Fes­ti­vals cal­en­dar

From cities of ice and kite-filled skies to colour­ful car­ni­vals, we’ve got you cov­ered when it comes to plan­ning your 2018 trav­els… month by month

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Contents -

Make your year a big party, from car­ni­vals to cities of ice

JAN­UARY In­ter­na­tional Kite Fes­ti­val Gu­jarat, In­dia

WHY? For such a grace­ful sport, Ahmed­abad’s Kite Fes­ti­val (7–14 Jan) is rather mer­ci­less, as hun­dreds of com­peti­tors com­pete to scythe each other’s strings. It’s a daz­zling sight, with the lo­cal bazaars and street food wor­thy of ex­plo­ration between bouts. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… Fire fes­ti­vals! In the Shet­land Is­lands of Scot­land, Up Helly Aa (30 Jan) sees Ler­wick’s lo­cals go full Vik­ing, crown­ing a torch­lit pa­rade with a burn­ing long­boat. But that’s noth­ing com­pared to Nara in Ja­pan, where a whole moun­tain is set alight for Wakakusa Ya­mayaki (Jan 27).


Car­naval de Oruro Bo­livia

WHY? Car­ni­vals are ev­ery­where in Fe­bru­ary, from Rio to Venice. But few can match the Bo­li­vian city of Oruro (3–13 Feb) for sheer dev­ilry. Here, Uru folk­lore and Christian rit­ual merge over ten-day fes­tiv­i­ties, cul­mi­nat­ing in a 15-hour pa­rade of de­mons and cueca dancers on the last Saturday. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… Ice fes­ti­vals! Ja­pan’s Sap­poro Snow Fes­ti­val (5–12 Feb) is a frozen de­light, as the city’s trans­formed by sculp­tures, while the huge ice palace of China’s Harbin Snow & Ice Fes­ti­val (un­til 25 Feb) is equally retina pop­ping.

MARCH Holi Fes­ti­val In­dia

WHY? The spring fes­ti­val’s (1–2 Mar) roots are in the north. Mathura in Ut­tar Pradesh is a great base – no one es­capes the gu­lal (pow­dered paint) here, with spray guns dous­ing all in a week­long party. Nearby vil­lage Pha­lain also hosts a bon­fire where priests prove their de­vo­tion by trot­ting over hot coals. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… Yap Day (1–2 Mar) sees the is­lands of Greater Yap, Mi­crone­sia, cel­e­brate all things lo­cal. This takes the form of feasts and lots of danc­ing, with rou­tines per­formed of­ten just once then re­tired for­ever. It’s also manta ray mat­ing sea­son in Yap La­goon – a thrilling sight in it­self.

APRIL Songkran Chi­ang Mai, Thai­land

WHY? Keep­ing dry dur­ing Songkran (13–15 Apr) is im­pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially in Chi­ang Mai. The Thai New Year is all about wa­ter: throw­ing it, spray­ing it, squirt­ing it. It’s es­sen­tially a re­li­gious cleans­ing fes­ti­val (Bud­dha stat­ues are pa­raded and washed), but it’s also im­mense fun for vis­i­tors. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… On the 15th day of the third lu­nar month (usu­ally April), pa­rades, floats, priests and dancers (known as Cen­tipedes) take to the streets of Tai­wan’s big cities (par­tic­u­larly Hseuhchia), to mark the day of the God of Medicine.

MAY Cinco de Mayo Pue­bla City, Mex­ico

WHY? Cel­e­brat­ing a failed 19th­cen­tury French in­va­sion, Cinco de Mayo (5 May) is mostly cel­e­brated in the Pue­bla re­gion – the site of the bat­tle. Here, re-en­act­ments as well as floats, mari­achis and mar­gar­ita­fu­elled lo­cals keep the Pue­bla City re­bel­lion go­ing into the night. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… Bruges’ Pro­ces­sion of the Holy Blood (10 May) – a reli­quary cap­tured dur­ing the Cru­sades and kept in the Bel­gian city’s Basil­ica – is some 700 years old, and a sight to be­hold.

JUNE Inti Raymi Fes­ti­val Cusco, Peru

WHY? If you’re in Cusco for June 24, the Inca Fes­ti­val of the Sun will be re-en­acted at the Sac­say­hua­man ru­ins in a com­pelling nine-hour cer­e­mony. The pre­ced­ing days of street par­ties lighten the mood con­sid­er­ably. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… The high­light of the Span­ish Batalla del Vino Fes­ti­val (27–30 Jun), held in the vine­yards of

Haro, is when a gi­ant wine-throw­ing fight breaks out on 29 June.

JULY Gion Mat­suri Ky­oto, Ja­pan

WHY? A rem­nant of an an­cient pu­rifi­ca­tion rit­ual, Gion Mat­suri lasts the month, but the main pro­ces­sion on 17 July is its high­light. In the run-up to it, ex­pect food stalls af­ter sun­set and the chance to wan­der the huge floats be­fore they in­vade the streets. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… Sport­ing fes­ti­vals! Spy rodeos at Canada’s Cal­gary Stam­pede (6–15 Jul); wrestling, rac­ing and archery at the Naadam games (11–15 Jul) in Ulan Ba­tor, Mon­go­lia; and taut mus­cles at Turkey’s Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Fes­ti­val in Edirne (2–8 Jul).

AU­GUST Mount Ha­gen Show Pa­pua New Guinea

WHY? This sing-sing (fes­ti­val) be­gan in the 1960s as a way for tribes of the West­ern High­lands to con­nect; now its plumes and painted faces form a noisy cul­tural blow-out, with tour op­er­a­tor png­tours.com of­fer­ing front-row seats (18–19 Aug) to this dif­fi­cult-to-reach event as part of a broader itin­er­ary. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… Fe­ria de las Flores fes­ti­val (1–10 Aug) sees the Colom­bian city of Medellin blos­som, with the Des­filo de Sil­leteros pa­rade of huge flo­ral ar­range­ments at its cen­tre.

SEPTEM­BER Her­manus Whale­watch­ing Fes­ti­val South Africa

WHY? The West­ern Cape’s famed for its land-based cetacean-spot­ting. So, when south­ern rights ar­rive in Her­manus’ Walker Bay (late Sep), they’re greeted by the blow­ing kelp horn that sig­nals the open­ing of street stalls and par­ties. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… Gon­doliers light up Venice’s Grand Canal for the Re­gata Stor­ica (2 Sep) in the build-up to the city’s main stroke-off: the re­gatta it­self. Think the Uni­ver­sity Boat Race in drag!

OC­TO­BER Veg­e­tar­ian Fes­ti­val Phuket, Thai­land

WHY? Not as be­nign as it sounds. This fes­ti­val (mid Oct) of pu­rifi­ca­tion sees Phuket’s Chi­nese com­mu­nity en­gage in masochis­tic feats of pierc­ing (of­ten quite grue­some) in an event be­lieved to date back 150 years, to a band of malaria-stricken Chi­nese min­strels, who then purged them­selves healthy. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… Sky-high fes­ti­vals! Mon­go­lia’s Golden Ea­gle Fes­ti­val (6–7 Oct), held in Bayan-ulgii, sees young ea­gle hun­ters flaunt their skills; or head to Al­bu­querque, USA, to be­hold the fill­ing skies at its In­ter­na­tional Bal­loon Fi­esta (7–15 Oct).

NOVEM­BER Day of the Dead Mex­ico & Gu­atemala

WHY? Dia de los Muer­tos (2 Nov) is now a world­wide fix­ture, but Mex­ico is its heart: for a trad take, Jan­itzio Is­land sees the Purépecha peo­ple per­form rit­u­als late into the night, while the city of Oax­aca throws in a night­time car­ni­val. But the most eye-catch­ing event is held in a ceme­tery near Lake Ati­tlán, as home­made kites (up to 30m wide) are launched into the sky. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… Bhutan’s Black­necked Crane Fes­ti­val (11 Nov) co­in­cides with 300 of these el­e­gant birds re­turn­ing to win­ter in the Phob­jikha area, ac­com­pa­nied by plenty of folk rit­u­als and cel­e­bra­tions.

DE­CEM­BER Junkanoo Nas­sau, Ba­hamas

WHY? Think Mardi Gras with a dash of Car­naval, all given a Ba­hamian twist. Junkanoo (26 Dec & 1 Jan) dates back to a slave hol­i­day of the 1700s; to­day, it’s a wild party that con­tin­ues over Box­ing Day and New Year’s car­ni­val pa­rades in cap­i­tal Nas­sau. ALSO PEN­CIL IN… In­dia’s Horn­bill Fes­ti­val (1–10 Dec): dozens of Na­ga­land tribes de­scend on Kisama vil­lage for mu­sic, games… and lots of rice beer.

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