Across the globe in different countries, thousands of festivals are celebrated every year. For someone who loves traveling, witnessing celebrations from a country with different roots is a must. A festival is a country’s way of representing its culture and its people; thus, it is no wonder that some travelers visit a country when a festival is precisely to take place. They could miss the typical tourists spots but not the festivities.
Armed with your backpack, travel documents, and a sense of adventure, it will come as no surprise if you start listing these festivals down in your own bucket list. In this article are ten international festivals that every wanderlust should see.
1Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro
Rio is one of the many places that travelers would not miss for the world. Moreover, there is one more reason to go there: The Carnaval. Known as a colorful and lively festival, the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro is considered as the biggest carnival, not just in Rio itself, but also in the entire world. It can gather as many as 2 million visitors in the streets per day, and it just keeps going stronger by the year. It occurs on Fridays before Lent and ends on Ash Wednesday.
The Carnaval fills the streets with floaters, entertainers, revelers, and tourists all day long. This is where you will witness the samba dancers swaying their bodies in colorful costumes and large headdresses.
2Holi in India
Quiet, dull, and organized – these are the least terms you would use to describe the Holi Festival in India. Holi is a spring festival and it is also known as the Festival of Colors. This makes sense, as you would see nothing but a burst of colored powders on the participants all over their bodies, their faces, and their clothes.
Known as an ancient Hindu festival, the festivities start with a bonfire where people gather, sing, and dance. Come morning the people chase each other with dry powder and colored water. Everyone can participate in this colorful and playful festival no matter who you are or where you are from. The Holi Festival varies in date in some areas of India, but it usually occurs every third week of March.
3Chinese New Year in China
Fireworks represent a fresh new start for people who believe in the New Year; the colorful skies show happiness, peace, and togetherness; and all the noise just makes it more festive. For the Chinese community, the Chinese New Year is the most symbolic festival of the year. They also call this the Spring Festival.
Unlike the traditional New Year, which occurs every 1st of January, the celebration of Chinese New Year happens from the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar until the 15th day of the first month. However, it does not have a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar, so the date varies per year. This is definitely a long festival so make sure to block your calendar. Typical sightings during this festival include dragons, fireworks, flowers, lanterns, and traditional Chinese cuisine that mostly represent as a good luck charm.
4Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
Oktoberfest is the biggest beer festival celebrated in the world. It is even celebrated in different countries and not just in Munich, Germany. It runs as long as 16 days and from late September to the first week of October. This beer festival gathers about 6 million people from around the world. If you were a huge beer drinker, then you would love this festival. Expect beautiful waitresses to hand you your mugs while you are at it.
5Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico
Also known as the Day of the Dead, Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico and all over the world in commemoration of our deceased loved ones. It might not be a festive celebration all too well, but as the years passed, some countries have found a way to make the day less solemn, especially Mexico.
Traditions call for individuals to build private altars called “ofrendas” for their deceased beloveds, offer them sugar skulls, marigolds, and their favorite foods in their honor, and visit their graves with the said items as gifts. In some streets, some people like to dress up with a skeleton costume or face paint, complete with a flamboyant dress or suit. The Dia de Los Muertos occurs every November 1st and 2nd.
6Pingxi Lantern Festival in Taiwan
If you love lights, lanterns, or both, you must definitely go to Taiwan and see the Pingxi Lantern Festival. It is a fantastic festival that witnesses thousands of sky lanterns over the Pingxi District. The lantern festival was originally orchestrated to ward off evil spirits. The floating lanterns are a sign that the entirety of the town is safe. Now the Pingxi Lantern Festival is known to decorate the skies with various lanterns that make it seem the stars are only a touch away. The Pingxi Lantern Festival happens every 15th of the first lunar month.
7Songkran Water Festival in Thailand
Thailand is a hot country, which is why it is really enjoyable to bask in the sun and walk in a pair of shorts and a shirt. Thin clothes are usually in especially in the summer, but when going to Thailand, you can stash away your cardigan and jeans and dig out your casual clothes for the Songkran Water Festival.
This festival is perfectly held during the hottest days in Thailand when the Thai New Year also occurs. You can easily beat the heat by joining in the water fun and blasting other people with your water gun. The water is usually mixed with chalk or menthol, which then creates a paste that you can smear on other people’s faces. This is believed to be of good luck. Of course, the elephants also have an active participation in this festival by splashing water jets at the people.
8Albuquerque International Balloon Festival in New Mexico, USA
If there’s one thing that travelers from around the world love at any age, it is any hot air balloon festival. Tourists can freely participate in this type of celebration whether it is to ride the hot air balloons or to take pictures of the floating balloons up in the air. The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival takes place in New Mexico, USA every early October of the year. It runs for nine days and has more than 750 hot air balloons. This is by far the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, so it is a must see for tourists who love to see lovely, colorful, and festive hot air balloons in the sky.
9Carnival in Venice, Italy
As a whole, Italy is known for its Renaissance beauty, for the beautiful fountains you can see everywhere, and for its romantic ambiance that everyone likes to go back to now and then, if not to put the country on his or her list of must-sees. While so many tourists are hooked on Venice’s natural beauty, one more reason to visit this city is the Carnival. This is known for the elaborate masks the entertainers wear, which are of different styles, colors, and shapes.
The Carnival is also known as Carnevale, which is said to be derived from the words Carne vale, meaning “farewell to meat.” Carnival is held to allow the Venice community to enjoy meat before the start of Lenten season, so its actual dates differ every year.
10Mardi Gras in New Orleans
New Orleans is known for its queer festival, Mardi Gras. It is celebrated two weeks before and until Shrove Tuesday, the day prior Ash Wednesday. New Orleans Carnival holds many carnivals during these times, but the most anticipated festivity is the Mardi Gras, which is celebrated somewhere between the first to the last week of February and March, depending on when Easter and Ash Wednesday falls.
During the Mardi Gras season, everyone is allowed to wear a mask to hide their identities but which should be removed upon entering any business establishment for security and safety purposes.