10 Epic International Festivals

Who doesn’t love a celebration? If hitting every major, international party is on your bucket list, pack your bags and party patch for these 10 epic international festivals.

La Tomatina, Buñol, Spain

August 29, 2019. For more info click here.

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La Tomatina is a festival held on the last Wednesday of August in the town of Buñol, Spain. Thousands of people make their way from around the world to participate in the ‘World’s Largest Food Fight.’ More than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets. There have been as many as 50,000 participants blowing up this little town of 9,000 residents. However, in 2013 official ticketing has limited the number of participants to just 20,000 people. Around 11am truckloads of over-ripe tomatoes are driven into the center of the town. Theoretically, the festival does not begin until someone climbs to the top of a two-story high, greased wooden pole and snatches the coveted ham. In reality, the festival starts with the firing of water cannons, and chaos ensues. It’s every man for himself. There are limited accommodations for those who come to La Tomatina, so many people stay in nearby Valencia.

International Balloon Festival, Albuquerque, New Mexico

October 6 -14, 2018. For more info click here.

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The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is celebrated the first week in October. People from all over the world come to Albuquerque to participate. Hundreds of balloons fill the air. The festival started in 1972 with 13 balloons launching from a shopping mall parking lot. Decades later, the Balloon Fiesta has grown to multiple events. Today nearly 600 balloons take flight, making it the largest ballooning event on earth. It is both the largest annual international event held in the United States and the most photographed. The launch field is 78-acres (the size of 54 football fields). At nightfall listen to the roar of hundreds of burners simultaneously igniting, turning the field into a massive spectacle of lighted colorful balloons.

Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

September 22 – October 7, 2018. For more info click here.

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If you love beer, it’s never too early to start planning for Oktoberfest. 6 million people show up to Munich to celebrate all things Bavarian. Enjoy fine food, fabulous beers, traditional costumes, music, and drinking singalongs. Seasoned Oktoberfest veterans suggest pacing yourself over the course of a week. You’ll need time to rest and recoup from all your merry-making. The festival is jam-packed over the weekend periods, particularly opening weekend, so arrive early if you want to access the beer tents. Crowds diminish towards the middle of the week, so if you want to enjoy a seat with your beer then attend the festival on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays.

Day of the Dead (Día De Los Muertos), Mexico

October 31 – November 2, 2018

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Sugar skulls decorate the front of the colorful altars. Blooming Cempasúchiles are scattered between candles, ancestral photos, painted skeletons, and plates of food. The Day of the Dead is traditionally celebrated in Mexico on November 1st (All Saints Day) and 2nd (All Souls’ Day). Families make ofrendas to the spirits of loved ones who have passed on. The offerings are left at their gravesites or on makeshift altars at home. Día de los Muertos finds its roots in Pre-Columbian culture. Today the celebration has morphed to include Catholic beliefs and practices, creating a profoundly religious tradition. Visit colorful marketplaces in villages like Oaxaca. Witness night time graveside vigils and extravagant carnivalesque processions.

International Ice & Snow Sculpture, Harbin, China

December 24, 2018 – February 25, 2019. For info click here.

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The Harbin Ice Festival includes many winter activities, events, and theme parks. Hit up the Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo, a theme park for breathtaking snow sculptures. This festival is among the top 4 ice and snow festivals in the world. Usually, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival opens around Dec 24-25 and lasts until the end of February. However, its official opening ceremony is held on January 5th each year. The festivities include a carnival, international ice sculptures competitions, ice lantern show, ice-sailing, ice hockey, ice football, speed skating, Alpine skiing competitions, fishing, films, art shows, sporting events, trade fairs, folk songs and dance performances. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival has become a popular winter destination for tourists and photographers alike.


Don’t forget to tell us about your favorite festivals in the comments below!


Lantern Festival, Pingxi, Taiwan

February 19 – March 3, 2019. For more info click here.

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The Lantern Festival in Taiwan is now a major tourist attraction. The high-tech lanterns are a far cry from the simple lanterns of days gone by. The little hillside town of Pingxi is home to a striking tradition. Around the time of the year’s first full moon, thousands of lanterns are released into the sky. Once used as signals for villagers to let their families know they were safe, lanterns now carry people’s wishes for the new year into the night sky. Bare witness as Pingxi hosts one of the most dangerous fireworks displays in the world. The townspeople believe that a god named Guan Gong rescued the area from a plague in the 19th century and this is the town’s way of thanking him.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

March 1 – 9, 2019. For more info click here.

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Before the Catholic Lenten season of prayer and sacrifice, there’s a time to party. Originally a Christian celebration, Carnival in Rio is now one of the largest events in the world. Over 1 million people come from all over the world to participate in the festival. Nearly every neighborhood in Rio de Janerio has it’s own Carnival Party. Today there are more than 300 street parties! Each block, has its street for its parade, while the larger ones usually close the streets for traffic. Carnival starts 40 days before Easter and ends on Shrove Tuesday. This is Mardi Gras on steroids. Pack up your sequins and head to Rio for the best street party in the world!

Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Louisana, United States

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019. For more info click here.

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Mardi Gras is loaded with drunkenness and debauchery. It is primarily celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana and partying starts about two weeks before and through Shrove Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday) is the day before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of lent in the Catholic tradition). You can usually find one primary parade each day. However, the largest and most elaborate parades take place the last five days of the Mardi Gras season. The parades in New Orleans are organized by social clubs known as krewes. Modern “super krewes” are known for holding massive parades, masquerade balls, and other events. Float riders traditionally toss throws of coveted strings of beads, doubloons (usually impressed with a krewe logo), candy, and tiny toys, but throws can also include lingerie and more provocative items. While many tourists spend their time on Bourbon Street, often major parades originate in the Uptown and Mid-City districts.

Holi

March 20 – 21, 2019. For more info click here.

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Prepare for colorful merry-making! The Holi spring festival is celebrated with bright colors, providing a welcome relief from the monotony of daily life. The day before Holi, a bonfire is lit. It is referred to as Holika or Chhoti Holi and it is meant to symbolize the triumph of good over evil. Everyone participates in the lighting of the fire. A pot of new barley seeds is kept under the pyre. When the fire burns out, these seeds are consumed. On the day of the festival, the air is filled with gulal and abeer (colored powders). Everyone bathes each other in gorgeous colors. Cannabis is commonly consumed. On the banks of the River Ganges, people gather, drenched in color to prepare a cannabis-infused drink called thandai. Holi is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phagun as per the Hindu calendar.

Running of the Bulls, Pamplona, Spain

July 6 -14, 2019. For more info click here.

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The first day of the festival starts on Friday at noon with the traditional lighting of El Chupinazo, a giant rocket shot off from Pamploma’s town hall. This signals the start of 24 hours of non-stop partying. The fiestas of San Fermin, the patron saint of Navarra, are celebrated in Pamplona, every year. The religious aspect seems to have taken a backseat over the last number of years. The fiestas have become internationally known because of the Running of the Bulls, where the bulls are lead through the streets of the old quarter by runners. The Running of the Bulls is spectacle defined by the risk and ability of the runners. If you have nerves of steel, quick reflexes and are physically fit, then lace up your running shoes for the most exciting four minutes of your life!

What epic festivals have you been to? Share your experiences in the comments below, We’d love to hear about it!

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