A good number of countries around the world celebrate at least one event every year, either to mark something, someone or a cause. Some of these celebrations have held for centuries and every year attract both locals and millions of visitors from around the world who have one goal – to party, drink and have fun.
From the diverse cultural events around the world to the most popular street carnivals, this article explores the what, where and when of the World Famous Festivals you should add to your must-see list.
Running of The Bulls
When: 6 – 14 July
Where: Pamplona, Spain
The Running of the Bulls is a part of the famous San Fermin festival, where people run in front of a small group of bulls that have been let loose on a course of a sectioned-off part of a town’s streets. The idea is to avoid the bull from knocking you will definitely shoot up your adrenaline…So are you up for it?
When: The last Wednesday in August
Where: Buñol, Spain
As crazy as it may seem, the La Tomatina festival is held every year purely for entertainment. It isn’t tied to any ancient traditions or memorable event – it’s just for the fun. The festival dates back to 1945, when a few locals began throwing fruits and vegetables during a parade. It was fun and attracted other participants and ever since then, the tomato-throwing festival has continued to hold every last Wednesday in August.
Pingxi Lantern Festival
When: 3 March
Originally celebrated to ward of evil and disease from the town, the Taiwanese lantern festival features thousands of sky lanterns lit over Pingxi District in Taiwan. These lanterns are decorated with wishes and images relating to the owner and released into the sky. The collection of the lantern together magically decorate the sky into a sanctuary of lights. This unique Taiwanese lantern festival was voted by the Discovery Channel as the second biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in the world.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
When: 6 October – 14 October
Where: New Mexico, USA
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a yearly festival of hot air balloons that takes place in Albuquerque during early October. The Balloon Fiesta is a nine-day event, and has around 750 balloons. The event is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. Once the balloons are let off, they paint the sky with their vibrant colours and hues, creating an amazing sight to behold.
Boryeong Mud Festival
Where: South Korea
Boryeong mud Festival was born out of the need for a commercial advert by a South Korea cosmetics company that created a line of beauty products containing Boryeong mud. The company didn’t want to spend money on commercials, so they invited potential customers to a mud party to have a first-hand experience of the special mud firsthand. The event features mud slides, mud prison, mud pools, mud skiing, live music, acupuncture, and fireworks display. If you don’t mind getting messed up while having fun, this festival is for you.
When: 1 December – 31 December
Where: Cross River, Nigeria
Tagged as “Africa’s Biggest Street Party”, the Calabar Carnival festival was created to promote the rich culture of Cross River State, Nigeria, its people and the various tourist attractions. The carnival span through the entire month of December, however, the events are divided into 4 weeks – the Millenium Week (1-10 Dec), The Sports Fiesta (12-17 Dec), The TINAPA Family Fun Festival (19-24 Dec) and the Carnival Week (25-31 Dec).
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
When: December 24 to February 25
Where: Harbin, China
Snow has never looked so good as it looks during the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. Celebrated in Harbin, the festival exhibits the most exquisite ice and snow sculptures in the world. Every year people build incredible things out of ice and snow, decorating them with lights and lasers. One can only experience the phenomenal beauty this festival offers when you visit as pictures do not do justice to the well-sculptured ice.
When: 20 March – 21 March
Holi is a spring festival also known as the festival of colours. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which starts with a Holika bonfire on the night before Holi where people gather, sing and dance. The carnival of colours takes place the next morning, where everyone plays, chases and colours each other with dry powder and coloured water. There’s also coloured-water guns used for water fight as well as a display of music, dance and later on, food.
White Nights Festival
When: 26 May – 23 July
Where: St. Petersburg, Russia
Carnival of Venice
When: between Lent and Easter
Where: Venice, Italy
The tradition of carnival dates back to over 900 years. It was the one time in the year when there were no bounds, everybody was free to do things desired all year without any guilt, thanks to the masks.
Dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead)
When: 31 October – 2 November
Mainly celebrated in Mexico, the Dia de los Muertos is a holiday where people gather to pray for friends and family members who have died. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas and visiting the graves of the departed with their favourite foods. Scary indeed but the mystery surrounding this celebration is worth the speedy heartbeat.
The Rio de Janeiro Carnival
When: 2 March – 9 March
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro is a world famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with 2 million people per day on the streets. The typical Rio carnival parade, which dates back to 1823, is filled with revellers, floats and adornments from numerous samba school.
Life is more fun when you explore – conquer the world now you still can.