Festivals of the World

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festivals of the worldFestivals of the World

Festivals are always a wonderful way to enjoy a new place that you are visiting or traveling.  Usually full of music, great food, costumes and just a hell of a lot of fun, you really can’t go wrong.  Here are just some of the festivals from all over the world that I can’t wait to experience one day.  I think it goes without saying that there are far more that have my interest than this short list.

Holi Festival

Where – Primarily in India, Nepal and other regions with significant Hindu population.  More recently, it’s been celebrated in areas of Europe and North America as well.

When – Dates vary every year as it is celebrated on the Full Moon at the approach of the vernal equinox – typically in March.

What – Holi celebrations start with a bonfire the night before along with singing and dancing.  The next morning is a free-for-all carnival of colors where everyone plays, chases and colors each other with dry powder and colored water, with some carrying water guns and colored water-filled balloons.  

festivals of the world, holi festival



Where – Venice, Italy

When – The carnival ends with Lent, or Fat Tuesday – 40 days before Easter.

What – A masked extravaganza including a ball, music, theatrical performances.  Don’t forget your mask!

festivals of the world, carnevale, venice


Boryeong Mud Festival

Where – Boryeong, South Korea

When – July

What – In July, mud is trucked in from the Boryeong mud flats to the Daecheon beach area, where it is used as the centerpiece of the ‘Mud Experience Land’.  The odd thing about this festival is that originally started as a marketing tactic for Boryeong mud cosmetics as the mud is considered rich in minerals.  

festivals of the world, boryeong mud festival, south korea


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Up Helly Aa Fire Festival

Where – Lerwick, Scotland [and many other locations in Scotland].

When – Last Tuesday in January

What – A tradition that began in the 1880s and has only been missed due to the Death of Queen Victoria and the World Wars.  Up Helly Aa includes many events throughout the day including the sight of the Guizer Jarl – Chief Guizer, the leader of the Jarl Squad who are the Vikings for the day.  The guizers are formed into squads and dressed in a variety of themed costumes as they march through the town holding their torches culminating in the torches being thrown into a Viking longship.  

festivals of the world, up helly aa


Mardi Gras

Where – New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

When – Late February or Early March

What – Mardi Gras translates to ‘Fat Tuesday.’  The idea is that it’s the last night to eat fatty foods before fasting for Lent.  It has become a night full of drinking and getting lots of other ‘sinful’ activities out of one’s system before Lent.

festivals of the world, mardi gras, new orleans


La Tomatina

Where –  Bunol, Spain [near Valencia]

When – Last Wednesday in August

What – La Tomatina is the ‘World’s Biggest Food Fight’ where thousands of people gather and more than one hundred metric tons of over-rope tomatoes are thrown in the streets.  The week long festival also includes music, parades, dancing, fireworks and a paella cooking contest.



Burning Man

Where –  Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA

When – Last Monday in August – First Monday in September

What – This event is an experiment in community, art, self-expression and self-reliance.  The community departs one week later, leaving no trace behind at all that they were there.

festivals of the world, burning man


Have you been to any of these festivals?  What else would you add to the list?

Traveler. Freelance Writer. Blogger. Vegan. Risk Taker. Voice for the Voiceless.


  1. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey

    April 7, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Looooooooove me a festival – am I too old to say I still want to do some of these? GREAT POST?

  2. Leslie

    April 7, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    Very cool post. I love going to festivals while I’m traveling. La Tomatina would be well out of my comfort zone. I hate the feeling of being dirty. Ha!

  3. Daidri | Thee Getaway Gal

    April 7, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    This was such a fun post to read. I learned about a few new ones and had already heard of a couple. I would love to see the Carnevale in Venice. I fell in love with Venice and this festival intrigues me. I think however I’ll avoid the La Tomatina… covered in food does not sound fun to me.

  4. Ann

    April 7, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    I’d love to go to the one in Scotland.

    From the list, I’ve only been to Mardi Gras – but I went twice! Lots of fun. At least the parts I remember were.

  5. Corinne

    April 7, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Some of these look like a blast, and some I’m just too wary to go to!

  6. Julie Jordan Scott

    April 7, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    I don’t think I’ve ever been to a real festival festival. I would like to go to some, or at least ONE. I’m not too far from Burning Man, but that one always seems a tad bit extreme. I feel slightly afraid (ok, more than slightly) of it… even though I have many friends who have been and LOVE it!

    Does one simply search FESTIVAL to find some?

    Happy A to Zing!

    Julie Jordan Scott
    The Bold Writer from A to Z

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 8, 2014 at 7:28 AM

      Yes ma’am – just do a search for festivals and you’ll find all sorts! 🙂

  7. Chris Boothman

    April 7, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Never been to any of these festivals but was in New Orleans a couple of years ago prior to the week of the Mardi Gras festival so could see everything that was being setup. There is so much planning that goes into these spectacular events and clearly organizers don’t worry about the cost, they literally go all out on these!

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 8, 2014 at 7:15 AM

      You’re right – the planning is intense and no one really realizes 🙂

  8. Carrie-Anne Foster (thatdizzychick)

    April 7, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    Alas, I have not been to any of them. Yet. 🙂
    Carrie~Anne at That Dizzy Chick

  9. Stephanie

    April 7, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    I love this! Now I know I need to go to Scotland in January. That should be an adventure all on its own, and then the festival!
    I just have one question. Where is the Lexington BBQ Festival on this list? 😉

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 8, 2014 at 7:14 AM

      Haha I wasn’t aware of the Lexington BBQ festival but that’s not too far from me….sounds delicious!

  10. Birgit

    April 7, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    I love to go to these-I have heard of most but not the mud one. Love to go to Carnivale in Venice. I think a lot of European countries have their version. Germany has Fasching (Not sure of the spelling). They dress up as well and make merry before lent

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 8, 2014 at 7:14 AM

      I believe you’re right Birgit – Carnival is pretty popular everywhere – just something about those Venetian masks 🙂

  11. Celine

    April 7, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    The one that would top my list is the Venice Carnivale – the idea of getting all dressed up like that and with masks. It would be like getting a glimpse of what Venice used to be like.

    I had no idea that New Orleans had a big festival for Mardi Gras – that’s so cool! In France we just do crepes (pancakes) – in fact in the UK they call it pancake day! A whole festival sounds like a whole lotta fun though 🙂

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 8, 2014 at 7:12 AM

      New Orleans is HUGE for Mardi Gras. And, I would love to do the Carnivale in Venice as well –like really bad haha. And, a whole day devoted to pancakes?! Count me in!

  12. Celine

    April 7, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    Are you planning on catching any of the festivals in Asia by the way, will the timing work out?

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 8, 2014 at 7:11 AM

      Yes I am! Songkran, Loi Krathong, Thaipsuam…maybe some others as well 🙂

  13. Angela Travels

    April 7, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    I would love to go to Oktoberfest or the Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai. Great post. Makes me really think about what festivals would pique my interest.

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 8, 2014 at 7:11 AM

      Oktoberfest would be awesome as well! And hoping I make it to Loi Krathong this year 🙂

  14. Christy@SweetandSavoring

    April 7, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    Oh man, I have such a love/hate relationship with festivals. I love them: the anything-goes mentality, dressing up funny, hearing amazing music, the sense of community…then there’s the dirtiness and people who do too many drugs and my anxiety about being surrounded by so many people. Of course, I’m talking from my limited experience of going to a couple of music festivals. I’d love to go to La Tomatina! And I went to one pre-Mardi Gras parade that was super intense. Burning Man….THAT I would love.

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 8, 2014 at 7:10 AM

      I’m claustrophobic so that’s my biggest downfall when it comes to festivals – I can *usually* get over that but sometimes it gets the best of me. Burning Man really really intrigues me as well 🙂

  15. Tiffany

    April 8, 2014 at 1:15 AM

    Everybody loves a good festival 😀 Somehow I always seem to miss them, but in a few days I finally get to participate in the Songkran Festival in Thailand, which is basically just a huge water fight.

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 8, 2014 at 7:09 AM

      I’ll be doing that next year! Excited to read what you think about it 🙂

  16. Gabor Kovacs

    April 8, 2014 at 4:24 AM

    I think festivals are one of the greatest representatives of the local culture. We always try to attend festivals when we travel. And of course we also try to participate in the local festivities here where we live, in Barcelona and the surroundings there are loads of them throughout the year.

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 8, 2014 at 7:06 AM

      I completely agree with you Gabor – they are a great way to experience a culture 🙂

  17. Jessica | A Passion and A Passport

    April 8, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    Lovely recap of super fun festivals around the world! I’ve always wondered about burning man and would love to experience it myself some year! Also on my agenda for the future are la tomatina and mardi gras- can’t resist the parties!

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  19. Samantha @mytanfeet

    April 8, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    My friend went to La Tomatina a few years ago and her pictures looked like so much fun! Wouldn’t mind experiencing a festival one of these days

  20. J.L. Campbell

    April 8, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Interesting festival. The mud and tomato festivities must get a LOT messy.

    J.L. Campbell writes at The Character Depot and the Jamaican Kid Lit Blog.

  21. Adelina | PackMeTo

    April 8, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    I haven’t been to any of these. I definitely want to check out Holi, Carnevale and Mardi Gras.

  22. Emily from Let's Roam Wild

    April 8, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    Love this list! SO many festivals that I want to go to. My favorite huge music fest is Lollapalooza in Chicago – my home :). My favorite small festival is the San Telmo Sunday Fair in Buenos Aires! I’ve always been dying to check out Carnivale – but in Brazil! Love the photo of Holi.

  23. Sammi

    April 10, 2014 at 2:44 AM

    La Tom- it was AWESOME!! I had wanted to do it forever 😀

  24. Margherita @The Crowded Planet

    September 7, 2014 at 5:15 AM

    So many great festivals! Here in Italy where I live every city has its own version of Carnevale, always amazing fun! I love the sound of the mud festival, looks messy but cool!

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