If you’re planning a trip to one of your bucket list destinations, why not visit during one of the regions’ famous festivals. From elaborate parades to elephant water fights, there are unique festivals in picturesque locations all over the world. For the very best music, film, historical and religious festivals, we’ve mapped out an around-the-world festival itinerary.
January: Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival
There’s no better way to kickstart the new year than Harbin’s Snow and Ice Festival. Illuminated sculptures from locally harvested ice warm the cool nights but dress warm, temperatures can be as low as -11 °F (-24 °C).
February: Mardi Gras
New Orleans, United States
Rio de Janeiro, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venice each have their own way of ushering in the Lenten season, but nowhere does it quite like New Orleans. The French Quarter comes alive with music, food and festivities for Mardi Gras.
Jaipur and Udaipur, India
Each year in March, the Hindu celebrate Holi to honor Krishna, the source of the world’s spiritual energy. Throughout India, locals create elaborate display of color infused in clothing, powder and water. Some of the best Holi festivals can be found in Jaipur and Udaipur.
April: New Year Festival
The Thai New Year is celebrated on one of the hottest days of the year in Thailand. You’ll experience a water fight like no other. Who needs a water gun when you have elephants!
May: Cinco de Mayo
The best place to experience the spirit of the celebration is right where it all began, in Puebla. Just 100 miles outside Mexico City, Puebla is the site of the battle commemorated on Cinco de Mayo. You’ll experience a re-enactment, followed by a parade, music, dancing, food and fun.
This electronic music festival is visited by nearly half a million people each year. The historic city of Boom is host to this circus-like festival.
July: White Nights Festival
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Celebrating the season of the midnight sun, or “white nights,” this festival offers a refined experience including ballet, opera and music.
August: Edinburgh Fringe Festival
You never know what you’ll see at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The lineup is open to all performers, generating a kaleidoscope of entertainment including comedy, cabaret, puppeteers and much more.
The world’s largest and most popular folk festival draws nearly six million visitors to Germany each year. Born from a royal wedding celebration, Oktoberfest has been enchanting crowds with food, music and merriment since 1810.
October: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque, United States
Nothing will take your breath away like a sky full of hot air balloons. Each year, the bright blue Albuquerque skies are the backdrop for sky divers, fireworks and, most notably, hundreds of colorful hot air balloons.
November: Iceland Airwaves
You’ll find an intimate, authentic music festival in Reykjavik each November. The festival started 15 years ago in an airplane hangar and has grown into a favorite for in-the-know festival goers.
December: New Year’s Eve
Ring in the New Year with one of the best fireworks displays in the world. Each year, Sydney presents a stunning pyrotechnic show along with parties, performances and parades.