Travelling during the festive season can bring a whole new bright and exciting element to your next holiday. Joining in on a cultural festivities is an interesting and hands-on way to understand a city or country up front, nice and cosy! So if experiencing a culture, rather than reading about one, is more your thing then take a look at some of our favourite colour festivals this dazzling globe has to offer.
Where: India & Nepal
When: 21 March
Holi is an ancient Hindu festival popularly known as the Festival of Spring. The culture celebrates the harvest and the blossoming of love through a festive day of play, love and forgiven broken relationships. On the eve of Holi people celebrate around a bonfire – a symbolic cleanse of good triumphing over evil. In the north and west people of all classes come together and play with colour, dance, sing and feast! If you’re looking for a colour festival, and you’re not afraid to get dirty, well, we think you’ve found it!
The Sydney Mardi Gras
Where: Rio Sydney, Australia
When: 15 February – 3March
With 2 million attendees each year this is the biggest LGBQI celebration in the world! The Sydney Mardi Gras’ 2-week equality festivities come to an end with its famous go-big-or-go-home LGBQI parade down Sydney’s Oxford Street. Dubbed by LGBQI locals as “Gay Christmas”, it certainly is one of the happiest days of the year! We highly recommend checking this out on your visit down under! *Rainbow Flag Emoji*
Where: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
When: 21 – 23 February
Okay, so there is technically a lot of international carnivals, but this is The Carnival. Held every year before lent this festival attracts around 2 million people per day. And if the streets weren’t squishy enough make way for the colourful Rio carnival parade with revellers, giant floats and an abundance of glittery samba dances who slightly resemble birds mating in the Amazon (we wish we could pull the look off)! A celebration dating back to the 1640s where elaborate feasts took place to honour the Greek wine Gods – no wonder they decide to celebrate just before Lent!
Where: Buñol, Spain
When: 28 August
What better way to celebrate the delicious tomato then at the worlds biggest food fight, are we right? The 1-hour fight festivities only technically commence when one of the 20k + participants braves the two-storey high climb of a greased up wooden pole to collect the prized ham at the top. Erm, that sounds hard!
Hanami, The Cherry Blossom Festival
Where: Japan (and in some areas of Washington D.C, USA)
We believe in any excuse to party, and the blossoming springtime is no exception! This centuries-old Japanese festival generally entails a scenic celebration of candlelit lanterns in the plum and cherry blossom trees. Thousands of people fill the parks in celebration and hold a mouth-watering feast under the budding trees. Picture perfect!
Dia de los Muertos – The day of the dead
When: 2 November
The Day of the Dead is an iconic holiday celebrated throughout all of Mexico. The holiday is a day where family and friends gather together to remember and pray for those who have passed on – this is believed to help the deceased spiritual journey. Such a topic usually would entail a day of mourning, but this holy day is a day of celebration, as the Mexicans believe that their loved one is awoken on this day to celebrate with them. And expect to celebrate, with elaborate carnivals and face-paint galore! Pop Trivia: before colonisation, this day was traditionally celebrated in the summer, but has subsequently changed to our Halloween in an adaption of Western culture.
Konya Whirling Dervishes Festival
Where: Konya, Turkey
When: Every December
Wearing the beautiful traditional conical hat or sikke the Whirling Dervishes, also known as Mevlevi, are famous for their unique whirling dance: a symbol of their way of remembering God. Founded by the 13th Century Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi (Mevlâna) who believed that music and dance provided the mystic trance which provided a state of ecstasy, the divine, seen as a way of connecting with God.
Where: Black Rock City, USA
When: 25 August – 2 September
Burning Man might seem like an odd cultural festival to depict the All American Way, in fact, Burning Man has often been described as a week-long community experiment dedicated to anti-consumerism – so it may be better anointed as the anti-festival? Attracting over 35k, this annual 9-day art experiment is a metropolis located deep in the sandy desert of Black Rock City. A venue that values who you are, not how much money you have, hence to rule that money is not to be exchanged, rather the use of a barter system using handmade items, talent, food or performance (yup). It’s an all-inclusive event with workshops, music, art and performances that famously ends with the ritual burning of the wooden effigy (a giant wooden sculpture of a man).