songkran Water Festival, Thailand
Thai New Year is celebrated every year in a fun-filled unique way. Songkran is a three-day festival in Thailand where the whole of the country gets busy in water fights using water prays, buckets, jet sprays, and even elephant trunks. Traditionally, the water poured over deities was collected and sprinkled over worshippers to purify and ward off bad luck. But over the years it evolved into a giant water-fight. People of all ages roam the street with their water weapons ready to drench anyone in sight – strangers and acquaintances alike. It is totally a fun time to be in Thailand.
Like most religious festivals in the world, Songkran has also become more of an exuberant and jovial festival. Though religious fervor is still attached to it and there are processions, performances, and other religious celebrations. Around 4 million tourists land in Thailand to be part of this national-scale water fight. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, and Phuket are some of the best places to enjoy the Songkran Water Festival.
Place – All over Thailand Time 13th – 15th April 2020
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, China
For one month every year, Harbin becomes a wonderland with majestic and amazing snow sculptures built across this north-eastern province of China. Harbin festival is the biggest Ice and Snow Festival in the world where around 220,000 cubic meters of snow and ice are used to create awe-inspiring ice sculptures. Snow world. Ice palaces, Ice trains, Great Wall, are some of the massive structures which are built depending on the year’s theme. The height of the exhibits sometimes reaches more than 40 meters. The structures are highlighted and animated with lights and lasers magnifying the scale and design of the exhibits.
The festival attracts around 15 million visitors and artists annually. Besides the massive structures, you can enjoy dog sledding, ice hockey, skiing competitions, and the spectacular Ice Lantern festival. So, if you are not enamoured by slug-fest like Holi, Songkran, and La Tomatina, you can head to Harbin to experience this extravagant spectacle. That is, if you don’t mind the freezing temperature of -30 degrees. Come prepared for the teeth-chattering cold.
Place – Harbin, China Time – Starts Jan 5th, 2020 SSnow
Tomorrowland Music Festival, Boom, Belgium
Are you a music lover? Start planning a trip to Boom, the Belgium town, to enjoy the biggest and most loved dance music festival in the world. Tomorrowland Music Festival is an Electric Dance Music Festival which has about 1000 artists performing in 18 theaters over two weekends. The musical bonanza attracted 4 lakh visitors in 2019. Around 2 million people had registered from all over the globe and only 4 lakh lucky people got the tickets.
The city of Boom looks festive with elaborate stage productions, insane fireworks, enchanting décor, buzzing beaches, and fascinating performances. The grand music festival is your chance to witness some scintillating entertainment, gorge on the lavish food and dance your heart out. Visiting Boom to experience this musical extravaganza should be in the bucket list of all music fanatics.
Place – Boom, Belgium Time – July 17th – July 26th, 2020
The festivals planned and executed by humans are mind-blowing but what about festivals celebrated by nature? Nothing can beat these natural phenomena which happen every year during specific periods. Let us look at the best of these nature’s spectacles which are celebrated and cherished by people across the globe.
Cherry Blossom Festival, Japan
If you can manage to visit visit Japan in March/April, you are in for a visual treat. During spring every year, Japan’s Cherry trees sprout to full bloom for less than a week and the sight is surreal. Forests, riverbeds, canals, streets, fields all are covered with the pink blooms. The Japanese still follow the age-old tradition of ‘hanami’ (cherry blossom viewing) picnic and parties that are held under the blooming trees.
The Cherry Blossom season, known as ‘Sakura Matsuri’, signals the beginning of Spring. Most places in Japan witness the stunning flower display, but the best places to see them are in Tokyo, Kochi, Kyoto, and Osaka. The season starts from February and stretches till early May in colder regions like Hokkaido. The Cherry Blossom season is unpredictable and keeps changing every year. It is better to follow forecasts and keep the itinerary flexible so that you are able to view this breathtaking display.
Place – Japan Time – March/Apr
The Wildebeest Migration, Kenya & Tanzania
A phenomenal wildlife spectacle that takes places every year is the Serengeti Wildebeest Migration. Around 1.5 million wildebeest along with hordes of zebras, gazelles, and impalas migrate from Serengeti in Tanzania to Masai Mara in Kenya in search of water and green pastures. The animals make a long and endless journey of over 3000 kilometers from north to south. Their movement attracts predators like lions, cheetahs and crocodiles and lots of mammals fall prey to them. It is a great opportunity for travelers to witness an amazing sight where only the fittest survives.
The best time to see the Wildebeest Migration is between July and August when the animals cross the crocodile-infested River Mara in large numbers. It has been aptly referred as ‘the greatest wildlife show on Earth’. This is one experience that should be in the bucket-list of every wildlife lover.
Place – Kenya and Tanzania Time – July/August
Tulip Festival, Netherlands
Another spring festival that is worth visiting is the Tulip Festival. Netherland’s flower tulip is stunning and you can imagine the panorama when the huge flower fields became a blanket of colorful tulips. One can view this picturesque spectacle of blooming tulips at more than 85 locations in Amsterdam – in the gardens of hotels, museums, notable buildings, and public areas. The bright-colored blooms in shades of orange, yellow, pink and red with their fresh aroma are striking and ravishing.
The best place to admire the blooming flower is in Keukenhof Tulip Gardens which is just 30 minutes away from the center of Amsterdam. In the beautiful flower park, 7 million flower bulbs are planted across 32 hectares of fields. Tourists from all over the world reach Netherlands in April to see this breathtaking vision of endless tulip fields.
Place – Netherlands Time – April 1st – April 30th, 2020
Northern Light, Arctic Circle
Watching Northern lights is one experience that people wait for years to witness. Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is a natural phenomenon that occurs when eclectically charged particles emitting from Sun collide with oxygen and nitrogen as they enter the Earth’s surface. Electric shades of blue, pink, green and violet shimmering across the black sky provide an ethereal experience. The natural phenomenon can be viewed in multiple locations like Iceland, Norway, Alaska, and Finland between late September to late March. Visibility depends on pollution levels, precipitation and the clarity of the dark sky.
You may plan endlessly, but there is no guarantee you will witness this surreal spectacle. But the sight is so rare and breathtaking that it is worth taking a risk and planning a trip to chase the elusive lights soaring across the sky.
Place – Arctic Circle Time – Late September – Late March
Planning and execution of these festival vacations is not an easy job. Prices for hotels and flights would be touching the roof, crowd and traffic would be insane and you would be spending a fortune. But you may be fortunate to witness a spectacle that you will cherish in years to come. If you are interested in some mysterious locations, check this out.