The end of summer is quickly approaching and many people have enjoyed numerous festivals around the world. However, just because summer in the northern hemisphere is ending, doesn’t mean festival season is over. There are still numerous fall festivals and winter festivals that you can attend. Alternatively, you can start planning for next years summer festivals.
I asked some other travel bloggers to share their favorite festival and the number of responses was incredible. This means, there are a lot of amazing festivals around the world. Therefore, I decided to split up this article into four parts. Read part one here and parts three here and four here.
Here is part two of the best festivals around the world.
Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival (군항제)
At the beginning of spring is one of the most beautiful festivals in the world. South Korea is famous for its cherry trees, and each year they bloom vibrant pink colors. Every year in the city of Jinhae, South Korea, two million people come together to marvel at the beauty of spring. Depending on how spring progresses, the festival can be held in late March or early April.
Initially, this festival was in honor of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin, a Korean Hero. To this day, the naval academy and naval base are open to the public and are hosting demonstrations during the festival.
Many tourists take the time to walk up the One Year Stairs, 365 steps to reach Jinhae Tower. They say that each step represented a day of the year and each step that you take brings you good luck in the upcoming year. Once you reach the peak, you get a magnificent view over the cherry blossoms that are turning the city pink!
The highlight of the festival is Yeojwacheon Stream (여좌천), a 1.5 km tiny stream, lined with cherry blossom trees and walkways. The stream is decorated with lights, hearts, and other signs of love. It is a dreamy walk perfect for a romantic stroll with a loved one or fun pictures with friends.
Winter Lantern Festival In New York City, USA
Written by James Ian from Travel Collecting. Follow him on Pinterest here.
The NYC Winter Lantern Festival takes place from 20 November 2019 to 12 January 2020 at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island in New York City. The festival features nightly performances by Chinese acrobats and dancers. There are also several stalls selling souvenirs and hot chocolate (a welcome respite for the chilly New York winter) and food trucks serving meals. The highlights, however, are the dozens of elaborate displays of lanterns. There are over forty LED installations made from over 1,000 brightly colored fabric lanterns that form complex three-dimensional sculptures.
The entrance to the festival is through an enormous lantern Chinese gate. You then walk along a tunnel of lights and emerge out onto an eight-acre lawn that is strewn with these fantastical displays. There are flocks of flamingos, African animals prowling the grasslands, giant pandas eating bamboo leaves and climbing trees, jellyfish floating in air alongside oversized kelp, beautiful birds, gigantic frogs and flowers, an enormous shark you can walk through, a life-sized T-Rex dinosaur, and even an elongated Chinese dragon swimming along the ground near the main stage area. It is a photographer’s dream, a fantasy land that the children will love, and a welcome addition to the NYC winter holiday scene.
The Flower Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Written by Lindsay Lalonde from Chiang Mai Family Guide. Follow her on Instagram here.
What makes the Flower Festival so unique?
You have never seen such ornate flora displayed in such a stunning way! The care, pride, and preparation that goes into this festival take months of planning. You can expect to see ancient Thai culture, specific to northern Thailand, on display. The particular culture is that of Lanna, which remains strong to this day.
There will be parades, musical and dance performances, awards, and even a beauty contest where a Ms. Flower Festival will be chosen. Also, if you so wish, you may purchase some of the flowers unique to this tropical region to take home. Some vendors even sell seeds that you can easily travel with and try to grow in your home soil.
Where is the best place to experience the Flower Festival in Chiang Mai?
The festival will take place in various locations in the old city, or downtown. The most important locations to visit will be Nong Haad Buak Public Park where the opening ceremony and awards ceremony for best flower float typically take place.
You’ll want to head over in the evenings to Thapae Gate or Three King’s Monument for special performances, and during the day on Saturday and Sunday, you will enjoy seeing the special Flower Festival parade floats up close along the southwest side of Chiang Mai’s ancient moat.
The Flower Festival parade
You’ll want a front-row seat to see the procession of ornate, beautifully, and painstakingly hand-decorated floats. The parade route usually begins at Thapae Gate and ends at Nong Haad Buak Park. Get out on the route early as the procession begins early in the morning.
Is there a schedule for the Flower Festival events?
The schedule for the Flower Festival in Chiang Mai changes every year but can be found on display at Nong Haad Buak Park. Unfortunately, information has only been available in Thai in the past, however, there are times listed and many locals will be around to inquire about a translation.
It’s a flower photographer’s dream!
Your friends will be envious of the gorgeous photos you will have! You’ll be surrounded by vivid colors not seen anywhere else. There truly is nothing quite like this anywhere in the world.
Hope to see you at the next Flower Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand!
Las Fallas, Valencia Spain
Written by Laura from Travelers Universe. Follow her on Instagram here.
Las Fallas Festival takes place in Valencia, Spain every spring between the 1st and the 19th of March. This is a long festival, but in reality, the last five days are the most action-packed.
It’s when the huge and colorful paper mache puppets are constructed in almost every single square. Firecracker shows are organized in front of the Town Hall at noon. Locals take on the streets dressed up in out-of-this-world beautiful silk costumes. A 14 meters high statue of the Virgin Mary is covered in red, pink, and white carnations. And food stalls selling churros, hot chocolate, and buñuelos (a local doughnut-like pastry) take over the streets of Valencia.
The festival has great vibes and is considered the largest street party in Europe. You’ll see people dancing, eating, and drinking in the streets for almost a week straight. Everybody can join in the fun and this is fantastic because no matter where you come from, you will fit right in.
Now one thing is super important to know. Since most activities are free, Las Fallas can be enjoyed on a budget. The only caveat is the accommodation. This is considered peak season and hotels fill up quickly. So you have to figure out where to stay in Valencia far in advance or otherwise finding a good hotel within your budget might prove an almost impossible task.
Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan
Written by Chloe from Chloe’s Travelogue. Follow her on Instagram here.
The lantern festival is an ancient Chinese custom that family and friends get together to ring in the new year and make a wish on the first full moon of the year. This tradition happens every year on the 15th day of the 1st month in the Lunar Calendar. (The date changes every year on the Gregorian Calendar.)
In Taiwan, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is the most popular festival of its kind. Thousands of people from all over the world come to Pingxi, a sleepy town tucked in the mountain, to see the glowing lanterns floating away in the dark sky. The lucky participants even get to write down their wishes on the giant paper lanterns with a calligraphy brush, then release them together in the air. It is quite a fantastic sight to witness!
This Tangle-inspired moment is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, I have to admit that I was unprepared for this event. I faced many challenges from finding the event information in English to getting to the event site due to misleading information. I am grateful that I got to join in the festivity and even win the ticket to participate in the official release of the sky lanterns by the kindness of a stranger.
I made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to experience mishaps. Before you go, read my article on my website, A Guide To The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. The guide includes how to get there from Taipei, how to win the tickets for the official release of the sky lanterns, and other alternative lantern festivals in Taiwan.
Written by Abigail King from Inside the Travel Lab.
Candles on the balconies, candles on the stairs, candles on the riverfront, and candles sending prayers. The candle festival, or Birgufest, in Malta, combines a love for candlelight with one of the prettiest places in the world. Birgu, also known as Vittoriosa, dazzles on any normal day with its honeycomb streets, historic architecture, picturesque waterway, and view of the Grand Harbour. During Birgufest, that beauty increases a thousandfold as residents take to the streets, sharing soulful music, street food, and candlelight in a free-to-attend family-friendly atmosphere.
Held every autumn, Birgufest also includes open entry to Vittoriosa’s key sights, like Fort St Angelo and the former Inquisition. Knights roam around in costume, a throwback to Malta’s key position as a base for the Knights of St John. Jellied eels and bright pink sweets pop up because, well, it’s a festival. Birgu has attracted quite an artistic expat crowd over the years, so expect shops stocking hand-printed artwork and hand-sewn gifts.
Transport in and out can be tremendously congested so try to stay within walking distance of the festival or arrange a reputable taxi as far in advance as possible. It’s not the kind of festival where you need to camp in a field for days. Just an afternoon visit to stroll around and the evening to spend dancing should make the most of this unusually beautiful place.
The Qoyllority Festival in Peru
Written by Ariana from World of Travels with Kids. Follow her on Instagram here.
The Qoyllority Festival takes people’s breath away – in more ways than one! It takes place at a whopping 4670m / 15321 ft altitude in the remote high Andes, about 3 hours’ drive from Cusco, Peru. A fascinating mix of local Andean beliefs and the Catholic religion, the Festival of our Lord of Qoyllority takes place in the week immediately preceding the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi. As such, the date moves between May and June each year.
If the location, at the foot of the receding Sinakara Glacier, is not enough, this eclectic celebration draws over 10,000 pilgrims each year. The majority come from remote villages in the mountains. There they dance in a range of incredibly colorful costumes over 4 days in veneration of both the mountains and the Lord.
On the fourth day, the pilgrims head off on a night pilgrimage through the mountains so that they arrive at a particularly significant place in the middle of the mountains at dawn. The ceremony to greet the sun on this morning is one of the most incredible sights I have been privileged to witness in all my travels. Thousands of brightly colored dancers congregated on a freezing hillside to watch the sun come up.
The Pilgrimage of Qoylloriti begins at a high altitude of 4060m. It winds over 8.5 km passing the 12 Stations of the Cross before arriving at the Sanctuary proper, where the festival is carried out. The amazing Qoyllority Festival will only appeal to hardy travelers – but those that make the trek will be blessed. As a bonus – most will return to Cusco Peru after the festival, and should most definitely stay for the feast day of Corpus Christi. This is one of Cusco Peru’s biggest festivals as the streets and thoroughfares fill with the worship of the saints.
Pukkelpop Music Festival, Belgium
Written by Annie from Off Goes Annie. Follow her on Instagram here.
Although not a huge festival, Pukkelpop is one of the best music festivals in Europe. Exceedingly well organized, it promises an amazing lineup of rock, pop, indie, hip hop, and dance acts, a multitude of awesome things to do, and great facilities for attendees. Pukkelpop is held annually in August in Kiewit-Hasselt, just two hours from Brussels, Belgium. Priding itself on its wide variety of performers, previous headliners have included Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Radiohead, Nirvana, Kendrick Lemar, Dua Lipa, and Eminem.
There are two main campsites, where your party will be allocated to a plot according to the number of people, with hot showers and very clean bathrooms. To make it even better, festival attendees get free train travel from anywhere in Belgium, to and from the festival.
What’s special about Pukkelpop is its sense of community and ability to bounce back after a disaster. In 2011, Pukkelpop was hit by a freak storm, causing several stage tents to collapse and the whole infrastructure of the festival to be largely destroyed. Five people were tragically killed in the incident, with many more injured. It hit world news and the festival was canceled immediately as the unforeseen storm wreaked havoc across Belgium. Despite this, Pukkelpop came back even stronger the following year, with a sense of strength and community forever running through the amazing yearly weekend event.
Written by Eric Wychopen from Ontario Away. Follow him on YouTube here.
If you’re looking for a festival that moves the soul, look no further than Ottawa Bluesfest. Occurring in Ottawa, Ontario – about 4.5 hours from Toronto – this annual event in July always turns Canada’s capital city into a party for 10 days. The fact that it follows Canada Day celebrations on July 1st doesn’t help calm the city down, either!
Ottawa Bluesfest is located at the Lebreton Flats Festival Grounds – a great green space just a short walk from the heart of downtown Ottawa. Besides the music, the best part about the grounds is that you get sweeping views of the Ottawa River and into Quebec.
What makes Bluesfest an amazing festival is the sheer size – and the way it has evolved over the years. While the name “Bluesfest” might lead one to believe it’s all about hearing Blues acts, one of the 2019 headliners was The Backstreet Boys! Over its 25-year period, the festival has shifted to include other genres as well as both local and top international performers. This has allowed for a more diverse fan base to enjoy the festival year after year!
Another truly unique aspect of the festival is the fact that the festival grounds surround the Canadian War Museum – a “top Ottawa attraction” – and festival-goers get free entry with their festival passes. With multiple stages, multicultural food stands, and entertainment for the kids, Ottawa Bluesfest is a great event that brings people together.
Vivid Sydney is an annual festival of light, music, and ideas. While all strands are fantastic, it’s the immersive outdoor light installations that steal the show. What began in 2009 as a festival to highlight energy efficiency has transformed into one of the most popular events on Sydney’s calendar and the largest festival of its kind in the world.
Each year images of the Opera House sails adorned in stunning designs beam across tv screens around the world. While she always steals the show, there is so much more to this festival than the Opera House centerpiece. Smaller installations are hidden in the back lanes of the Rocks, Sydney’s Old quarter, and the dozen or so installations scattered around in the Royal Botanic Gardens. They are every bit as impressive as the Harbour icons. Even Taronga Zoo joins the action.
Over 23 days in the middle of Sydney’s winter, 2.3 million people, both local and international visitors, spent a few hours braving the cold to experience the show. The lights go on at 6 pm as darkness blankets the city and are turned off at 11 pm.
The best way to experience it is over a couple of nights rather than trying to cover the who thing in one night. It’s also great to jump on a ferry and watch the show from the water.
- Where: Sydney Harbour and various other city locations
- When: Late May to mid-June every year
I hope you now have some great ideas to plan your travel to go see some of these wonderful festivals. This was part two, so if you missed part one from last week, read about them here. Part three and four are coming up over the next two weeks.