There’s something lovely about celebrating festivals and the festival experience itself. There is palpable joy and excitement in the air. Months-long preparation finally comes to fruition for a day or two of endless celebration. All around the world, people gather together to celebrate exquisite festivals to celebrate culture, tradition, and life in general. Some even become annual global events that people from all over the world look forward to. If you are on the mission to join such global events, we have the perfect ultimate festival list for you.
Get the Best Festival Experience from This List
Attending festivals is not only for the enjoyment and parties, basic etiquette dictates that we must have a firm grasp or understanding of what the festival is celebrating. Armed with such knowledge, festival-goers will know how to act correctly and can prepare accordingly.
Let’s dive deep into cultural and traditional festivals that you definitely do not want to miss!
It would be a shame to miss the grand festival experience of celebrating Diwali. Diwali is a five-day celebration among the Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs, making it the most anticipated and celebrated festival in India. As a religious celebration, tourists are encouraged to practice customs and traditions in celebrating the festival.
During this week-long celebration, the entire region lights up as homes line up rows and rows of lighted clay lamps and candles. Bright flowers, which also symbolizes the festival, adorn entire streets and sections, hanging from roofs and posts. Fireworks shows are also staples to end the daily celebrations. For some, Diwali is a new year’s celebration, which is why excitement and hope stir and mix well with the crisp festival air.
From the southern region, let’s move our attention to a similarly grand celebration up north in Venice—the Carnivale Di Venezia. The Venice Carnival is one of the most anticipated celebrations in the world. Famously represented by its elaborate full-faced and half-face Venetian masks, festival-goers are itching to get their hands on some of these famous festival experience items.
Maybe unknown to some but the symbol of the festival has more significance than what it seems today. In the celebration of the festival way back, the wearing of masks allows people to celebrate and engage in merry-making together regardless of their social status. During the time when your status dictates how you can live your life, these elaborate masks allows the Venetians to enjoy long days of celebration without fear of being seen interacting with someone who does not share the same status as them.
Now, the making and wearing of masks are part of the festival’s legacy. If you come home from the Carnivale Di Venezia without a Venetian mask, did you really even go at all?
Sky Lantern Festival
Are you a fan of the night sky? How about the elaborate design of lanterns? Lastly, are you looking for another festival experience? If your answer is yes to all three questions, then Taiwan’s Sky Lantern Festival should be on your festival bucket list.
The practice of releasing floating lanterns in the sky is said to have originated during the Xing Dynasty. At that time, the practice was not for aesthetic purposes but for practicality. The lanterns served as signals that the people who hid in the mountains during wars can safely trudge down and go back to their homes. But now, the release of these lanterns mean so differently. Festival goers secure one or two lanterns and scribble their wishes on them before inflating and releasing them. Aside from that, this festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebration. The act of releasing, per se, symbolizes letting go of the past year and looking forward to the incoming year.
If this is right up your alley, make sure to secure a flight before the Chinese New Year. Think long and hard for your wishes, too.
Colorful floats, loud drum beats, and infectious grins. The Carnival in Rio checks all of these out with so much more in store in this ultimate festival experience. Everywhere you look at splashes of color and loud vibrations fill your senses. Dubbed as the largest party in the world, it’s impossible to resist the charm of the Rio Carnival. It offers long days and nights of dancing, singing, and overall merry-making until your feet drop.
Usually celebrated before the season of Lent, Rio hums and vibrates with its people. Tourists will have no problems fitting in as locals treat them with familiarity as they share the same goal of enjoying the never-ending parties. The Sambadrome fills with people as different samba schools in Brazil show off their talent and aim to sweep the spectators off their feet.
Aside from the official events of the festival, streets in Brazil organize their own celebrations. Getting lost wouldn’t even be a problem. Not even the slightest.
From one carnival to another, block your schedule for the Mardi Gras celebrated in New Orleans. Similar to the Rio Carnival, Mardi Gras holds the title as the most anticipated party in the USA. Colorful, vibrant, and cheerful, the celebrants of said festival feel satiated after a whole day of celebration.
Donning the motto, Laissez les bons temps rouler, the entire celebration does, indeed, let the good times roll. Similar to the other carnival celebrations, the Mardi Gras is the last joyous and extravagant celebration before the beginning of Lent. So, understandably, people go all out. But regardless of belief and religion, everyone is welcome to celebrate and party.
When you go, make sure to have something green, gold, and purple with you. These are the official colors of the festival experience, which represents faith, justice, and power.
See you on the streets!
St. Patrick’s Day
When you see a mob of people that starts to look like a sea of green on the streets, they’re all probably out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
The celebration remembers and honors St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. As an extension, the festival also celebrates the Irish people and their culture all over the world. In the US, its celebration has also climbed the ranks and became one of the most anticipated celebrations every year.
When you’re out to celebrate, make sure to wear something green to avoid getting pinched by leprechauns. In Irish lore, leprechauns are said to be little fairies who are particularly skilled in causing mischief. Wearing something green is the only way to escape receiving their wrath as they cannot perceive anything green.
If you have the penchant for anything green and Irish, free yourself from any responsibility on March 17 and storm to any Irish pub and celebrate St. Patrick’s day!
Entire streets dedicated for giant water fights? Sign me up!
Songkran is a Buddhist religious festival that signifies the Buddhist New Year. Similar to the celebration of the Chinese New Year, the start of the Buddhist calendar follows the Lunar Calendar. Usually celebrated for three days in April, the celebration of Songkran involves a lot of water. People pour water over their Buddha statues. In the same way, the elderly pour water over the younger people. The younger ones accept and let their elders pour water over them as a sign of submission and respect.
Outside the traditional practices, Songkran is a giant water fight. People line the streets with their buckets of clean water and splash water on one another playfully. Even store owners stay outside their stores with their buckets of water. Loud music fills the air as people enjoy the playful exchange of splashing water.
The celebration of Songkran promises good fun that it’s no surprise that this festival is one of the festival-goers’ favorite.
La Tomatina is one of the festivals that does not have any religious or traditional roots. In fact, it started as a street brawl and, well, it stayed that way until now. It started as a fight but continued on as tradition as food fights gained popularity. Now, it’s one event that increases tourism in Buñol.
Every year, tourists flock to the tiny town of Buñol to join in the state-sanctioned food fight. Tourists willingly travel from their home countries and visit Spain to join an adult’s take on food fights using overly ripe tomatoes that are also poor in quality and not fit for consumption. Usually celebrated in the last week of August, the roads in the Valencian town become red and wet from over 40 tonnes of tomatoes that are specifically prepared for the event.
However, interested tourists must know that the food fight is the culmination of a week-long festivities. Parades, street parties, fireworks shows, and contests are scheduled all through out the week.
If your definition of a perfect festival experience is drowning in beer, then Oktoberfest celebrated in Munich should be your priority. The root of this month-long celebration can be traced to the festivities for the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria. It was way back in 1810. Leaps and years ahead, the celebration lives on. The original celebration lasted for a week, but now it extends to two weeks or so.
While other countries celebrate the season of fall from mid-September to October, the Germans celebrate with glee as they clink their beer glasses with locals and tourists alike. This festival is a go-to for anyone who loves a glass or two or even ten beers. During the festival, you get to taste different types of beer as you hop from one tent to another. Tents for sobering up are also available, you don’t need to worry about it.
From Munich, Oktoberfest has branched out all around the world. Suffice to say, the rest of the world shares the same love of beer and merry-making with Germany. Different countries have their own versions of the festival that coincide with the dates of the original festival.
Dia De Los Muertos
Also known as the Day of the Dead, Dia De Los Muertos celebrates the life and memories of those who passed on November 2nd every year. It is a celebration that is both somber and festive because it brings families together, both the living and the dead. Everyone, across different cultures, celebrates life and death during the day of the dead. However, there’s something special about how Mexicans celebrate Dia De Los Muertos.
Festival-goers wear funky make-up that resemble skulls but are adorned with flowers and intricate designs that make it look inviting rather than frightening. Colorful costumes also complete the look. A grand parade to commemorate the event started in 2016 and is now one of the most anticipated celebrations around the world. Despite the noise of the festivities, festival-goers never forget the essence of the celebration.
If you want to experience a different Christmas celebration, then you might want to go to Austria for that. Tourists all over the world are setting their sights on celebrating Krampusnacht or “Krampus Night”.
In Alpine folklore, both St. Nicholas and Krampus—half-goat and half-demon—visit the kids to give them their gifts on the night of December 5. Apparently, they have a list of the kids who have been good and bad. The good kids receive modest gifts from St. Nicholas while the bad ones receive tree rods and sticks from Krampus. In fact, some images depict St. Nicholas and Krampus visit homes together to leave their gifts. Santa Claus isn’t the only one preparing the naughtly and nice list.
On the said night, people dress up as Krampus—donning on horns, fangs, and hooves—and parade down the street. Some even bring sticks with them and whack people who are unaware of the happenings. They also parade with torches and chains to set the mood to slightly terrifying. It is safe to say that this festival is not for the faint of heart.
Celebrations of festivals vary greatly all around the world. It is a by-product of the beliefs, practices, and customs of a particular place. However, happiness, enjoyment, and excitement are universal languages—feelings that easily transcends language and cultural barriers. If you are on the mission to attend as many festivals as possible, then we hope this list helps you in creating your own festival bucket list.