Traveling the world while celebrating festivals is only as fun as the exciting adventures you embark on and the new experiences you have as you discover foreign cultures. Festivals are a great way to have a fantastic time with others while engaging with local customs in a tangible way. Not to mention it’s an effortless, fun way to spice up your sightseeing plans.
Each year there are tons of different festivals worldwide to choose from but don’t fret, we’ve got you covered! We’ve crafted a list of the best festivals in the world so you can prioritize and start planning your dream trip sooner.
- Best of celebrations around the world
- A mix of culture, religion, and tradition is embedded in carnivals and celebrations.
1. La Tomatina
La Tomatina is the ultimate food fight festival held every August in the town of Buñol. There are many variations of the origin story for La Tomatina, ranging from harmless pranks among children to attacks on an awful musician to townspeople expressing their anger and disappointment with city councilmen.
This friendly fight and the quirky festival are well-attended. In the past, the famed La Tomatina has had as many as 50,000 attendees but in more recent years a ticket system has been introduced to keep the number of participants at or below 20,000. The hour-long battle begins with the firing of water cannons, immediately after which chaos ensues with over 100 tons of over-ripe tomatoes being squashed and flung all over.
2. Carnival of Venice
Carnevale di Venezia or Venice Carnival dates all the way back to the 11th century but came to international acclaim in the 18th century. During the weeks dedicated to Carnival each year, thousands of tourists and locals take to the streets in beautiful costumes and masks to enjoy music, dancing, parties, and the festive atmosphere.
Festivities include live theatrical plays featuring intriguing and comical traditional folk characters, lavish 18th-century-style galas in beautiful old Venetian buildings, open-air street parties, and an award ceremony at Carnival’s closing to celebrate the very best costumes and masks.
3. Boryeong Mud Festival
First staged in 1998 The Boryeong Mud Festival is a fairly new festival celebrated in the coastal town of Boryeong, South Korea. It was originally conceptualized to provide PR for a range of cosmetics created using the nutrient-rich mud from the area but the festival quickly became Korea’s most popular summer festival. Now, Boryeong Mud Festival is just a great excuse to get down and dirty and have some fun.
Each year festival goers head to Daecheon Beach to rock live music, wade in the nutrient-rich mud, and for a chance to try out various mud-related health and beauty products and services. Immerse yourself in nutrient-rich mud at the mud pool, slip down the mudslide or embrace your artistic side by body painting with colored mud, making your own mud soaps, and challenging yourself on the mud maze obstacle course.
4. Holi Festival
Holi is undeniably one of the biggest religious festivals around the world. Dubbed the Festival of Colors, Holi is a springtime celebration of all things good prevailing over evil. The festival also marks the end of winter and the anticipatory celebration of the abundance of the upcoming spring harvest season.
For locals and tourists, Holi offers a chance to play, dance, and sing without a care in the world. Commemorated each year on the day after the full moon in March, people spend the day smearing richly colored powder on strangers, friends, and relatives, throwing colored water at each other, and dancing under water sprinklers.
Great emphasis is placed on Hindu tales about the burning of the demoness Holika and its relation to the festivities, so Holi celebrations are kicked off by large bonfires complete with singing and dancing on the eve of the festival.
5. Rio Carnival
There’s no Carnival like Rio’s Carnival. In fact, it is almost impossible to think of Brazil’s capital city without thinking of its Carnaval. Carnival, as Rio de Janeiro presents it, is one of the most interesting and well-attended cultural celebrations around the world.
Even though the festival’s origins are in ancient Greek revels honoring Dionysus the god of wine, overtime Carnival was modified by the Romans to honor two of their own gods and later the Catholic Church would make its own modifications and have the festival celebrated just before the period of Lent.
Rio de Janeiro has earned its title as the Carnival capital of the world with its famous samba dancing, colorful eye-catching costumes, pulsating music, magnificent float displays, and electrifying energy. Join a samba school (a local samba club) and dance, sing and let loose at one of the best festivals in the world.
6. Yi Peng Festival: Lantern Festival
Yi Peng is held annually in the second lunar month of the year as part of the festival of lights in Northern Thailand. Yi Peng is celebrated all over Thailand but Chiang Mai hosts the largest Yi Peng Festival and tops off its enviable displays with cultural shows and fireworks you won’t want to miss.
During Yi Peng locals’ homes and public places are decked out in colorful hanging lanterns and flag decorations. Festivities include a parade, live music and dance shows, handicraft sessions, and releasing of lanterns into the night sky.
For locals, releasing lanterns is about more than just pretty floating lights. It is commonly believed that releasing lanterns symbolizes letting go of past misfortune and making a clean start.