For culture vultures, there’s no better way to plan a holiday than to anchor your trip around the world’s great festivals, it’s pretty much a guarantee that something magical and unprecedented will happen.
Festivals are a VIP invitation to see a country in full party mode, bells and whistles included. We’ve highlighted some of the world’s most colourful, vibrant events to inspire your travels.
1. Chinese New Year – Hong Kong
16 – 17 February
Time your visit to the Far East to celebrate the Year of the Rooster in Hong Kong. See temples, giant Buddha’s and bustling markets against a backdrop of spectacular fireworks and laser shows. You can also combine with the neon cities of Japan for an epic adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun.
2. Harbin Ice Festival – China
Begins 5 – 28 January
Discover the world’s largest annual snow and ice festival; a wintry wonderland of ice lantern castles and sparkling snow sculptures. Use this as your opportunity to explore China and visit the Forbidden City in Beijing or the Great Wall of China at Badaling.
3. Mardi Gras in New Orleans
3 – 28 February
During the two week state-wide Mardi Gras celebrations, New Orleans embraces a feast of entertainment featuring vibrant masquerades and colourful parades culminating on Fat Tuesday 13 February. Combine this amazing city experience with a road trip to Tennessee to visit Memphis and Nashville for a music holiday of a lifetime.
4. Rio Carnival
9 – 14 February
Over two million people flock to Rio for the annual carnival; a five day celebration of samba beats and parties that last day and night. Get your seats at the Sambodromo, the purpose-built festival arena that is the epicentre of the carnival. Once you’ve partied in Brazil, explore more of South America when you cross the border into Argentina to tango in the cafes and bars of Buenos Aires.
5. South By South West, Austin, Texas
9 – 18 March
Discover Texas and the music city of Austin at the largest music festival of its kind in the world. Then discover more of the culture and history of the Lone Star State when you visit the Alamo at San Antonio and the cowboy culture and dude ranches of Fort Worth.
6. Coachella and Stagecoach, Greater Palm Springs
13 – 22 April
Experience Greater Palm Springs’ classic American architecture, stylish galleries and designer stores when you visit the legendary Coachella Festival of Music and Arts. Situated in the state of California, also embark on an epic road trip along Pacific Highway 1 to experience the glamour of Los Angeles and the iconic sights of San Francisco.
7. Cropover Festival, Barbados
July – August
For fun, rum and sunshine visit Barbados during Cropover, the festival that celebrated the end of the sugar cane cutting season, and discover the history and identity of the island in a fiesta of music and culture. Once you’ve partied with the locals why not unwind in luxury on a sail and stay holiday around the stunning isle of St Lucia?
8. Aloha Cultural Festivals, Hawai‘i
Discover vibrant block parties and colourful parades, traditional hula plus Hawaiian arts and crafts, dance, music and cuisine. Island hop across this beautiful archipelago to discover active volcanoes on Hawaii Island, the spectacular scenery of Maui and the enchanting forests of Kauai.
9. Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival, Aruba
This annual festival ignites Aruba’s music scene with an impressive line-up of international and local jazz, Latin, soul and funk musicians. Combine the island life of Aruba with a tour of Ecuador for the Andes Mountains and Galapagos Islands, white sand beaches and colonial Spanish culture.
10. Calgary Stampede, Alberta, Canada
6 – 15 July
Visit one of Canada’s most enduring spectacles, the annual rodeo festival featuring music, chuckwagon races and exhibitions. From Calgary explore Alberta, and experience the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks and the Columbia Icefields.
For more inspiration and to see some of our best travel experiences, visit our Let’s Talk holiday types pages and discover more amazing holiday opportunities to kick-start your New Year.
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