Escape the frantic shopping, wrapping and cooking ‘festivities’ that characterise winter at home in favour of the colour, light and music of some of the world’s greatest celebrations. Here are our BIG 15 events and festivals to brighten your winter.
1.Diwali, India - 7 November 2018
Every year, in autumn, Diwali floods Rajasthan’s towns and villages
with colour and light. Visiting India during Diwali
is a magical and memorable experience - lamps are lit in their thousands, while the sky is awash with the colour of fireworks.
2.Tet, Vietam – 5 February 2019
Vietnamese New Year
is the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture, when families come together to decorate trees, swap gifts and enjoy large traditional feasts. Throughout the country, cultural performances are put on during Tet, such as traditional dragon and lion dances in the street.
3.Day of the Dead, Mexico – 31 October – 2 November 2018
Day of the Dead
is celebrated throughout Mexico when it believed that souls of the departed come to visit their living relatives. Far more positive and vibrant than its name suggests, ‘Dia de los Muertos’ has a carnival atmosphere, with parades and markets filling the streets.
4.Harbin Ice Festival, China – 5 January – 28 February 2019
The annual Ice and Snow Festival
is famous for its huge illuminated snow and ice sculptures. Life-sized buildings and monuments are sculpted from ice in three snow ‘worlds’ and accompanied by bright lights and music.
5.Timkat Festival, Ethiopia – 19 January
Ethiopia's epiphany celebration
commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. Watch processions of Tabots (replicas of the Ark of the Covenant) carried through towns and villages by local priests, while pilgrims gather in brightly coloured festival clothes to sing, chant and play instruments.
6.Pushkar Camel Fair, India – 15-23 November 2018
Held every autumn at the time of the full moon, the Pushkar Camel Fair
is an annual livestock fair on an epic scale. It attracts thousands of camels, horses, cattle, traders and of course visitors to this Rajasthani town for a colourful spectacle that lasts a couple of weeks.
7.Chinese New Year, Hong Kong - 5 February 2019
The biggest event in the Chinese calendar, New Year is a fantastic time to visit. See in the Year of the Pig in spectacular style – head for the waterfront in Tsimshatsui
and watch the fireworks over Victoria harbour.
8.Kumbh Mela, India - 15 January – 4 March 2019
This mass pilgrimage
is the world’s biggest congregation of people. Taking place roughly once every three years, the gathering is attended by various sects of Sahus, or holy men, who each demonstrate their devotion to the gods in different ways.
9.Surva Festival, Bulgaria – 25 - 27 January 2019
Surva, the International Festival of the Masquerade Games
, is held each year in the Bulgarian town of Pernik. Competitive events run alongside traditional rituals that originate from Pagan times, both involving a fascinating array of weird and wonderful costumes.
10.Black Necked Crane Festival, Bhutan - 11 November 2018
Every year, the Bhutanese people
celebrate the return of the Black-Necked Crane to the Phobjika Valley with a festival that includes folk music and dancing. The event celebrates this endangered bird species and does important work in educating people on the birds’ conservation and protection.
11.Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan - 4 – 11 February 2019
The annual snow festival
has been held in Sapporo, norther Japan, since 1950. See the enormous snow and ice sculptures in Odori Park, which are lit up at night, or try snow related activities like sliding or rafting down a snow slide, at Tsu Dome.
12.Hornbill Festival, India – 1-10 December 2018
Held every year in Nagaland, this ‘festival of festivals’
brings together people from all the state’s various tribes in a celebration of diversity and inter-tribe understanding. People from each tribe perform traditional rituals, dances and folk songs and display their own clothing, jewellery and artwork, while stalls sell local curries and other treats.
13.Adivasi Mela, India – 26 January – 9 February 2018
Meet the fascinating aboriginal tribe of Adivasi Mela, India’s first people, in Bubaneshwar for their annual tribal fair.
People from all 62 tribes come together in a huge exhibition ground where they share their traditions and wares.
14.Spring Blossom in Murcia – from mid-February
Escape the winter blues and take in a kaleidoscope of colour in Spain’s Murcia region
where, at the end of winter, the peach, plum and nectarine trees burst into flower, flooding the countryside with colour. The best way to take in the valleys and orchard landscapes of this picturesque region is on two wheels.
15.Adam’s Peak Pilgrimage season – December – May (at full moon)
While not strictly a ‘festival’, the pilgrimage season at Adam’s peak is an event not to be missed if visiting Sri Lanka
at this time of year. Experience a night-time ascent
of Sri Lanka’s holiest mountain in the company of local pilgrims and see the breathtaking sunrise.