The carnival in Rio de Janeiro has to be one of the most famous events on the world calendar, with people flocking from all corners of the globe to join in the celebrations. However, there are many other festivals which take place in countries in every continent throughout the year – here’s a calendar of just a few of the events.
If you are suffering from the traditional January blues, why not cheer yourself up by going to the annual minstrel festival in Cape Town, South Africa. Known as Kaapse Klopse, up to 13,000 minstrels parade through the streets, with painted faces, musical instruments and wearing colourful clothes.
The festival dates back to the 19th century, and has its roots in slavery when a day of festivities was permitted for the city’s slaves. Expect to enjoy a fusion of African and American music and cuisine with festivities, competitions and costumes lasting throughout the month of January.
If you haven’t spent all your pennies celebrating Valentine’s Day, head to Canada and join in the snow-filled festival known as Winterlude.
Celebrate the joys of the white stuff with ice sculpture competitions, snow slides and sledding in both Ottawa and Gatineau. The more active can enjoy skating on the world’s largest outdoor ice rink; the frozen Rideau Canal. Stretching more than 7.8 kilometres, skates can be hired at many points along the route with art exhibitions and races taking place throughout the event.
You might not want to pack your most expensive clothes if you plan on joining in Holi, a Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal and India.
Also referred to colloquially as the Festival of Colours, the celebrations take place to commemorate the end of winter and to welcome in the fresh new colours which herald springtime. There is also a nod towards Hindu mythology.
Tourists and locals take part in the event with bonfires being lit and scented and coloured powders and paint being freely flung at everyone. Do not expect to be able to walk through the streets during the festivities and remain unscathed – everyone is considered a fair target regardless of age, creed, gender or caste!
With Easter occurring most frequently in this month, many Christian countries across the globe hold religious ceremonies to mark the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
However, in Japan folks take to the streets to enjoy Kanamara Matusri – the Festival of the Steel Phallus. A world-renowned event, celebrations centre on the male member – which is obvious from the phallic shaped sweets, carved vegetables, ornate decorations and the parade.
The main festivities take place around a local shrine said to be dedicated to the penis.
Whilst many festivals are raucous affairs, Vesak is a more serene event celebrated in Buddhist countries all around the world. It is said to mark the day when Buddha was born, enlightened and left the mortal world.
In Indonesia, the event is marked by a five mile procession from orange-robe clad Buddhist monks who carry scented orange blossoms and sweets, accompanied by traditional music and dancers. Upon reaching the ancient holy site of Borobadur temple, once the walls are bathed in moonlight, candles are lit and prayers and meditation begins.
Tourists are welcome to join in the celebrations and soak up the spiritual and serene atmosphere which culminates with 1000 lanterns being released into the night sky.
One of the more obscure events on the calendar, the annual oil wrestling event in Turkey is the oldest sporting event on the globe.
Dating back 649 years, the dubious-sounding festival was originally used as a way for warriors to keep up their fitness between battles – although they also wrestled to the death.
Modern day wrestling remains a major annual event in Kirkpinar where wrestlers must undergo a formal preparation ritual which includes professional greasers smothering the competitors head to toe in olive oil before they don leather shorts and climb into the arena.
The Bull Running event in Pamplona has gained notoriety in recent years and is not an escapade for the faint hearted.
Once every year in Spain, bulls are released into the streets and young men traditionally run in front of the bulls, trying not to get maimed or killed. Anyone aged over the age of 18 is free to join in whilst both locals and tourists cheer them on throughout the course which lasts just over 900 yards.
In Nigeria, the Durbar festival never fails to draw the crowds with its horseback displays from swordsmen, traditional tribal dances and a parade from the Emir.
The celebrations also occur at the end of the Muslim holiday known as Eid al-Fitr and is a chance for tourists and locals to mingle and enjoy the diverse entertainment.
The Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, is one of the most unusual experiences you could contemplate.
A temporary yet creative community lasting just a week, all participants are encouraged to express themselves through art or music and performing on stage is easily achieved. However, nothing is permitted to be sold within the camp confines and guests must ensure they bring everything they need to survive. All traces must also be removed upon departure; the site does not even provide rubbish bins. A truly eco-experience.
The folk of Mexico show the world a different way to commemorate the deceased in the Day of the Dead in late October.
With fancy dress depicting the embodiment of death and night-time family picnics in cemeteries, the festival is a far more upbeat and tongue-in-cheek way to celebrate the memories of loved ones and acknowledge the ever-present possibility of departing this mortal world.
Bonn Om Touk, also known as the Water Festival, takes places in Cambodia and marks the time when the direction of the river reverses.
Lasting several days, there are boat races, floats, fireworks and countless parties – an event which sees quite literally millions of people pour into the region of Phnom Penh.
If the thought of Jingle Bells and turkey sandwiches make you feel physically ill, you might want to consider heading to Tunisia for the International Festival of the Sahara.
A celebration of the traditional nomadic way of life, the event includes hunting dogs, a Bedouin marriage, Arab horse displays as well as a prestigious poetry competition. Troupes from other countries travel from all around the world to perform in front of an international audience.
So if you find yourself at a loose end and not fancying the idea of a typical holiday sat on the beach, consider booking an apartment and visiting one of the many festivals taking place around the world. Whether you like the idea of oil wrestling in Turkey or a spiritual retreat in Indonesia, there is something going on for everyone!