Five must-see world festivals

We all love some good old-fashioned merrymaking, and these festivals – some that go back hundreds and even thousands of years – are a great excuse to bring people together to celebrate life. Why not experience some of them for yourself? A kaleidoscope of carnivals and colour, these five must-see events may be worth adding to your bucket list.

1. Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Carnival is a traditional Brazilian festival held immediately before the season of Lent, and involves four days of crazy costumes, circus-like parades, frenzied dancing and delirium and debauchery. Rio’s Carnival is quite possibly the biggest party in the world, and attracts millions of Brazilians and an estimated half a million foreigners every year to partake in the revelry.

2. Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

We Australians love a beer, but ‘ze Germans’ are even bigger fans of the amber liquid. Oktoberfest is the biggest beer party in the world, and each year millions of people head to Munich to partake beery bliss. With maniacal merrymaking in tents that fit thousands, thousands of litres of beer are imbibed from heavy glass mugs and knee-high glass boots. Oktoberfest is a must-visit event for beer lovers all over the world.

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3. Chinese New Year, Hong Kong, China

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, is celebrated all over the world, but nowhere is it more impressive than in Hong Kong. There’s an award-winning sound and light show, giant flower markets, and a truly spectacular fireworks show. The party climaxes on the final night with the International Chinese New Year Parade.


4. Holi Festival, India

Holi Festival, held in northern India, is known as the ‘Festival of Colours’, and all you have to do is look at the image to see why. Holi is a welcoming party for spring, which starts on the last full moon of the lunar month, falling sometime around February or March. The Hindu festival starts with a Holika bonfire, a ritual that signifies the burning of the devil. It then culminates in a three-day revelry of singing, dancing and frolicking about, with participants filling the streets and public squares and drenching each other with buckets and water balloons filled with dyed water. It may not be the best festival to wear your whites, but it sure looks like a lot of fun.


5. Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun), Peru

Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun, was the most important religious ceremony of the ancient Incas, and was held as a celebration of the winter solstice in honour of the god Inti – one of the most venerated deities in Inca culture. Back in the day, the festival lasted for nine days and included colourful dances, processions and animal sacrifices undertaken as thanks for a good harvest. Today, this Incan carnival takes the form of a theatrical representation of the old ways, and attracts tens of thousands of tourists and local visitors who wish to celebrate the glory of the Incan past.

Would you be interested in attending any of these events? Which other events would you add to this list?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.