15 Best Local Festivals From Around The World

Does traveling excite you? Are you the one who would prefer local cultural events over expensive hotels and museums any given day?

Well, well, well! I have got something for you.

Here’s a list of 20 local festivals from around the world. Because come on, you didn’t really travel if you didn’t feel like you’re one of them.

No, seriously! Add them to your bucket list right now.

 

1.  Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany

Traditional German Dress and Beer

Sep 16, 2017 – Oct 3, 2017

Held since 1810, Oktoberfest has become the world’s largest Beer Festival held annually in Munich, Germany. It’s a 16- to 18-day folk festival running from mid or late September to the first weekend in October, attended by more than 6 million people from around the world every year.

The fest is centered around beer. It’s been said that in 2013’s festival alone, 7.7 Liters of beer was served. Apart from beer, you would also see amusement rides, side stalls, games, and traditional food.

Beer fan? Like meeting people? Fan of Bayern Munich? Free around that period?
Don’t think. Just book your tickets to Munich. Now!

 

2.  Rio Carnival – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Carnival Parade

Feb 9, 2018 – Feb 14, 2018

Rio Carnival is one of the biggest carnivals in the world held every year before Lent. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723.

The festival records about 2 million people per day on the streets. The 5-6 day long carnival is all about samba, music, dancing, parties, costumes, and giant parades. So, pack your bags and head to Rio this February!

 

3.  Holi – India and Nepal

Coloring the air around them

Mar 1, 2018 – Mar 2, 2018

Holi, also known as the “Festival of Colors”, signifies the victory of good over evil. Holi’s different celebrations come from different Hindu legends. One of the legends says that it was the day a demoness named ‘Holika’ was burned to death with the help of God Vishnu.

While originated in India, it has gain popularity all over the world for its colorful spirit. If you’re a fan of colors and you don’t mind little sports in your life, go for it!

The play starts early in the morning and lasts till afternoon. People would throw colored powder, colored water, and water balloons at each other. If you happen to be at the celebration, you would return home all colored.

Just look at the picture above. If that doesn’t excite you, don’t know what will. 😀

 

4.  La Tomatina – Buñol, Spain

Tomato Fight

Aug 30, 2017

The tomato fight festival dates back to 1944 or 1945. Held on the last Wednesday of August each year in the town of Buñol close to Valencia.

At around 11 AM, many trucks full of overripe tomatoes arrive in the center of the town. The festival doesn’t begin until someone climbs to the top of a two-story high, greased up-wooden pole and reaches the Spanish ham at the top. The fight starts as soon as the water cannons fire and lasts for an hour until you hear the second signal.

The festival used to witness about 40,000+ participants earlier. In 2013, the town officials introduced paid tickets limited to 20,000 as a safety measure.

I know it hurts to waste so many tomatoes. But it’s fun, right? Who would miss one of the world’s biggest food fights!

Maybe you could grow a couple of them later in your garden. That’ll make it even.

 

5.  Carnival of Venice – Venice, Italy

Venice Carnival Masks

Jan 27, 2018 – Feb 13, 2018

Also known by the name Carnevale di Venezia for the locals, Carnival is one of the biggest celebrations in Italy.

The first celebration was held back in 1162 after the victory of the “Serenissima Repubblica” against the Patriarch of Aquileia and was completely banned in 1797 by the King of Austria. Fast forward to 1979, the festival was brought back by the Italian government.

The entire Venice turns into one big fancy dress themed party. One thing you would not wanna miss is the contest for ‘la Maschera più Bella’ (the most beautiful mask) judged by a panel of international costume and fashion designers.

Other than that, you might also wanna try Casanova Carnival Ball on Feb 10. There will be dinner, cocktails, music, dancing, partying, people, and whatnot. But they say good things come at a price. And tickets for this ball would cost you €200 if you skip the dinner, welcome drinks and Minuet, and €670 if you’re in for everything.

 

6.  Tomorrowland – Boom, Belgium

Tomorrowland at Night

Late July of 2018 (Jul 20 – Jul 30 in 2017)

If EDM is your thing, you just can’t miss Tomorrowland. Think of the coolest music event you have attended lately, multiple the coolness by 10, that’s what Tomorrowland 2018 is going to be like.

Tomorrowland first started in 2005, and since then it has been a huge hit every year with the likes of Hardwell, David Guetta, Avicii, Armin Van Buuren, Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike, Tiesto, Martin Garrix, DVBBS, Alesso, and the list goes on. The tickets range from about $100 for a day pass to about $300 for the full madness festival pass.

Tomorrowland 2017 was attended by 400,000 visitors. That’s like 0.005% of the total population on this planet. Now isn’t that cool?

 

7.  The Day of the Dead – Mexico, Los Angeles and more

The Parade

Oct 31, 2017 – Nov 2, 2017

Known as Dia de los Muertos if you are a Spanish enthusiast.

The Day of the Dead is celebrated for three days starting Oct 31 which is Halloween. Nov 1 is  Dia de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) to honor kids who have passed away, and Nov 2 is the actual Dia de los Muertos where families honor adults whom they have lost.

The celebrations are either done at home or at the cemeteries to pray for the deceased. The favorite food and beverage of the deceased are often prepared in their honor. You’ll also see parades full of costumes, body paints, skulls and bones on the streets.

If there is anyone you were close to, this could be a good way to honor them.

 

8.  Cascamorras – Baza, Spain

Pouring Black Oil

Sep 6, 2017 – Sep 9, 2017

Spain, apparently, has many interesting traditions including Cascamorras.

This one started as a fight between two neighboring towns – Gaudix and Baza. Cascamorras, a worker from Gaudix, found a buried sacred image of the Virgen de la Piedad (Our Lady of Mercy) in Baza. Cascamorras and his fellows were to take it to Gaudix but Baza snatched it back. Upon returning empty-handed, the disappointed villages reprimanded Cascamorras and continued to pray to their Virgin located in the other town.

Probably to spice things up, Baza declared that on the saint’s day, Gaudixif a nominated person from Gaudix was able to reach the Virgin remaining clean, he could keep it for Gaudix. Each year, a ‘Cascamorras’ is nominated to complete the job, but no one has been able to achieve this feat so far.

Now, on Sep 6, thousands of villagers from Baza cover themselves with black oil to dirty the ‘Cascamorras’ from Gaudix who has a Porra (rubber ball tied to a wooden stick) to defend himself.

The second part is held in Gaudix on Sep 9 where thousands of villagers head toward the railway station covered in paint and coloring any onlooker on the way. Later, they all get cleaned, and the run toward the church begins at 18:30 and finishes at about 21:00.

 

9.  Chinese New Year – China

Lion Dance

Feb 16, 2018

Chinese New Year, also known as the ‘Spring Festival’ is celebrated on the evening preceding the first day of the new year based on Chinese lunisolar calendar. The new year falls on the new moon between Jan 21 and Feb 20.

The festival is centuries old and used to be a festival to honor deities and ancestors. The celebrations start on the New Year’s Eve and last till the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the year.

Families gather on New Year’s Eve for the annual reunion dinner, houses are thoroughly cleaned to sweep away ill-fortune and to make way for good fortune, windows are decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets, elders give money to younger ones in red paper envelopes, firecrackers are lighted, and dumplings are prepared.

2018 would be the year of Dog (Earth Dog to be precise). Wanna do it the right way? Go, celebrated it with your Chinese friends. Don’t have any? Make some. Now.

Seriously! Go.

 

10.  Up Helly Aa Fire Festival – Scotland

Jarl Squad's March

Jan 30, 2018

Up Helly Aa is an annual Shetland tradition originated in the 1880s. The current celebration grows out of the older yule tradition of tar barreling where men dragged barrels of tar through town on sleds. After the abolition of tar barreling around 1874-1880, permissions were eventually granted for torch possessions.

This fiery festival has a lot of adventure to offer. It starts with a morning march of the Jarl squad, a visit to the Shetland Museum, the procession toward the galley (a Viking longship), and then setting fire to it.

 

11.  Boryeong Mud Festival – Boryeong, South Korea

Boryeong Mud Wrestling

Late July of 2018 (Jul 21 – Jul 30 in 2017)

Close your eyes and think of one giant water park. Now replace all the water with mud.

Boryeong Mud Festival is an annual festival held during the summer in Boryeong, a town around 200 KM from Seoul. It is one muddy event you just can’t miss despite the mess.

The festival attracts a large number of international visitors who enjoy mud wrestling, mud sliding, and even swimming in the mud bath. To add to it, mud games, mud marathon, mud fight, mud massage, mud mob, they have got it all!

And if you’re tired of mud, they have got you covered with raves, parades, fireworks, and other cultural events.

 

12.  Sapporo Snow Festival – Sapporo, Japan

Star Wars Themed Snow Sculptures

Feb 16, 2018 – Feb 12, 2018

Notice that Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers in the picture above? Yeah, that’s snow.

Man, can’t believe! People are really talented these days. The best thing I could make out of ice was Ice Candy, and it didn’t really taste good.

Anyway, coming to the point, this is Sapporo Snow Festival held annually in Sapporo, Japan, over 7 days in February. It all started in 1950 when six local high school students built six snow statues in Odori Park.

What should you expect? Pretty snow statues and ice sculptures that can go more than 25 meters in width and 15 meters in height. There will be hundreds of statues and sculptures at Odori Park and Susukino; some even forming the stage for concerts and events.

What else can you see? Snow slides, snow rafting, and moooore snow sculptures at Tsu Dome Site which is more family oriented.

 

13.  Albuquerque International Balloon Festival – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Hundreds of Hot Air Balloons

Oct 7, 2017 – Oct 15, 2017

Albuquerque International Balloon Festival is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. It takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA every year.

The first ever Balloon Fiesta occurred in 1972 with 13 hot air balloons as the highlight of a 50th birthday celebration for 770 KOB Radio from Albuquerque. From a small gathering of 13 balloons in 1972, the fiesta has grown to almost 600 balloons and 1000 pilots.

The entire week is filled with balloon races, laser shows, balloon glow events, and flying competitions.

 

14.  Songkran Water Festival – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Water War - Elephant vs People

Apr 13, 2018 – Apr 15, 2018

If you thought Thailand is only known for shopping, nightlife, beaches, and Thai food, clearly, you aren’t familiar with Songkran Water Festival.

Songkran, or Thai New Year, is a Buddhist festival celebrated on April 13. The celebrations go on till April 15 making it a three-day holiday period. The term ‘Songkran’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Sankranti’ meaning ‘astrological passage’. The festival marks the end of the dry season and welcomes the monsoon. The locals visit temples, wash their Buddha icons, and clean the Buddhist statues in their houses.

There is also a fun angle to the festival. The entire country becomes a war zone. You’ll see kids battling with their water guns, adults splashing buckets of water on the passersby, and elephants showering water on the revelers.

Good thing, it’s falling on a weekend this time. Perfect weekend getaway for the adventurous ones.

 

15.  White Nights Festival – Saint Petersburg, Russia

Scarlet Sails Celebration

May 26, 2018 – Jul 24, 2018 (Unconfirmed)

The White Nights Festival in Saint Petersburg, Russia is the annual festival during the season of the midnight sun and consists of several art events, wonderful fireworks, scarlet sails celebration, carnivals, and international star performances at the Palace Square.

The picture you see above is from ‘Scarlet Sails Celebration’ – one of the most popular public events in Russia, the Russians call it ‘Alye Parusa’. It is well known for the spectacular fireworks and a grand show celebrating the end of the school year.

For the art lovers, there is classical ballet, opera, carnivals on historic events, and other music events including the star performances at Palace Square.

 

Honorable Mentions

 

1.  Lantern Festival – Pingxi, Taiwan (Throughout Asia)

Sky full of Lanterns

Mar 2, 2018

Celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar. The celebrations include lighting and watching of lanterns, solving lantern riddles, lion dances, and eating Tangyuan (ball shaped dumplings).

 

2.  Winter Light Festival – Kuwana City, Japan

Mt. Fuji Illumination

Nov 15, 2017 – Mar 16, 2018

Winter Light Festival at Nabana No Sato, a botanical theme park in Kuwana City, is Japan’s one of the finest winter illuminations. Created with over 7 million LED lights charged using solar panels, the park has been home to many creative illuminations including the famous Tunnel of Lights, Mt. Fuji at dawn, and aurora.

 

3.  Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake Festival – Gloucester, England

Men racing down the hill

May 28, 2018

It’s an annual event held on the Spring Bank Holiday at Cooper’s Hill, near Gloucester in England.

From the top of the hill, a 9 lb round of Double Gloucester Cheese is rolled, and the participants race down the hill chasing it. The first person over the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese.

 

4.  Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival – Co. Clare, Ireland

The Matchmaker Bar

Sep 1, 2017 – Oct 7, 2017 (Unconfirmed)

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, one of the Ireland’s oldest traditions, is the annual matchmaking festival drawing over 20,000 people to the busy pubs and hotels every year. The single visitors flock to pubs hoping to find a mate, and in many cases, they do end up finding one.

 

5.  Coachella – Indio, California, US

Coachella's Aerial View

Apr 13, 2018 – Apr 22, 2018

Attended by about 200,000, the Coachella Festival is the annual music and arts festival held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. The event features music artists from many genres including rock, indie, hip hop and EDM, as well as art installations and sculpture.

The festival has featured many popular artists including Coldplay, Calvin Harris, Madonna, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Daft Punk, Lady Gaga, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Radiohead, Dr. Dre, Jay Z, Ellie Goulding, AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Alesso and more.

 

Thank you for reading this post. Let me know which festival you would like to attend in the comments.

Ciao!

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42 thoughts on “15 Best Local Festivals From Around The World

  1. What a wonderful post! I have always loved festival, the ability that is has to bring people from all over the world together is just so mind staggering. I am going to make it my goal in life to be able to attend all of these festivals before I die haha

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder how much research must have gone into it! Great post. Tha KS a lot for the share Russian white nights looks the prettiest and Rio carnival is on my bucket list. Can’t wait to read more. You may wanna include Kolkata’s Durgapuja to the list 🙂

    Like

    1. Thanks! Do share your experience if you happen to attend either. 🙂

      Oh, right. How could I forget DP! Will add to the list. Need to do a bit of research. Have attended one in Kolkata back in 2011. I loved the atmosphere.

      Like

    1. Thanks, Anjali. I totally agree with you. What’s a better way to understand the culture than living like a local, right?

      Tomorrowland! Now that’s something on top of my bucket list as well.
      Hope it happens for you very soon.

      Like

  3. I loved this list of festivals, i love festivals especially Holi, i play all day with colors with friends and family, if i get any chance i would love to see rest of festivals by visiting these awesome places, thanks for sharing this list.

    Like

  4. Beautiful post on festivals around the world. Festivals are the ceremonies where whole group of people come together to celebrate without any hate and distinction. Also a beautiful way to understand the culture and society of that place.

    Like

  5. You missed festival of lights, DIWALI in your post. Holi and Diwali both are celebrated with a huge spirit in INDIA.
    Very informative post.

    Like

    1. Thanks! 🙂
      Being an Indian, I hated to leave Diwali out. But I think it’s more of a family festival and might not work well for visitors. Then there’s a lot of pollution as people end up bursting crackers in excess.

      Like

  6. There are some pretty incredible festivals around the world. I love your list of them here. It’s just so amazing how they celebrate in each region. I admit that the food fight in Spain sounds like a lot of fun. Although I do understand why they would limit it to 20,000 because it could get very dangerous.

    Like

    1. Thanks! Totally agree. Each region has its unique festival and a unique story behind it.
      La Tomatina does sound interesting. However, a huge crowd of 40,000 was too much to handle and even caused several injuries.

      Like

  7. That matchmaking festival sounds interesting for a singleton like me haha! 😉 Seriously though, some really cool festivals included in this list – a few to add to my bucket list I think! x

    Like

  8. I haven’t seen The Oruro Festival in Bolivia. For me this festival so much important as the others even you can eleminate rio festival and put the oruro f on the number one rank. Because every year the dance school students join the festival and they perform on the streets wearing interesting costumes and mask. The festival is world heritage by UNESCO

    Like

    1. Thanks, man! I didn’t know about Oruro at all. It sure seems like an amazing festival. It’s very colorful. Just that I need to do a bit of research before adding.

      About the list of festivals, it’s no particular order. Just that those were the best 15 in my opinion. No ranking. 🙂

      Like

  9. You’re talking my language. 🙂 I love to travel and love all of the festivals that take place now. Any chance to hear some great music and to just let go is awesome. I experienced Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN for a first time and it was good fun. 🙂 I look forward to experiencing more and coming back to your article to check out the awesome festivals you listed. Thanks.

    Like

    1. Thanks, Ty! I checked out the website. It’s like one big camping with a lot of fun events and music.

      By the way, have you been to Coachella? I read that they are very different. Would love to know your opinion on this.

      Like

  10. What a good list! Thank you for sharing. The first one in your list is so well known that there are Oktoberfests sround the world – I will play with my band at the one in Calella, Spain this year.
    And I am missing the Fringe in Edinburgh on your list a bit.
    I would like to nominate your blog for the Mystery Blogger Award – you will find all information here https://sabrina-wohlfeil.de/en/blog/2017/08/27/mystery-blogger-award-nomination/

    Like

    1. Thanks, Sabrina! Yeah, there are many around the world. There’s a bit of celebration in India as well.

      About Fringe, I didn’t even know about it. But it looks absolutely fun. Will have to rework on my list when I’m a bit free. Thanks for sharing.

      All the best for your performance! Wish I could attend. Wouldn’t miss the video, though.

      And, thanks for the nomination. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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