10 Of The World’s Best Festivals

For those who enjoy traveling around the world, there’s often a desire to visit authentic, cultural attractions. And despite their international popularity (which often indicates something is “touristy”), festivals are sometimes the best examples of such attractions. Major festivals tend to be unique, energetic celebrations of a given aspect of a region’s culture or history, and offer you an outstanding experience as a traveler.

Without further ado, here are 10 wonderful festivals around the world that you may want to visit!


1. Oktoberfest Beer Festival – Germany

Arguably the most famous festival of any kind in the world, Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany is truly an experience unlike any other. Endless selections of beer, authentic German food and attire, and an incredibly joyous atmosphere are present year after year. The festival is in late September and/or early October.

2. La Tomatina – Spain

Have you ever wanted to have a completely unrestricted and carefree tomato fight? That’s exactly what this late August festival in Bunol, Spain is all about! Truthfully, there’s not much more to it. It’s a gigantic, town-wide tomato fight, and it’s an absolute blast.

3. Venice Carnival – Italy

This February/March festival in Venice has an almost otherworldly vibe, with gorgeous decorations and elaborately costumed visitors. Historically, one idea behind the wearing of masks was to make everyone equals for the evening. Now, it works like a massive celebratory costume party. Given the already present historical allure and mystique of Venice, the idea of dressing up in fantasy attire makes the entire experience like something out of a wonderful fiction.

Venice carnival (Photo by bostjan)

4. Rio Carnival – Brazil

Rio de Janeiro does its Carnival a little bit differently, though elaborate costumes are still part of the equation. The Rio Carnival festival lasts for a week and is a high-energy event, featuring dancing, singing, drinking and partying through the streets. If you’re looking for the biggest party on Earth, this may be your answer.

5. Lollapalooza Music Festival – United States

There are dozens and dozens of great music festivals around the world, but Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois has a legitimate claim as the best of the bunch. The event features an amazing lineup every year, Chicago is absolutely beautiful in August, and the variety of the music (and comedy) on stage is top notch. Not to mention, Chicago knows how to party, and there’s plenty to do in this beautiful midwestern U.S. city in between shows. Consider, for example, a ballgame at the iconic Wrigley Field baseball stadium, or dining out at a famous Chicago-style pizza destination.

6. Saint Patrick’s Day – Ireland

It’s St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, so needless to say it’s an awesome party. However, this is a bit of an all out cultural festival, rather than simply a drinking party. The Dublin festival features film, art, costumes, and great food as well.

Saint Patrick's Day (photo by Seán Curtin)

7. Mardi Gras – United States

In some sense it’s the U.S. version of a Carnival celebration, though Mardi Gras originated as a wild celebration before lent (which for those unaware is a religious period during which people give up certain sins or vices). It has evolved into a total fantasy experience: costumes, food, drink, music, and parades through the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana.

8. Songkran Water Festival – Thailand

Held in mid-April, this is actually the Thailand new year celebration. However, because mid-April in Thailand is unbearably hot, the festival has become an occasion for people to douse one another in water—from buckets, balloons, squirt guns, whatever you can. Think La Tomatina, but with water.

9. Cheltenham Festival – England

There are innumerable great sports events and festivals around the world, but the UK’s Cheltenham horse races are at the top of the list. The horse racing is great, but this event is all about the fan experience. Fans at the festival itself enjoy the chance to show off race day fashion and enjoy Cheltenham’s excellent dining options during races. It’s truly an incredibly fun event.

The Cheltenham Festival ©bbc.co.uk

10. Harbin Ice & Snow Festival – China

This festival is in January each year and is all about the visuals. Basically, this event consists of mind-blowing decorations made out of ice and snow and at night they’re covered with bright lights. It’s a spectacle unlike anything else in the world.

All in all, there are enough special festivals around the world to keep anyone busy for a lifetime. But these are 10 highlights you may want to consider if festival travel interests you.

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Lived in England since 1998 and travelled the world since 2005, visiting over 100 countries on 5 continents. Writer, blogger, photographer with a passion for adventure and travel, discovering those off beat places not yet on the tourist trail. Marco contributes the very best in independent travel tips and lifestyle articles.

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