When it comes to festivals, India offers a diverse mix. You would believe that you have seen it all, and understandably so.
But such is not the case. Each and every city in the world has its own set of traditions and celebrations.
Here is a list of where you need to be every month:
January – Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China
It is an annual winter festival that commences on 5th January and goes on for the entire month and was started in 1963, originally as apart of the ice lantern show and garden party. Today, it has become a competition, where participants construct huge ice sculptures based on a theme. The two major exhibition areas are Sun Island and Ice and Snow World. The festival also includes other snow activities.
February – Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It dates all the way back to 1723 and is the biggest carnival in the world, with an estimated footfall of two million people per day in the week-long festivities. Samba schools participate in the street parade, which is filled with floats, revellers and adornments from these schools, based on the genres of marchinhas, pop, rock, and story-based dances, among others.
March – Saint Patrick’s Day, Ireland
Also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick, this cultural cum religious festival is held on 17th March every year, the traditional date of the death of Saint Patrick and is celebrated in many parts of the world. As an observance, people attend mass or service on this day. They also attend parades and ceilithes, wear green and shamrocks and drink Irish beer and whiskey.
April – Songkran Water Festival, Thailand
Songkran, literally translating to “astrological passage”, marks the traditional New Year Day from 13th-15th April in Thailand (and some other parts of South and Southeast Asia) as per the Hindu/Buddhist solar calendar. In celebration, people pour water, symbolise the washing away of all their sins and bad luck. Sometimes, fragrant herbs are also added to the mix.
May –White Nights Festival, Russia
Also known as the Stars of the White Night, this is annual international arts festival celebrated in St. Petersburg during the season of the midnight sun. The dates and months are flexible. It is characterised by classical ballet series, opera, and musical events. It culminates with the Scarlet Sails, which consists of a breath-taking firework show, celebrating the end of the school year.
June – Glastonbury Festival, England
It is a five-day music festival that takes place in Somerset in the last week of the month. It was founded in 1970, and has been held almost every year since. Apart from contemporary music, it also involves dance, comedy, circus, theatre, cabaret, and other arts. The genres include but are not limited to pop, rock, world, hip hop, and electronic.
July – Pflasterspektakel, Austria
Literally translating to pavement spectacle, this is a three-day street art festival. It includes juggling, acrobatics, musical acts, fire dancing, pantomime, clownery, improvisational theatre, samba parades, and painting. Artists from many different nations all over the world participate in the event, which was originally called International Street Musician Days when it was founded in 1987.
August – La Tomatina, Spain
Started in 1945, this popular festival is held in Bunol on the last Wednesday of the month. Participants have a full-fledged food fight, solely with tomatoes and purely for entertainment. It has interesting rules, such as squashing tomatoes before throwing them, using nothing but tomatoes, making way for trucks, and stopping when the end is indicated. The ticketed event usually lasts about an hour.
September – Burning Man – Black Rock Desert, USA
It is an annual gathering that takes place at Black Rock City, which is a temporary community. It is an experiment in community and art and is guided by 10 main principles; radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation and immediacy. The event takes its name from the symbolic ritual burning of a large wooden effigy; “The Man”.
October – Oktoberfest, Germany
Held in Munich, this is the world’s largest beer festival and travelling funfair and boasts of a high attendance of over 6 million people from all over the world. It is a 16-day event and has been traditionally held every year for over two centuries now (yes, through all the World Wars); the schedule was even modified in response to the German reunification!
November – Day of the Dead, Mexico
It consists of families and friends getting together to remember and pray for close relatives that have died and support them on their spiritual journey. People build altars called ofrendas and honour the deceased with sugar skulls, marigolds and favourite foods, visiting the graves with these gifts. It is a part of the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
December – Klausjagen, Switzerland
Literally translating to Nicholas chase, the festival takes place on the eve of St. Nicholas Day. It is believed that the procession has its roots in pre-Christian pagan traditions, which involved chasing wild spirits. It is organised in six stages and lasts far into the night. It also called Chasing the Claus, in reference to Santa Claus.
Pick your favourite, book your plane tickets, and plan your 2016 calendar accordingly!