A dozen of the best festivals
Festivals: Over 10 of the best celebrations around the world, according to the locals
There are many kinds of festivals and no matter whether they are cultural festivals or music festivals, they’re always a party! I wanted to know more about festivals abroad, and that’s why we asked locals from 12 different countries (including myself) what their favorite festival was.
1.Morocco: Mawazine Festival
Held in January
“My favorite festival is Mawazine. It’s an international music festival held annually in Rabat, featuring many international and local music artists”. Mawazine is one of the largest festivals in the world, with millions of attendees. It has also had many famous performers in the past, like Rihanna, Elton John, and Kanye West. It’s genres are very diverse and it describes itself as having the “music of the world”. It is, in fact, an actual ode to diversity!
2. Peru: La Candelaria
Held in February
Photo by Rene Milla (instagram)
“I would say that my favorite festival would be La Candelaria. La Candelaria is held in Puno in February and commemorates the saint of Puno: the “Virgin of the Candlemas”. It could be described as a connection between the Catholic traditions and the indigenous ones. People represent local traditional dances across the capital of Puno with beautiful costumes”, our friend in Peru told us. This festival is much more culturally focused and therefore allows you to experience Peru in its most vibrant form: a true recommendation!
3. Italy: The Venice Carnival
Held in February/March
Photo by Angelalala25 (instagram)
Like La Candelaria, our Italian contact tells us about a cultural festival in her country: “I am totally in love with the Carnival of Venice. It’s a great way to marvel at the famous iconic Venetian masks, to dress up and enjoy the astonishing fashion show in the streets and to live an authentic and different side of this incredible city. I love Venice so much! One of the most beautiful places we have in Italy, in my opinion!”. You probably have heard of the Carnival before or seen the traditional masks, but if you’ve never visited the festival, you’re missing out!
4. Nepal: Tihar
Held in October/November
“Tihar is my favorite festivals here in Nepal. It falls on the cold winter of October or November (the Nepali month of Asoj/Kartik) every year. Tihar is five-day-long Hindu festival, also known as the festival of lights (Deepawali). It shows a huge respect to not just humans but also to animals that maintain intimate relationship with humans.”
Each day of the Tihar festival is dedicated to something different. The first four days each worship a different animal in the sequence: crow, dog, cow, and ox. The way of worshipping can be through flowers or, for example, with lights and fireworks. The fifth day is the most important and is for thanking your siblings, and fortifying the connections between brothers and sisters. While this festival might be less of a party festival, it actually takes you on a journey through some important traditions and aspects of the Nepalese culture.
5. Australia: Fringe Arts Festival Adelaide
Held in February and March
Photo by adlfringe (instagram)
Every year in February and March Adelaide hosts performers from all over the world at the Fringe Arts Festival. It is the second largest open-air arts festival in the world (after the Edinburgh Fringe) and it is amazing. You can see all kinds of performances such as stand-up comedy, cabaret, magic shows, theatre, contortionists, hula hooping... you name it, it’s probably at the Fringe! There’s also lots of cool spaces set up around the city, such as the Garden of Unearthly Delights, which hosts performances and also has food and shopping stalls. It’s the best time of the year in Adelaide!
Held in March
Photo by Oltatravel (instagram)
"Maslenitsa" is a well-known Russian festival. The date of the festival depends on the date of Easter. The main traditions associated with Maslenitsa? Effigies, fun, sleigh rides, and pancakes. The festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and it’s actually the last week before Lent. It is about being able to do the things you won’t be able to do during Lent, and fully enjoying them one last time.
7. China: Spring Festival
Held in February (2019)
Photo by zuo.jojo (instagram)
The Spring Festival is the most traditional festival for the Chinese. During the Spring Festival, a lot of people celebrate the New Year and celebrations are held throughout the country. The festive atmosphere is lively, and includes activities like welcoming the blessings, offering sacrifices to the ancestors, and praying for the harvest. The festival is rich and colorful, with rich national characteristics. Other countries that are also affected by Chinese culture celebrate this too. It’s known as the most colorful celebration of the year!
8. Bosnia Herzegovina: Baščaršija Nights and Sarajevo Winter
Held in July and in February/March
Photo by Irregam (instagram)
“There are two (at least to me) quite similar festivals in Bosnia that I cannot talk about separately. One happens during the summer, and is called Baščaršija Nights (Baščaršijske Noći) and the other happens during the winter - Sarajevo Winter (Sarajevska Zima). They are both a month long and during that month, different cultural events happen all over the city. Concerts, exhibitions, lectures, workshops… you name it! There is something there for everyone.”
Both are cultural festivals, but the diversity in activities is really what tends to make these festivals stand out. Because these festivals last so long, and are so diverse, they are a perfect activity to check out if you plan to visit Bosnia soon!
9. Brazil: Carnival
Held in February, sometimes partly March
Photo by Ididitya (instagram)
Okay, festivals in Brazil, what comes to mind? Why not mention one of the most famous festivals worldwide: Carnival! The celebrations happen in February or March to mark the beginning of Lent. Our contact in Brazil told us more about what happens during Carnival: “During this time there are many street parades as well as the competitions of the samba schools in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It is important to note that “samba” is a music style typical of Brazil. During this competition the “samba schools” show a colorful and cheerful parade that needs to be perfect in different aspects to beat the competitors. They prepare the entire year just to present the 75 minute parade, which is the time that each school has to show its best performance.”
Carnival is very important in Brazil, and even though it attracts a lot of tourists, it is still something that is close to their culture. Therefore, really a must-visit!
10. Serbia: Nisville Jazz Festival
Held in August
Photo (GypsyKings) by Nisvillejazzfest (instagram)
“Almost every region in Serbia is famous for a festival, but one that is particularly popular is the Nisville Jazz Festival. The Nisville Jazz Festival is an international jazz festival that is held every August in Nis, on the plateau of a low fortress. It is the most visited jazz festival of southeastern Europe that fosters special cultural and musical values.”
The concept of the festival is about mixing the genre of traditional jazz with different types of world music, with prominent influences also from Balkan music. Another fun fact about the festival is that aside from performances there are also musical workshops by some of the performers themselves!
11. Romania: Afterhills Music & Arts Festival
Held in August
Photo by afterhills (instagram)
Romania is slowly but surely increasing in popularity as one of Europe’s top destinations, especially for music festivals. Over the past couple of years, Romania has started hosting a significant number of events of this sort, including Untold, Electric Castle, Neversea Festival, and Summer Well.
Our Romanian friend, however, tells us about another festival: “I am thrilled with our local music festival which takes place right on the outskirts of Lasi, called Afterhills. This year saw the second Afterhills Music & Arts Festival, and I was blown away by both the impeccable organization and the impressive line-up”.
Many of the artists come from Eastern Europe, such as the Bosnian Dubioza Kolektiv, but international artists also perform here!
12. Netherlands: Lowlands and Bevrijdingsfestival
Held in August/5th of May
Our Dutch friend loves to go to music festivals. This is her recommendation: “My personal favorite is the three-day festival: Lowlands. (Which iss originally called “A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise”). It’s one of the biggest music festivals in the Netherlands, mainly because it was one of the first successful ones. They play many genres such as rock, dance, hip-hop and alternative music. Because it’s relatively large there is always something for everyone. I usually go with a big group of friends, and we enjoy every part, from the festival itself to the camping part. The only disadvantage is that it’s pretty expensive and tickets almost always sell out pretty quickly.
"Therefore I also wanted to mention a more accessible festival called the “Bevrijdingsfestival” (Liberation festival). It is actually held in 14 big cities in the Netherlands, on the 5th of May (Bevrijdingsdag/Liberation day), so if you’re in the Netherlands, there will be a festival area nearby! The festival is entirely free and usually hosts a variety of famous Dutch artists and some international ones too. Every year I always visit at least for a few hours!”
In conclusion: if you visit the Netherlands, check out some lineups, and maybe visit the Lowlands festival for an all inclusive festival experience, or visit the more accessible (free) Liberation Festival!
As you have read, there are many festivals around the world! Don’t forget to do some research when going traveling, because, before you know it, you may have missed a great musical adventure.