When visiting new countries, there is always plenty to discover. Historic landmarks, amazing wildlife, and delicious food are just some of the things we all look forward to enjoying on holiday. But what about festivals? Around the world, there are hundreds of iconic cultural festivals that take place every year, each celebrating a different religion or moment in history. In this article, the Skycap News™ team has picked out five (5) of the very best festivals to visit from around the world.
Best Festivals to Visit
#1 The Rio Carnival, Brazil
There’s nowhere else we can really start than with the greatest party on Earth. Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is famous around the world. It celebrates the days leading up to Lent, an important time in the Christian religion. Carnival is synonymous with samba dancing, street parades, music, and dancing, with events taking place in a Sambadrome with tiered viewing for the thousands of spectators.
The now world famous Rio Carnival was first held in 1723. Today, an average of 2 million people attend each day of the Rio Carnival. There’s no better time to explore Brazil, with a few days spent unwinding on Copacabana Beach the perfect way to relax after enjoying the hectic festivities.
#2 Holi, India
Holi is one of the two major annual Hindu festivals to take place in India, alongside Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Holi is the Festival of Color and is designed to celebrate the victory of good over evil. Communities and families come together to celebrate with bonfires and religious rituals before the fun starts with colored paint bombs and water guns taken out onto the streets. Musicians entertain the crowds and there is a jovial atmosphere as everyone lets their hair down and covers themselves from head to toe in paint.
A top tip is not to wear your favorite designer T-shirt during Holi! After the mischief of the day, families and friends gather together to drink thandai – a lightly spiced milk drink, and to enjoy a meal in each other’s company. Should you decide to visit India during this time, you will be encouraged to join in with the celebrations by the locals. India brings out the very best hospitality it has to offer.
#3 The Abu Simbel Sun Festival, Egypt
The Abu Simbel Sun Festival occurs twice a year at the Abu Simbel Temple in Egypt. Without question, it is one of the best festivals to visit in the world. It celebrates the anniversary of the ascension to the throne of King Ramses II on 22 February, and his birthday, on the 22 October. A geological marvel, using technology far ahead of their time, the ancient Egyptians built Abu Simbel. On these two dates, the rising sun illuminates the inner sanctum of the temple in a dazzling display, celebrating the almighty pharaoh.
The festival actually takes place a day later than the king originally meant. It is interesting to note that the entire temple complex had to be moved due to a risk of flooding when the Aswan High Dam was constructed in the 1960s. Despite this, locals and travelers alike flock to the temple before dawn to await the sunrise. The spectacle is accompanied by traditional music and food stalls, and the celebrations last well into the morning. Abu Simbel is an incredible temple in its own right. It should be part of any itinerary in an Egyptian holiday. But time your visit to coincide with the Sun Festival which makes it even more special.
#4 The Harbin Ice Festival, China
The Harbin Ice Festival deemed “the world’s largest ice and snow carnival,” is an annual celebration in China. This decades old event takes place during January of each year. The exact date depends on local weather conditions. It began in the 1960s and has developed into an international ice sculpture competition. Teams from China and abroad create iconic masterpieces to the amazement of onlookers. Besides the competition, there is a party atmosphere in the air with attractions including icy theme parks, alpine skiing and food aplenty highlighted by tasty dumplings.
The event also includes an ice lantern festival, during which traditional Chinese lanterns are released into the sky. Want to attend the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival? Fortunately, Harbin is well connected to other Chinese cities by its fantastic rail network and domestic flights. These logistics make it relatively easy to take in a really unique annual event that must be seen in person to fully appreciate.
#5 White Nights Festival, Russia
Rounding out our top 5 is the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg. The annual summer festival celebrates the midnight sun when the sun never sets. This phenomenon is due to the city’s location in the Arctic Circle. During the two months either side of the summer solstice, the city runs a calendar of events and performances.
Iconic venues such as the Hermitage Theatre and Mariinsky Theatre hold a variety of classical ballets, operas, and orchestral performances. Other events during the festival include the Long Night of the Museums. The highlight of this “long night” involves some of the city’s most popular attractions, opening their doors all night long. This includes the Museum of Political History and the History of Religion Museum, both must sees.
Best Festivals in the World Recap
There are countless more iconic festivals that could have made this list. Inti Raymi in Cusco, Peru celebrates the ancient Incas, while La Tomatina in Valencia, Spain is essentially a food fight. Wherever you choose to travel, timing your trip with a local festival can really enhance your itinerary. Hopefully, this best festivals to visit list will provide you with some unforgettable travel experiences.