The Best Festivals Around the World

The Best Festivals Around the World

Carnevale in Venice, Italy (PHOTOS)
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The Best Festivals Around the World

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Each year we try and keep an eye out for the best festivals in the world and how many, if any, we can experience. While some festivals are well known and popular to visit, there are many which are less known but equally entertaining. Festivals bring people together, celebrate special times of the year, push out the old, bring in the new and give everyone the chance to relax, celebrate and let loose, so here is out list of the best festivals around the world, starting of course, with our hometown favorite, Songkran in Thailand.

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The Best Festivals Around the World

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Songkran (Thailand)

Officially the celebration marking the Thai new year, Songkran has evolved into one of the most fun and memorable festivals around the world. What was once celebrated by marking each other with water to bring in the new year and cleanse oneself, Songkran has become a nation wide water fight all across Thailand and one of the most fun days of the entire year. From the North in Chiangmai, where they celebrate the hardest, down to the South, in Phuket, the entire country erupts into laughter during the April festival as no one is safe and nothing is off limits. Police line the streets, their radios wrapped in plastic, as they are often a big target. Business men wearing suits are just asking for it and you wouldn’t dare sit outside a cafe and drink a cup of coffee without looking over your shoulder. Thais and westerners celebrate alike, by either setting up roadside stations with buckets and water hoses to soak those passing by or by loading up the bed of a truck, filling large trashcans with water and throwing water on all who pass. One of the most light hearted festivals in the world, Songkran is one of our favorite days of the year.

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The Best Festivals Around the World

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Carnival (Venice, Italy)

Celebrated on three different continents, Carnival is hands down one of the best festivals around the world. While New Orleans in the USA and Rio in Brazil have their own versions which are a massive hit, our favorite is the classic Carnival in Venice, Italy. Visiting Venice during this iconic festival has been on the top of our travel list for years, so when we got the chance this year we leaped at it. We were not sure what to expect when we arrived, and were quickly swept off our feet into the magical feeling of the festival. Gondola’s slowly passing by our window, beautiful Italian songs heard on every street and mysterious masked revelers appearing around each corner made our experience of Carnival one of our favorites of the year and something we will never forget. Venice is also a great  destination to combine with other European travel and there are lots of rail itineraries like this which can help you to maximize your holiday.

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The Best Festivals Around the World

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Burning Man (Nevada, USA)

Maybe one of the most unique and, errr, odd festivals in the world, Burning Man brings in an eclectic crowd from all over the world to celebrate art, music, dance and general weirdness in the middle of the Nevada desert each August. What started as a small annual festival has boomed into one of the biggest festivals in the USA each year. Tickets sell out almost instantly for the bizarre event and bring in partygoers from all over the planet. Built up to hold hundreds of thousands, the entirety of “Black Rock City” is then completely removed at the close of the festival. Volunteers work hard to make sure not a single trace is left in the desert each year. A mecca for individuality, Burning Man boasts some of the most impressive works of modern art in the world, brought in and build just for the festival. Burning Man might be a bit extreme for many, but it is certainly one of the best festivals around the world.

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The Best Festivals Around the World

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Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany)

Europe has some of the oldest and well known festivals in the world and Oktoberfest might just be the top of them all. Who doesn’t love beer, suspenders and beautiful women? While it technically starts at the end of September each year, Oktoberfest officially ushers in the start of the harvesting season and is celebrated by beer drinkers and party goers world wide who descend on the southern German city of Munich each fall to join in the fun. Not much needs to be said for one of the best festivals around the world, so book your ticket, prepare to drink gigantic amounts of beer and wash it all down with delicious German pretzels and meats, a true mans festivals if there ever was one, which is not to say the women love it too.

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The Best Festivals Around the World

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San Fermin Festival (Pamplona, Spain)

Known by many as the running of the bulls festival, the San Fermin festival takes place each July in the Spanish city of Pamplona. While the running of the bulls is actually the last event, the two week festival holds some of the most entertaining events of any festival in the world. Both running with the bulls and a gigantic tomato fight are events in the festival which started to honor San Fermin, the patron saint of Navarra. The festival has gotten larger and more popular over the years, now a top destination for thrill seekers world wide who want to enjoy the thrills of running in mass, dressed in red and white, away from charging bulls. While we have never been to Pamplona for the running of the bulls, we have it marked in the calendar for this summer and cannot wait for the chance to run for our lives!

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The Best Festivals Around the World

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Yi Peng (Chiangmai, Thailand)

The name might not ring a bell but the images of this amazing festival sure will. Known as the lantern festival to many, the Thai festival is celebrated mainly in the northern city of Chiangmai where once a year, in the month of November, thousands and thousands of people gather to send off their bad habits, sorrows and negative thoughts up into the air in beautiful paper lanterns which light up the sky for days. A magical feeling falls over the city each November as visitors stream in from each corner of the world to release their own lanterns in one of the most picturesque moments of the year. While lanterns will be found floating in the air for days, there is a particular moment when everyone releases lanterns together which completely takes over the night sky in one of the most awe inspiring sights you can witness. Chiangmai is not one of the most visited cities in Thailand behind Bangkok and Phuket, but it has some of the most beautiful scenery and magical festivals, including Yi Peng each autumn.

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The Best Festivals Around the World

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Holi (India)

How could we make a list of the best festivals around the world without mentioning India? While India seems to almost have a festival for each week of the year, no festival has spread across the world quite like Holi, or the color festival as it is known to many. Colleges all over the world celebrate Holi each year, many students having no idea where in the world it came from. In the US, there are organized “color runs”, which while may have not come directly from Holi, are certainly strongly influenced by images of the festival seen around the world. Officially celebrated to mark goods victory over evil, Holi, much like Songkran in Thailand, is simply a happy time for many Indians, one of the happiest of the year. While nothing could be more special than celebrating Holi in India, if you don’t find yourself on that side of the world, just ask around and you will surely find a group of people celebrating in some form wherever you are. Celebrated in March each year at the passing of the full moon, Holi is by far one of the best festivals around the world.

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Photos provided via Flickr from Wyndham HollisInfrogmationWilliam NeuheiselAaron “tango” Tang and Sukanto Debnath

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

10 COMMENTS

    • We are hoping to get back to Germany by September this year, and just arrived back in Phuket a couple weeks late for Songkran!

  1. You’ve got some great ideas here- Holi has always fascinated me, but they’re all on my list apart from running with the bulls which I’m not too sure about ethically. The tomato fight sounds great though! I’m in Trinidad at the moment an am pretty gutted to have missed the carnival here. It’s supposed to be the biggest i the Caribbean and I can imagine the atmosphere is amazing. Thanks for sharing.
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