As the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee approaches, the UK is preparing for a big celebration so what better time to take a look at other celebrations around the world and how you can join in.
End of the Mayan Cycle and the Festival of Santo Tomas
The Mayan Calendar mark cycles of time, and 21st December 2012 is thought to be the end of a significant cycle, which is now being regularly touted as ‘The End of The World’. To mark this event, and the beginning of the new Mayan cycle, we have planned our tour to celebrate both the ancient and modern day Mayans. This tour combines visits to the ancient sites of Copan, Tikal, Quirigua, Ceibal and Uaxactun, with visits to Mayan villages near to the colonial city of Antigua and on Lake Atitlan. The tour ends in the famous market town of Chichicastenango where the main day of the town’s colourful Santo Tomas celebrations coincides this year with the festivities marking ‘the End of the Mayan Cycle’.
Experience it: End of the Mayan Cycle and Festival of Santo Tomas. Departs 11th December 2012
Also see it on: Indian Mexico, Indian Mexico plus Yucatan & Caribbean Extension. Both depart 9th December 2012.
Harbin Ice Festival
Set in the far north of China, close to the border with Russia, Harbin plays host to the Snow & Ice Festival during January and February each year. There are three main parts to the festival but almost everywhere you look there is an ice sculpture of some sort, with the central cobbled street of Zhongyang Dajie and the banks of the Songhua River lined with highly detailed ice creations. By far the most dramatic of the displays is the Snow & Ice World. Opening each evening as the sun sets there are dramatic buildings carved in ice and lit in bold neon colours. Previous festivals have included sculptures of the Great Wall of China and Big Ben as well as animals, mythical creatures and scenes from Chinese Folklore. Temperatures can reach a chilly minus 30 degrees but there is always a hot cup of tea available to help warm up and the atmosphere does go a long way to helping you forget just how cold it is.
Experience it: Harbin Ice Festival and Chinese New Year. Departs 1st February 2013.
Pushkar Camel Fair
Pushkar is one of the oldest towns in India and most widely known for the annual camel fair which is held there each November. Each year the festival grows and nowadays up to 300,000 people are expected to visit during the two-week celebrations as well as 20,000 camels, horses and cattle. The festival is a fantastic blur of colour and excitement with brightly decorated camels, stunning saris and traditional Rajasthani clothing as locals, traders and tourists all come together. The festival offers a large array of local crafts for sale, camel cart rides to cover the vast site and musicians performing and keeping the party atmosphere going. It’s a great opportunity to meet the local people and share in their most important celebration of the year.
Experience it: Rajasthan - Land of the Maharajahs. Special departures on 18th, 19th and 20th November 2012.
Day of the Dead Festival
Far from being a sober occasion the ‘The Day of the Dead’ (Dia de los Muertos) celebrations in Mexico are colourful and lively. In a blend of indigenous and Catholic beliefs, it is believed that the spirits of the departed return to earth one day a year to be with their families. In preparation families decorate the grave and build an alter in their homes. Decorations include flowers, food the person liked and sentimental items associated with them. Families tend to gather around the grave in the cemetery where there is a party atmosphere with eating, drinking and music, often through the night. In towns and cities there are also lively parades and festivities. On our tour we witness some of the most lively celebrations in the colonial city of Oaxaca.
Experience it: Indian Mexico, Indian Mexico plus Yucatan & Caribbean Extension. Both depart 29th October 2012.
Find out some of the other celebrations you could be having on one of our tours around the world