We’ve posted on this site about a holiday bucket list before, and it’s something everyone who likes to travel ought to think about. You never know when you’re going to have an opportunity to plan a big trip, and having some special sights or destinations in mind when the time comes can be incredibly cool. In this post we’re covering a very similar idea, but focusing specifically on some of the best festivals around the world.
These festivals aren’t merely elaborate street parades. Rather, they’re famous events that can essentially shut down cities or countries for a day of festivity. They’re incredible cultural exhibitions and great opportunities to let loose in a foreign land. So without further ado, let’s get to some of the ones most worthy of a travel bucket list!
Carnival – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
We may as well start with the celebration that might well be the world’s most famous party. Carnival in Rio (and elsewhere in Brazil) is a legendary festival, held annually a few months into the year. Founded on Catholic and Pagan tradition alike, it was initially a food festival before it evolved into more or less an everything festival. There’s food, drink, dancing, music, and costume-like fashion, all around the city and across the streets. It would be hard to define a specific purpose for the festival nowadays, but that almost makes it better. As an account of the event in 2017 put it, it functions as a temporal escape into a fantasy world.
Holi Festival – India (& Elsewhere)
Primarily associated with India, the Holi Festival now takes place in several countries, as well as in some Indian communities (such as college social groups on U.S. campuses) around the world. Known by some as the “Festival of Colors,” it’s a spring celebration with vague religious associations (such as celebrating the victory of good over evil), but has also become something of a generic springtime party. The night before the festival, depending on where you might be celebrating, there may be some religious ceremonies. But the festival itself is basically a giant color fight, in which people use colored powders to pelt and smear each other, and water guns and water balloons to drench one another as well. It’s basically a giant free-for-all and as such one of the most carefree, enjoyable festivals on Earth.
Dia De Los Muertos – Mexico
Dia De Los Muertos, or The Day Of The Dead, is a festival that’s taken on its own form almost as a type of art, or as its own general aesthetic. The Day Of The Dead and images representative of it seems to pop up now and then in culture. The best example might be the cult classic video game Grim Fandango, which first came out in 1998. More recent is another game, “Grim Muerto,” a slot in which, as stated by an Irish casino arcade site, the celebratory atmosphere is the running theme. The festival also featured in the James Bond film Spectre, though in a more literal sense. As for what it is, it’s basically a multi-day, nationwide celebration fo the lives of lost loved ones. Skeletons and Halloween-esque designs are commonplace, and its name is grim, but really it’s a joyous celebration.
La Tomatina – Valencia, Spain
Termed “the world’s biggest food fight,” La Tomatina is, in practice, somewhat like Holi – only with actual tomatoes instead of colorfully dyed powders. Suffice it to say one of the understood norms of the festivals is that people squash up their tomatoes a little bit before throwing them, so as to lighten the impact. Otherwise it’s basically an all-out tomato brawl. It’s held at the end of August during the Bunol festival week, but is basically just for fun.
Mardi Gras – New Orleans, United States
If there’s a single party in a single city that can rival Carnival for general fame worldwide, it might just be Mardi Gras. Essentially its own version of Carnival, it’s held in February and March and basically sees the entire city of New Orleans (which already has a unique and festive culture unto itself) turned into a massive, pageant-like party. Floats pass down famous streets, residents hurl necklaces off of balconies, everyone dresses brightly, and needless to say in a city famous for both, there’s plenty of food and drink to go around. It’s a wild time, arguably with a touch more debauchery than the other events on this list, but incredibly fun all the same.