Music festivals aren’t the only events proliferating the globe. Sonic offerings aside, festivals come in all shapes and sizes, focusing on a variety of mediums and activities. From honoring tradition to celebrating the present, these 7 festivals boast colorful, crazy and extraordinary experiences that are definitely worth traveling for.
1: Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival
Ready, set, samba! Dancing and music (especially the carnival samba) are incorporated into every aspect of Rio de Janeiro’s famous Carnival. Dating back to 1723, the Carnival is a 5-day spectacle that’s held once a year prior to the season of lent. The festival attracts 2 million people per day, and is considered the biggest carnival in the world. The party takes place every February or March and kicks off with the world-renowned Carnival parade. Filled with colorful costumes, samba music, half-dressed people and giant parades, Carnival is a nonstop party you don’t want to miss.
2: Boryeong Mud Festival
Every year, millions of visitors travel to Boryeong, South Korea (located about 2 hours south of Seoul) for the annual Boryeong Mud Festival. At the festival, attendees get down and dirty in pools, slides and wrestling arenas full of (you guessed it) mud. The mud is brought in from the Boryeong mud flats, and is considered to be rich in minerals used to manufacture cosmetics. The festival also features an impressive entertainment line-up. Though the event takes place over a 2-week period, it’s most famous for it’s final weekend (which generally lands on the second week in July).
3: Songkran Water Festival
Songkran Water Festival in Thailand is basically one huge water fight that takes place every April to celebrate the new year. Though the festival is held all over the country, the best place to experience it is in Chiang Mai. During the festival, tens of thousands of people roam the streets armed with squirt guns, water balloons, water cannons and buckets of icy cold water, drenching complete strangers and having a blast.
4: Nabano No Sato
Every winter, numerous Japanese towns and cities glow with impressive festivals featuring extravagant light displays. While these light festivals can be found across the country, the biggest and most impressive is Nabano No Sato. Located just outside Nagoya, the festival is hosted by Nagashima hot spring resort in Mie. During the festival, the Nabano No Sato gardens sprout 8 million LED lights and transform into a psychedelic winter wonderland. Visitors travel from across the globe to attend the light show and snap photos in the famous “tunnel of light.”
5: La Tomatina Festival
This festival has been on my bucket list for a long time, as it’s the only occasion I can think of in which throwing tomatoes at complete strangers is socially acceptable. Claiming the title of “world’s biggest food fight”, La Tomatina festival is held annually in Buñol Spain. During the festival, tens of thousands of people make their way from across the globe to partake in a huge tomato fight where over 100 metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets. The week long festival features music, parades, dancing and fireworks. However, the highlight of the festival – the tomato fight itself – takes place on the last Wednesday of August. On this day, the Tomatina fun begins at 11am when a ham is placed upon a cockaigne pole (a large, greased pole). The tomato fight can begin only when someone is able to climb to the top and bring it down. Once the ham has successfully been “dethroned”, the festival is ready to begin. Attendees encircle the town center (Plaza del Pueblo) in which the tomato arsenal awaits. A canon fires to signal the beginning of the fight, and chaos ensues.
6: Holi Festival
Holi Festival, or Festival of Colors, is celebrated by Hindus around the world. The festival is generally held at the end of February or beginning of March and celebrates the end of winter. During the events, participants throw colored dye at one another, marking the transition from dark winter to bright spring. The largest Holi Festival events take place in India and Nepal, where millions take to the streets to throw clouds of technicolor powder and soak each other with water guns. The festival celebrates a merry mood of casual dishabille and supplies a setting in which people can release inhibitions and celebrate together, unbound by caste or ethnicity.
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany is the world’s biggest party. Every year, the 16-18 day long “Volksfest” attracts more than 7 million visitors to the Theresienwiese fairgrounds (where the event is held). Though Oktoberfest boasts many attractions, the beer, unanimity, is the most important. Inside the beer tents, “liquid gold” flows freely while stein-yielding men in suspenders and Bavarian hats (irolerhüte) sing, dance and drink alongside their Dirndl-wearing counterparts. In addition to the numerous beer tents, the festival also features games, carnival rides, food, and shops.