19 Jun 19
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12 of the best festivals in the world, month by month
January: Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China
Next Festival Dates: December 25th – February 25th 2020
One of the top festivals around the world, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is more than just ice and snow. Because along with four theme parks to explore, there are winter activities, entertainment and events. Understanding what each theme park offers is important when attending the festival. The Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo is a theme park for snow sculptures. Harbin Wanda Ice Lantern World, and Zhaolin Park Ice Lantern Fair are theme parks for ice lanterns. And Harbin Ice and Snow World is a theme park filled with snow and ice sculptures, buildings, activities and shows.
Festival Tips: Harbin Ice and Snow World hosts the ice sculpture competition, so a recommendation is to visit that theme park first. After that the next best attractions the city boasts of are its winter sports, including skiing. And its Russian architecture, food and drink, and the Siberian Tiger Park. It’s busy during the festival so booking tickets in advance is recommended.
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February: Rio de Janeiro Carnival, Brazil
Next Festival Dates: February 21st – February 29th 2020
Rio de Janeiro Carnival is world famous and so deserves a place on this list of the top festivals around the world. Carnival consists of a number of pre-carnival events, four different parades, carnival balls, themed dances, lots of samba and street parties. All spread out in the days leading up to the carnival and during its eight-day life.
The parades take place in a purpose-built stadium called the ‘Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí‘. Here you will witness the spectacular talents of the samba school dancers with their highly energetic samba moves and extravagant costumes. The ‘Samba Schools of the Special Group’ is the parade that is not to be missed. These are considered the elite, coming ahead of over 200 Samba Schools in the Rio de Janeiro area.
Festival Tips: When not witnessing the parades, head along to one of the many carnival balls around the city. Tickets range in price, with the better balls featuring live bands that play through the night. The most sophisticated carnival ball can be found at the black-tie Copacabana Palace Hotel. If balls aren’t your thing then try one of the many dances. And if you’d rather party in the street then you’ll be happy to know they take place throughout the city and festival, the most organised being the Cinelândia square street party.
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March: Holi Festival Mumbai, India
Next Festival Dates: March 10th 2020
Holi Festival is an ancient Hindu festival that is celebrated to welcome spring. It’s celebrated in India and Nepal, but has spread in popularity across Asia, and across the world. The festival is about new beginnings and each coloured powder used has a different meaning. For example red symbolises love and fertility, while the colour green symbolises spring. The festival is usually a two-day event that starts on the night before Holi with the burning of the Holika, otherwise known as Holika Dahan. Holi Festival can get pretty wild on the streets of Mumbai as friends and strangers alike cover each other in coloured powder and water.
Festival Tips: The coloured powder used during Holi is non-toxic and washes off easily from your skin and clothes but it’s probably best not to wear your favourite clothes. It’s not uncommon for alcohol to be consumed throughout the day and so partying can get a little messy. The best advice is to join in the fun until noon and then enjoy the rest of Holi at your hotel – many hotels organise their own celebrations.
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April: Coachella, Colorado Desert, California
Next Festival Dates: April 10 – 12th and April 17 – 19th 2020
The renowned music and arts festival Coachella, that takes place annually in the Empire Polo Club in Indio, started life in 1999. Over two days a crowd of 25,000 witnessed some of the biggest music acts that still rule the roost to this day. From The Chemical Brothers to Morrissey. Nowadays Coachella has spread across to two consecutive weekends. Each act that plays on the first weekend also plays on the second. And although the festival is often portrayed as a crazy party haven, it is in fact a family-friendly festival suitable for children of all ages. Children under five go free.
Festival Tips: As with all music festivals the basic rules of survival should be followed – drink water, wear sunscreen, and wear comfortable footwear. Other recommendations are to rent a locker if you’re not camping, to lighten the load. Have a meeting spot in case you lose your friends is always a must. And having an idea of what music act you want to see is always handy.
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May: Stars of the White Nights, St Petersburg, Russia
Next Festival Date: May 22nd – July 21st 2019
The Stars of White Nights is a festival to celebrate St. Petersburg‘s natural phenomenon of ‘white nights’. This is the time of year between May and July/August when the skies never become completely dark. It’s because of St. Petersburg’s location near the artic circle. And so the city basks in twilight rather than moonlight throughout these months.
One of the top festivals around the world, Stars of the White Nights is a celebration of music and the arts. The basis of the festival is the world-famous Mariinsky Ballet and Opera Theatre, which hosts daily classical ballet and opera performances. Carnivals take place throughout the city. And St. Petersburg’s Palace Square plays host to concerts. Past performers have included The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney.
Festival Tips: Tickets to the ballet and opera performances at the Mariinsky Theatre sell out quickly. So get your tickets early to prevent disappointment. Don’t miss The Scarlet Sails, considered the biggest event of the festival. It includes a ticket only concert on Palace Square at 10pm and a light-music pyrotechnic multimedia show in the Neva River from 12:40am.
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June: Glastonbury Festival, UK
Next Festival Date: June 26th – June 30th 2019
Glastonbury Festival may require some effort to get to. And there might be a queue when you actually reach the gates. But this music festival, whose home is in the beautiful and mystical Vale of Avalon, is well worth the effort. Think of a tented city that can stretch over 900 acres if it so wanted to. Going strong and nearly every year since 1970, the festival is one of the top festivals around the world. From the famous Pyramid Stage to the Bandstand, with festival line-ups from The Killers to The Cure, it always presents the cream of the rock and roll crop.
Festival Tips: For a great Glastonbury experience some of the best festival tips are:
Travel light.Wear sunscreen and comfortable footwear.Pack a battery pack.Bring your own booze but drink lots of water.Have an idea of what band you want to see.But be open-minded to ‘new music’.Explore the food options.Keep an ear out for secret gigs.Use the compost toilets.Have a meeting spot for friends in case you get lost.
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July: Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea
Next Festival Date: July 19th – July 28th 2019
If there’s a festival out there that brings out the inner-child in you, then it has to be Boryeong Mud Festival. Stretching over ten days, this top festival in the town of Boryeong has certainly made a name for itself. But thankfully it’s not all about sliding about in mud for ten days. There’s more to the festival: There are busking zones and a food zone. There’s a performance plaza, festival fair, yacht parades and air shows. But if you only came for the mud, there are mudflat games, mudpack experiences, and a mud village. Oh and it’s family-friendly too, so you can introduce your real child to your inner-child throughout your stay.
Festival Tips: Don’t wear anything you care about too much. And get muddy. As muddy as can be. Sure that’s what you’re there for!
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August: Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Next Festival Date: August 25th- September 2nd 2019
Burning Man began its journey in 1986 when Larry Harvey and his friend Jerry James built a makeshift 8ft wooden man. They set him alight on Baker Beach for the Summer Solstice. It gathered a small group of onlookers of about 35 people. The next year, 1987, they repeated their actions only with a 15ft Burning Man. And to a bigger group of about 80 people. Flash forward ten years to 1997 and Hualapai in Arizona. And a Burning Man stretching 50ft. It gathered a crowd of 10,000 people. 2007 at Black Rock Desert saw a 72ft Burning Man and 47,097 people. 2017 saw a 105ft Burning Man and 69,493 people.
Described as a community and not a festival, this event has grown in strength and numbers since its humble beginnings. And Black Rock Desert has become the home of the temporary Black Rock City. It is a ‘festival’ like no other that celebrates its community, nature, culture, art and performance.
Festival Tips: Read the ‘The 10 Principles of Burning Man’ outlined on the official website. Be open-minded, get involved and then leave no trace.
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Travel Inspiration: August Bank Holiday Breaks from Ireland 2019
September: The Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, Ireland
Next Festival Date: September 27th – September 29th 2019
The Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival is an annual celebration of fresh Irish oysters and seafood. Described as a gourmet extravaganza, and in existence since 1954, the festival is the world’s longest running oyster festival.
The Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival runs for three days in the centre of Galway City. And it isn’t just about enjoying great Irish produce from the sea, whilst drinking champagne or stout. It’s also about education, and learning how to prepare seafood and cook it with demonstrations from top class chefs and fishmongers, seafood talks and trails. You can also expect music and entertainment, the National Oyster Opening Championship and a Masquerade ‘Mardi Gras’ Ball.
Festival Tips: If visiting without children, dive right in to the opening night celebrations, the Oyster Opening Championship and ‘Mardi Gras’ Ball. If it’s a family-friendly event you’re looking for then hold out for the last day of the festival and the ‘Féile Bia Na Mara’. This event includes cookery demonstrations and child-friendly activities in and around the purposely-built festival marquee.
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October: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico
Next Festival Date: October 5th – October 13th 2019
If you’re looking for a picture perfect moment then you’ve come to the right festival. Because Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a delight for the eyes. Watch the ‘Mass Ascension of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’ as colourful balloons take over the skies above the Rio Grande Valley. From it’s opening ceremony, to fireworks shows. There’s even a competition flying event, chainsaw carving and a music fiesta – a truly unique festival for all the family. Who wouldn’t want to witness hundreds and hundreds of huge brightly coloured balloons in the sky!
Festival Tips: Weather is a factor when it comes to ascension, so go to the mass ascension on the day you arrive because you might not get another chance. Or it could happen every day, if the sun shines and the wind is right. Get there early, some recommend dawn, to take in all the activity. But wear layers as it can be chilly early in the morning.
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November: Día de los Muertos, Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico
Next Festival Date: November 1st – 2nd 2019
The Day of the Dead, or in Spanish ‘Día de los Muertos‘, is a traditional holiday celebrated throughout Mexico. Here’s a fun fact – the Día de los Muertos parade that featured in 2015 James Bond film ‘Spectre’ was the inspiration for the parade that exists in Mexico City today. Before that movie there was no parade. However, even though Mexico City boasts of a spectacular celebration, it’s the town of Pátzcuaro in Michoacán that is renowned for being the best place to witness the holiday.
The magical town ‘Pueblo Mágico’ of Pátzcuaro sits near a lake amongst a beautiful landscape of green mountains. And its colourful architecture becomes even more alive during the Day of the Dead. Known for their artisan talents the people of Pátzcuaro, known as ‘Purépecha’, light candles throughout the town, play music, dress up and of course create fantastic alters from marigolds.
Festival Tips: Night of the Dead, or ‘Noche de Muertos’, is celebrated in the Lake Pátzcuaro area. During this sacred time, the lake’s main island Janitzio is a place for prayer and remembering loved ones. All-night candlelight vigils are kept, and at midnight the lake is lit up with a parade of candlelit boats. Visit artisan cafes and stock up on some of the best street food around to keep you going through the night.
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December: Krampusnacht, Klagenfurt, Austria
Next Festival Date: December 31st 2019
Considered one of the top festivals in Central Europe, Krampusnacht also deserves a place on this list as one of the top festivals around the world. Celebrated throughout Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, the best place to witness it is in Klagenfurt, Austria.
Ever wondered who the opposite of Santa Claus might be? Well wonder no more because according to ancient tradition Krampus is the demonic creature that punishes naughty children. But here’s the funny thing, Krampus and St. Nicolas actually work together. According to folklore, as Santa gives out gifts to the good boys and girls, Krampus gives out punishments to the bad ones.
Festival Tips: Klagenfurt is home to the largest of the Krampusnacht parades. You can expect to witness over 1000 Krampus partaking in the event. If you’d like to dress up and take part you can. If you decide to remain a spectator be sure to wrap up warm. Also remember to keep your possessions safe and bring snacks. Then stand back and enjoy the parade of demons, wolf-men and witches.
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Top Festivals Around the World for 2019
MonthFestivalJanuaryHarbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, ChinaFebruaryRio de Janeiro Carnival, BrazilMarchHoli Festival Mumbai, IndiaAprilCoachella, CaliforniaMayStars of the White Nights, St Petersburg, RussiaJuneGlastonbury Festival, UKJulyBoryeong Mud Festival, South KoreaAugustBurning Man, Black Rock City, NevadaSeptemberThe Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, IrelandOctoberAlbuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New MexicoNovemberDia de los Muertos, Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, MexicoDecemberKrampusnacht, Klagenfurt, Austria