Back to blog listing

Join the party

World Carnivals and Cultural Events

Clive Wedderburn February 3, 2016

Everyone loves a festival. 

Festivals and carnivals provide a fascinating insight into what makes a country tick, bringing all the senses together, particularly in terms of music, dance and food. So there’s no better time to visit a region than when it celebrates a cultural event and gives you the opportunity to share in the fun with locals.

Rio Carnival, February 5th

The world famous Rio Carnival is the benchmark against which all other carnivals are set. Carnival happens in every city in Brazil and is celebrated in many different ways, but in Rio expect five days of feathery-fun, endless samba beats, blocos (street bands), huge papier-mâché masks, towering headdresses and open air parties, all beginning with the crowning of the Fat King (King Momo).

Chinese New Year, February 8th

It’s the year of the mischievous, clever monkey in 2016 with celebrations to herald the New Lunar Year beginning on the 8th February, marked in Chinatowns the world over, including, New York, San Francisco and Sydney. When better to explore Hong Kong than during the New Year festivities when the whole city lights up in celebration? Expect acrobats, stilt walkers, lion and dragon dances and enough fireworks to send a man to Mars.

Mardi Gras, New Orleans, February 9th 

There are many reasons why you should visit New Orleans. Whether it’s the charm of the French Quarter, the authenticity of the ‘N’Awlins’ music scene or simply to get your taste buds acquainted with Cajun and Creole cuisine. But if there’s one event that’s central to the spirit of the city then it has to be Mardi Gras. 

Experience the extravagant parades as colourful krewes, heralded by jazz bands, wind through streets packed with revellers. Be prepared to catch a doubloon, eat a king cake and wear purple, gold and green. Bring an open mind and you’ll fall under the spell of this magical city. 

Tapati Rapa Nui, Easter Island Chile, February (DateTBD)

The Tapati Rapa Nui festival is the perfect introduction to Easter Island and an insight into the Polynesian culture that created the moai monoliths the island is famous for. For two weeks in February this festival, by the locals for the locals, highlights the heritage of this far flung Pacific outpost, with events including Haka Pei (hill-surfing on banana tree trunks) and Polynesian group dance competitions plus traditional sports and feasting.

Jaisalmer Desert Festival, Jaisalmer, February 20th

A photographer’s dream commission, the Jaisalmer Desert Festival takes place against the backdrop of the beautiful city of Jaisalmer and the surrounding desert. For three days this exotic gathering allows you to experience the colourful heritage of Rajasthan. Expect desert nomads, Gair and Fire dancers, glorious moustaches and unbelievable beards, plus camel polo, camel racing and camel dancing.  

Hadaka Matsuri, Japan February 20th 

Hadaka Matsuri, dubbed the Naked Festival, dates back to 760 AD when it was believed that nakedness could ward off evil and bring good luck. Over a thousand years later the festival is still a significant event in cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto. Head to Okayama in Western Honshu for the most famous of the naked festivals called the Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri where over 9,000 men take part. Festival participants are not actually naked, but are required to wear loincloths. Nonetheless, this ancient tradition is an intriguing custom and a fascinating insight into Japanese culture.

Visit our Holiday Types pages for more fascinating insights into the world of travel from Hayes and Jarvis.