5 exciting festivals you’ll want to add to your latest travel list

Category: News

Life is a journey filled with memories and experiences. Yet, far too many people worry about the future or material concerns, over enjoying the present and living their lives to the fullest.

The travel photographer, Alexander Sattler, once said: “I would rather own little and see the world than own the world and see little of it”. This is an apt point considering a recent study by Royal London found that 72% of individuals over the age of 55 valued holidays, days out, and hobbies over material possessions.

The study reports that the most important goals for retirees revolve around holistic lifestyle benefits and gaining new life experiences, such as:

  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Relaxing
  • Maintaining health and fitness
  • Travelling
  • Pursuing their hobbies.

The report also looked at the leading concerns among retirees and found that 17% worried they lacked life experiences.

So, to ignite your wanderlust, read on to discover five exciting festivals from around the world that you should consider adding to your travel list, as they just might provide the enriching new memories you seek.

1. Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Next taking place on 13 February 2024, Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” is a brightly coloured festival held in New Orleans each year filled with parades, masquerade balls, and excessive amounts of booze.

The festival is a two-week extravaganza of free-spirit frivolities that draws to an end before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, which traditionally marks a period of abstinence.

The streets fill up with giggly tourists covered in glittering beads and enjoying flamboyant cocktails. The city’s nightlife is notorious and raises the tempo even more once Mardi Gras arrives.

Visiting New Orleans also allows you to soak up the rich history and culture of the city, which is home to beautiful architecture, an old-timey tram network, vibrant Cajun cuisine, and some of the best Jazz venues in the world.

2. The Harbin Ice Festival in China

Kicking off in early January in the city of Harbin in Northeast China, the annual Ice Festival transforms the landscape into a winter wonderland of monumental ice sculptures, adorned with festive lights, and offering plenty of frosty activities.

Talented artists build colossal statues, towers, and castles out of ice — all brightly lit by a vast network of glowing lights — giving the city an ethereal quality.

The festival has plenty to do, such as:

  • Dog sledding
  • Downhill skiing
  • Ice lantern displays
  • Laser shows.

There is also the opportunity for brave souls to enter the freezing river and enjoy a winter swim.

3. Gion Matsuri in Kyoto

The Gion Matsuri festival takes place in July each year in the Japanese city of Kyoto. The summer celebration has been held for more than 1,000 years.

The festival acts to appease the old gods who brought chaos to the land with fire, floods, and earthquakes. However, the modern iteration takes a more light-hearted approach with fun costumes and a festive parade of intricately designed traditional floats depicting old deities.

Sky lanterns are released in the evenings and the streets are vibrant with free-flowing sake and tasty food stalls.

A visit to Kyoto offers you a unique opportunity to soak up the sights and smells of some of Japan’s major cities. A smartly planned train journey could see you take in Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, offering a diverse range of Japanese experiences.

4. Holi Festival in India

The Holi Festival takes place in India and Nepal in late February and early March each year (24 and 25 March in 2024). It is a Hindu celebration of love, springtime, and good triumphing over evil.

It is a vibrant and colourful affair with a rainbow of brightly coloured dye powder covering festivalgoers. There is a nostalgic, child-like, element with attendants frolicking around with coloured water balloons or water pistols and soaking friends, foes, and complete strangers in a fun free-for-all.

In the evening there is a bonfire where celebrants gather to sing and dance, and the rich aromas of local culinary delights fill the senses.

It is a great way to connect with a different culture and recapture a sense of child-like wonder.

5. Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico

Translated to “Day of the Dead”, the annual Mexican celebration of departed loved ones might seem morbid at first, but is actually filled with a lot of love, happiness, and a familial atmosphere.

Over three days between 31 October and 2 November, it is believed the spirits of loved ones return to the living world to pay their families a visit, and so relatives spend time tidying cemeteries, leaving gifts for the dead, and celebrating their lives with music, dancing, and plenty of local treats.

There are parades in the streets, paper decorations, flamboyant skeleton costumes and makeup, and edible skull candies.

Candles light up streets and altars for the dead, carnival rides entertain young children, and for the adults, there is plenty of Tequila and Mezcal to enjoy.

It can be a great way to gain a better understanding of another culture while enjoying an alternative Halloween holiday.