We now have the fourth and final part of our Best Festivals Around The World. They have included large festivals and small festivals. Some are new festivals and some have been around for years. They have also included music festivals, beer festivals, gin festivals, and many others. In case you missed the other parts you can read part one here, part two here, and part three here.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Written by Emma Caldwell from Emma Jane Explores. Follow her on Instagram here.
The New Orleans Mardi Gras needs little introduction as it is a world-famous celebration of parties, parades, and joy centered around the Louisiana capital city in the southern USA. The festival officially takes place from late February and runs until Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday as they tend to call it in New Orleans). For weeks after the official celebrations are over, giant Mardi Gras masks adorn the balconies of the houses in the French Quarter, colored beads thrown from floats remain stuck in tree branches and a general feeling of debauchery and excess remains.
The feature of the Mardi Gras celebrations is most definitely the parade schedule. You will see enormous floats decorated vibrantly and carrying masked people throwing beads and trinkets winding their way through the city. New Orleans is fun at any time of year, but seeing these parades is a wonderful sensory overload and well worth braving the crowds to experience. Obviously, a visit to New Orleans in Mardi Gras season can be quite expensive, with accommodation booking up months in advance, so a good second option is to visit just after Fat Tuesday – you won’t see the parades, but the party vibe and Mardi Gras masks and beads are still around town for all to enjoy.
The World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
Written by Erika Bisbocci from Erika’s Travels. Follow her on Instagram here.
The World Nomad Games is a biennial celebration of Central Asian athletics. Sometimes dubbed the ‘Olympics of the Nomads,’ the free event is a stunning and authentic display of music, dance, theater, and sport. Since its launch in 2014, the festival has taken place every other September, along Lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan.
Though still a relatively new festival, the World Nomad Games, a celebration of nomadic life, has been hugely successful since its inception. During its first year, it attracted 600 athletes from nineteen different countries. Four years later, the third edition of the event hosted 2,000 competitors from over seventy independent nations.
Competitions at the World Nomad Games take place over the course of a week. In addition to sporting events, spectators can enjoy watching yurt-building competitions, interacting with local artists, and meandering through stalls of locally-made handicrafts.
The World Nomad Games takes place at two locations along Kyrgyzstan’s Lake Issyk Kul: the Hippodrome and the Kyrchyn Gorge Jailoo. The Kyrchyn Gorge Jailoo is a yurt-speckled mountain pasture outside of Cholpon Ata that hosts competitions of archery and eagle hunting. The area also houses the event’s cultural performances, fashion shows, and dance competitions.
Half an hour away, the Hippodrome is a large stadium near downtown Cholpon Ata that hosts the most high-profile competitions at the World Nomad Games. At the Hippodrome, spectators can watch horseback wrestling, horse racing or Kok Boru—the event’s most anticipated sport.
Kok Boru is a form of polo played on horseback, using a headless goat carcass instead of a ball. The objective—like a form of basketball—is to launch the carcass into circular rings that are defended by the opposing team.
The World Nomad Games is an event unlike any other. The week-long celebration of nomadic life offers a window into an area of the world that is often ignored by travelers and misunderstood by the media. With its dazzling cultural displays, its centuries-old athletic traditions and its opportunities for authentic interactions with Kyrgyz locals, the world’s largest nomadic festival is an ultimate bucket list experience.
Durga Puja of West Bengal, India
Every year, we look forward to the annual festival of Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsav, a festival that marks the victory of Good over Evil. Durga Puja is one of the most awaited festivals for Bengalis across the globe, the preparation of which begins months in advance. This festival is celebrated for ten days in the Indian state of West Bengal, as well as in many other states and countries. This year, the festival will be celebrated from the 4th of October to the 8th of October, followed by a grand immersion of the idols.
According to legend, the festival signifies the birth of Goddess Durga to fight the demon king Mahishasura. He was given a boon that no man-god can kill him, which is why a goddess had to accomplish the deed. In the ten days of the celebration, we worship Goddess Durga and seek her blessings to fight the demons of our life.
The credit of the origin of the community puja goes to the twelve friends of Guptipara in Hoogly district of West Bengal, who collected donations from residents to arrange the first community puja in 1790. The modern Durga Puja provides a medium where artists and designers come together to produce new urban art, providing a unique dimension to it through its pandals and idol making. This festival is not only about the rituals, but also about its people.
According to Sangeet Natak Academy, Kolkata’s Durga Puja is India’s official nomination for UNESCO’s 2020 list of cultural institutions that requires preservation.
Salon Du Chocolat in Korea
Every winter for one long weekend, Korea’s largest chocolate festival takes over an entire convention center in the capital city of Seoul. The Salon Du Chocolat is held in January, but the festival has iterations all around the world, including in Tokyo, Lima, and Paris, where it was first held in 1994. As with the other versions, Seoul’s Salon features a daily chocolate fashion show. Chocolatiers and craft chocolate makers from across the country, along with numerous food artisans attend the festival. If you sign up online ahead of time, entrance is free.
The 2019 edition included merengue cookie specialists, cacao wholesalers, and coffee roasters. A cake decorating competition took place, and many chocolate samples were available. Over the last few years, the show has geared itself more towards education, so consumers can learn all about how chocolate is made and try some of the world’s newest chocolate innovations. While some vendors do speak English, be aware that some might not, and you’ll have to use a translation app to ask any questions.
The Chocolate Festival is family-friendly. There’s an area with events for kids, bringing chocolate learning hands-on and starting the world’s future chocoholics outright.
Dev Diwali in Varanasi India
Dev Diwali is celebrated 15 days after the famous Indian festival of Diwali. Though Diwali is celebrated everywhere in India, Dev Diwali is celebrated only in Varanasi. The Festival of Dev Diwali falls in November but the exact date is calculated according to the Hindu calendar. This festival comes 15 days after Diwali and falls on full moon night, which is known as Karthik Purnima according to the Hindu calendar.
According to popular belief, the Dev Diwali is the festival of light for God. According to mythological stories on this day Gods and goddesses visit the Ghats of Ganga to take the bath in the river. Dev Diwali is the biggest festival in Varanasi. On this day all the 87 ghats of Ganga River are illuminated with thousands of earthen lamps. The calm water of Ganga reflects the flickering lights of lamps and it is a beautiful spectacle. These days the illumination of Ghats is also done with electric string lights.
Other than lighting the ghats of Ganga, several cultural activities happen at the different Ghats across the river. There are music and dance performances by popular artists on the makeshift stages set up parallel to Ganga River. The firework is also done on few ghats for the entertainment of people. The best way to experience this festival is by walking on ghats and enjoying the activities closely. If you don’t like crowds or it makes you uncomfortable then take a boat ride in the river, this way you can see all the activity in peace. These boats sail close to the ghats to provide a good view.
Dia de Muertos in Mexico City
Written by Halef from The Round The World Guys. Follow them on YouTube here.
San Andrés Mixquic is a small town outside Mexico City. This sleepy little town ironically comes alive once a year during Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations. Mixquic hosts one of the most authentic Dia de Muertos celebrations you’ll find in this part of Mexico.
Street vendors sell food to tourists, bands play on the main stage, and street performers do their thing in the neighborhoods. The whole time, locals have busily been preparing for the return of their ancestors this night. Every flower imaginable is used to meticulously decorate each grave in town, but marigolds are the star of each canvas. Their petals also line paths throughout the town, showing ancestors their way home.
At night, as the sun sets, the graveyard becomes a sea of candlelight as families sit with their loved ones, remembering those who passed before them. It is truly a sight to see.
Getting to Mixquic, while a long drive, isn’t too hard. Just take an Uber, a taxi, or the Metro. Getting back to Mexico City is another thing entirely. Those tens of thousands of people place an almost unbearable strain on the local cellular network. If you’re looking for an Uber – or even directions on Google Maps – you might be out of luck. Try to arrange transportation in advance. Here are a few things to know before you go to Mixquic.
Open’er Festival in Gdynia, Poland
Gdynia is the lesser-known neighboring town of Gdańsk in Poland. It’s worth visiting not only because of its modern architecture, freshness, and interesting history but also because of regular events taking place there. One of the most recognizable of them is the Open’er Festival. Its fame spreads around the whole of Europe enticing music fans of different nationalities to visit the Polish coast.
The festival is a colorful mix of art and music world. It warms up Gdynia each summer since 2003. A few huge scenes offer various kinds of music and each year hosts the biggest stars such as Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Björk, Bruno Mars, Jack White, Radiohead, George Ezra, LP, and many, many others. Additionally, it offers chillout zones, silent discos, DJs’ parties, and delightful food from the best food trucks.
Open’er Festival takes place in distant Gdynia’s district – Kosakowo, surrounded by festive campings. Special buses from the city center are dedicated to festival-goers during every day of the festival which usually lasts 4 days. The whole event takes place in July and by regular fans is associated with… rainy weather. So don’t be surprised by seeing people wearing gumboots in Kosakowo. That’s the charm of Open’er Festival which doesn’t bother the music fans.
The Festival of Lights in Paris, France
Written by Elisa from World in Paris. Follow her on Facebook here.
The Festival of Lights (Festival des Lumières in French) is one of the coolest events happening in Paris in the Winter. This festival takes place every year in Jardin des Plantes, in the 5th Arrondissement of Paris, France.
For one month, usually starting around mid-December, the alleys and the pitches of Le Jardin des Plantes and the Ménagerie are invaded by monumental light structures, like Chinese lanterns. It is a fantastic atmosphere and a poetic night stroll that we recommend to everybody visiting Paris in the winter.
Every year, the exhibition treats a different subject. For example, last year the Exhibition was about the endangered or disappeared species on our planet. Visitors could see sculptures like dinosaurs, polar bears, or mammoths during the show. Also, there were vegetal decorations and some alleys were completely covered by light flowers and plants. We can’t wait to see what the topic of the exhibition this year is!
Needless to say, the Festival of Lights is perfect for families, the kind of event where kids and adults have fun. Because the festival starts late in the afternoon when Paris gets dark, and the exhibition area is vast, we recommend wearing an additional layer of clothing. Carrying a thermos with hot tea is not a bad idea either.
Plano Balloon Festival
Colorful hot air balloons float across the crisp autumn air for Texas’s biggest Balloon Festival every year in September. 2019 mark’s 40-years of Ballooning in Plano, and we have been going every year since we moved to the area. Thanks to the Plano Balloon Festival, it has made me fall in love with hot air balloons. We have been on hot air balloon rides in the Serengeti and the Sonoran desert!
The Balloon Festival usually opens with a Parachute team flying in to kick off the 3-day celebration. Weather permitting on Saturday and Sunday mornings the colorful balloons are launched and there is a Balloon Fly-in Competition. In the evenings, a concert is usually playing at the center stage at Oak Point Park where the event is held. You can find the best churros and delicious hotdogs or some fried guacamole at the many food stalls at the festival. When it gets dark enough it is time for a balloon glow and a spectacular firework show to wrap up the evening. Over the last couple of years, they have also hosted a Half Marathon, Relay, 5K, and 1K Runs. Plano Balloon Festival is a fun and family-friendly festival to attend!
The Mid Autumn Festival in Hong Kong, China.
The Mid Autumn Festival in Hong Kong is one of the most celebrated festivals. You can expect various parades, fireworks, people gatherings, and plenty of decorations in the celebrating areas of the city.
It’s always on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar. The celebrations are usually a couple of days before and after this date. This year it was celebrated from September 13th until September 15th.
It’s the second-largest celebration in China after the Chinese New Year, and Hong Kong is one of the best places to celebrate it. The dragon parade is especially spectacular. The celebrations in Victoria Park where thousands of people gather should not be missed.
The parade can be seen on the last day. The police will block the entry to main roads, and people will line up in the streets to see the spectacle show. It’s recommended to get there early if you want a good spot! In Victoria Park, you will find sculptures, kid’s playgrounds, small shops, and vendors selling everything from fruit to handicrafts.
This is also the time of the year when you eat mooncakes, a real treat with wonderful flavors, but don’t eat too many because one mooncake can contain 1000 calories or more!
I hope you enjoyed reading the four-part series about some of the best festivals in the world. I know there are many, many more. So, what is your favorite festival, or what do you think is the best festival in the world?