Festivals are all about celebrating life. Can you imagine a world without festivals?! It’s festivals that make for a wonderful opportunity to meet with others and share our joy with them. In fact, festivals have eternally formed the basis of every civilization on the face of the earth. Had it not been for the festivals, our lives would have been so mundane, banal and colourless. We bring you the top 10 festivals in 2022 that you need to travel to and explore. It’s time you started planning your good times!
1. Kite Festival, India: Also popularly known as the International Kite Festival, it takes place in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, every year on 14th January during Makar Sankranti and continues until 15th January. This date marks the end of winter and the return of a more clement weather for farmers. The best place to enjoy this festival is Sabarmati or the Ahmedabad Police Stadium, where people lie down to see the sky filled with thousands of kites. Many kite makers and flyers from all over the world, from countries including Japan, Italy, UK, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, the USA, Malaysia, Singapore, France, etc. attend the festival every year and demonstrate their unique creations and wow the crowds with some highly unusual kites.
2. Snow Festival, Japan: Officially known as the Sapporo Snow Festival, it is held annually in Sapporo, Japan over seven days in February. Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome are the main sites of the festival. Every year millions of tourists visit Japan to witness the hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures at the festival. The Snow Festival began as a one-day event in 1950, when six local high school students built six snow statues in Odori Park. In 1955, the Japan Self-Defence forces from the nearby base joined in and built the first massive snow sculptures, for which the snow festival has now become famous. The subject of the statues varies and often features an event, famous building or person from the previous year.
3. Carnival, Brazil: Also known as the ‘biggest show on earth’, Carnival is a giant party held right before the Christian holiday of Lent. It takes place in February/March, on the Friday before Ash Wednesday. The derivation of the word ‘Carnaval’ (as originally called in Spanish and Portuguese) is quite an interesting one. The word was derived from the Latin expression ‘carne vale’, which translates as ‘farewell to the meat’. It’s said that, originally Carnival was food festival, because it was the last time people could eat abundantly before Lent. Carnival in Brazil is the most famous in the world and is adorned with floats, parades, dancing, music and drinking. The biggest carnival in Brazil takes place in Rio de Janeiro.
4. Holi, India: This popular festival of colours is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March. Coinciding with the spring season, the colours in Holi represent the myriad colours of blooming flowers in the nature. On the preceding night, a bonfire is lit, which is considered to burn away all that’s evil. This night is followed by the day, when people play with colours and water. There is of course, music and food. For the most traditional Holi experience, visit the temple towns of Mathura and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh.
5. Songkran Festival, Thailand: Songkran marks the Thai New Year and falls somewhere around mid-April. The date was originally set by astrological calculations, but is now fixed from April 13th– 15th every year. It’s one of the most fun events you’ll ever experience. It’s a three-day water fight that is celebrated throughout the country. The scene is such that you can’t walk two seconds out of your home without getting wet. The festival sees active participation of both young and elderly. This festival can be considered a Thai version of Indian Holi. You can even have fun of riding in a tuk-tuk and having a mobile water fight with the people in the lane over. Some 4 million tourists flock to Thailand to take part in this fun fiesta every year.
6. Summerfest Music Festival in the USA: Considered to be one of the world’s largest, Summerfest is an annual music festival held in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During the festival, the 75-acre Henry Maier Festival Park, adjacent to Lake Michigan and Milwaukee’s central business district, hosts performances over 11 days, from late June until early July. The festival includes 12 stages with over 1000 performances. The performers include local and nationally known music talents from various genres. Summerfest also showcases a wide variety of food from many Milwaukee area restaurants. Other Summerfest attractions include shopping vendors, fireworks, family activities, and more.
7. Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea: The Boryeong Mud Festival is held annually in the month of July in Boryeong – a town around 200 km south of Seoul. The festival takes place over a period of around two weeks. The history goes that, in 1997 a range of cosmetics was produced using mud from Boryeong mud flats. The cosmetics were said to be full of minerals, bentonites, and germaniums, all of which occur naturally in the mud from the area. In order to promote these cosmetics, the Boryeong Mud Festival was conceived. For the festival, the mud is taken from the Boryeong mud flats, and trucked to the Daecheon beach area, where it is used as the centrepiece of the ‘Mud Experience Land’.
8. Tomato Festival, Spain: Who can ever forget the very famous ‘Ik Junoon’ song from the iconic movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara! If you wish to paint the town red, quite literally, just as the three friends in the movie did, head to Spain in August. La Tomatina is held in the village of Buñol on the last Wednesday of August, every year. Some 20,000 people engage in a tomato fight, using over whooping 1,20,000 pounds of tomatoes. Tens of thousands of tourists flock to Buñol from across the world to participate in this giant food fight. It’s messy, it’s the food fight… but all in all great fun! It’s the fight we all dreamt about as a child. After having your fill of tomatoes, you go wash off in the river and then join the dance party in the town, where the sangria and food flow.
9. Beer Festival, Germany: Very famous around the world, Germany’s Beer Festival – Oktoberfest, actually happens over two weeks in the month of September. It’s the world’s largest Volksfest i.e. beer festival and travelling funfair, and held annually in Munich. It is a 16 to 18 day folk festival running from mid or late September to around the first Sunday in October, and sees the attendance of around six million people from across the globe. Along with consuming large quantities of beer at the festival, visitors can also enjoy numerous attractions, such as amusement rides, side stalls, and games. There are also a wide variety of traditional foods available. Today, Oktoberfest is very popular for its iconic beer halls, lederhosen, giant steins of beer, and huge pretzels.
10. Day of the Dead, Mexico: On 2nd November, every year, Mexico celebrates Dia de los Muertos, what the English speaking world knows as Day of the Dead. We can draw parallels between ‘Piturpaksha’ in India with ‘Dia de los Muertos’ in Mexico. However, unlike Pitrupaksha which is a time to mourn, Dia de los Muertos is more of a fun, with a wacky fringe to it and celebrates life & death. The festival is celebrated to pay tribute to, remember and also welcome the spirits of the dead. The core of Day of the Dead is deeply personal, revolving around homemade feasts and lavishly-decorated temporary altars. But the celebrations invariably spill onto the streets, where revellers dress up as skeletons and party hard. Bottles of tequila and mezcal (a liquor made from agave) are offered at graves along with personal trinkets and sweets, including sugar skulls. Celebrations take place all over Mexico, but there are a few regions where locals and visitors alike truly revel in the spirit of the holiday. Michoacan, Oaxaca and Mexico City are three must-visit destinations for those hoping to have the full experience. In 2008, this tradition was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
So these were the top 10 festivals that you need to travel to and explore in 2022. We hope you enjoyed reading the blog as much as we enjoyed writing it for you. The Indian-American writer Siddharth Katragadda has rightly said, “The greatness of a culture can be found in its festivals”. Festivals are probably the best occasions to learn about the nuances and core of any culture, or any land. While in the current times, although travelling across the globe to attend these festivals may seem a bit distant reality, we all will surely be able to chalo, bag bharo, nikal pado very soon with Veena World’s world tour packages. Meanwhile, as you Dekho Apna Desh and taste the many unknown and unseen delights of our country, the festival packages around the world will be in making for you to indulge in, sooner rather than later.