Ati-Atihan takes place the third Sunday of January in the small town of Kalibo in Akalan, Philippines. The three-day festival features traditional songs, dance, and colorful dress► of the native people as part of this energetic festival dating back to the 13th century.
Bali Spirit Festival, Indonesia
Yoga, Dance, Music, Bliss
Annually since 2008, the idyllic Indonesian island of Bali has played host to the Bali Spirit Festival combining dance, yoga, and music►. Ubud is a quiet, artsy town set back from the beach among picturesque rice paddies and ancient monkey forests.
Buddha Bathing Festival
Bathing Birthday Buddhas
This annual tradition honors the life of Prince Siddhatta, known to Buddhist devotees as Sakyamuni Buddha. According to legend, he was cleansed at birth by nine heavenly dragons emitting pure water. This purification led him to take seven steps, after each of which a lotus floor sprung from where his foot touched the earth, and declare his commitment to ending the suffering of all those residing in the Three Realms. So…what did you do on your first birthday?
Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival, Laos
Rockets and Fertility
Camino de Santiago, Spain
The Way of Saint James
For more than a thousand years pilgrims have been walking on a religious quest across Europe. The traditional and most popular version of the walk is called the “Camino Frances” which starts in St Jean Pied de Por and winds around Northern Spain ending in Santiago de Compostela almost 800 kilometers later.
Samba into one of the World’s Greatest Parties
Colorful costumes, beautiful dancing, parades, and wild partying fill the streets of Brazil during the month of Carnival. Though Carnival is celebrated throughout the world, the party in Brazil has grown to epic proportions.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival, China
The Cheung Chau Bun Festival in Hong Kong celebrates traditional Chinese culture. This Taoist ceremony draws tens of thousands of attendees from far and wide, filling the streets with tantalizing sights, sounds, smells, and flavors.
Chinese New Year, Hong Kong
Kung Hei Fat Choy
“Congratulations and be prosperous” is the translation of the traditional new year’s greeting of “Kung Hei Fat Choy”. The Chinese new year is based upon ancient calculations that predict the end of the winter season and the start of spring, which is the first day of the first month. This is the biggest and most celebrated Chinese Holiday at home and abroad. The celebration ends with the Lantern Festival 15 days later.
Dia de los Muertos, Mexico
Celebrate the Living by Honoring the Dead
Diwali Festival of Lights, India
Days and Nights of Light
Beautiful festival in India during late fall usually called the "Festival of Lights". Diwali is the most important holiday of the year for Hindus and for Jains it is a celebration of the attainment of nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BC.
El Colacho - Baby Jumping Festival
Leaping Lucifers the Spanish Baby Jumping Festival
One of the weirdest festivals in the world dates back to 1620 in Castrolillo de Murica, Spain. In this traditional celebration costumed devils jump over infant babies who are lined up on mattresses in the middle of the street. Patrons gather round to cheer, cringe and breathe collective sighs of relief as the babies are cleared from harm’s way. This bizarre event is the culmination of the annual El Colacho festival, which takes place over several days in late May/ early June and is thought to be a mixture of Spanish folklore and religion, though its exact origin is unknown.
Fallas de Valencia, Spain
Fire in the Streets
Every March 15th-19th, the streets of Valencia, Spain erupt with fire as part of the Fallas celebration. The festival dates back to the Middle Ages when excess goods were burned in the equivalent to a Spring cleaning. Today’s rendition takes a more grandiose approach paying homage to Spain’s history and culture with spectacular displays of pyrotechnics.
Festival of Lights, Thailand
Marvel at a Sea of Floating Sky Lanterns
It might be hard to imagine a more beautiful cultural festival. Thousands of sky lanterns (miniature hot-air balloons) are released in unison into the night sky of Thailand during the full moon of the nation's 12th lunar month. It resembles a sea of floating jellyfish on fire, some of them bursting into flames and falling like comets in the night.
Festival of Near Death, Spain
Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme
Gion Matsuri, Japan
Kyoto’s Biggest Party
For the entire month of July, Kyoto’s Gion district erupts in culture as the most lively festival of the year takes place. The Gion district is famously known as the most exclusive of the Geisha districts in Kyoto. The festival is locally known as Gion-san, is not to miss and perhaps your best shot of getting a pic of the elusive Geisha.
Hadaka Matsuri, Japan
Japan’s Naked Festival
The Japanese city of Okayama will host the Kounomiya Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festival) on February 16th, 2013. Throughout Japan, Hadaka Matsuris often take place during summer and winter months in cities around the country. These festivals are said to have originated in Okayama and if you can make the trip you’ll find out why.
Haro Wine Festival, Spain
Each year on June 29th the small town of Haro, Spain hosts the Haro Wine Festival and wine battle.
Holi Festival, India
The Most Colorful Party in the World
If you happen to find yourself in India, Sri Lanka or Nepal during the last lunar cycle of the winter called Phalguna (usually between February to March), you just might get caught in a rainbow battlefield. Every imaginable type of brightly colored dye and ink is thrown in an all-out war in the form of powder, dye or water balloons. Don’t wear any clothes you care about! It gets massively crowded and women are urged to use extra caution in the wild streets. It’s a very photogenic scene but be warned: I lost a camera to a paint-filled water balloon on the streets of Delhi.
Hounen Matsuri, Japan
The Penis Fertility Festival
Hungry Ghost Festival
The Hungry Undead
The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, or Yu Lan is a traditional Chinese festival and holiday celebrated by Chinese in many countries. In the Chinese calendar (a lunisolar calendar), the Ghost Festival is on the 15th night of the seventh lunar month (14th in southern China).
Inti Raymi, Peru
Worship the Sun, Incan Style
The Inti Raymi Festival takes place just a few miles outside the popular tourist destination of Cuzco, Peru and recreates a traditional Inca Empire celebration coinciding with the Southern hemisphere Winter Solstice. Today, the scripted ceremony honoring the Sun takes place each year on June 24th and is the second largest festival in South America with over than 100,000 visitors.
Kanamara Matsuri, Japan
“Festival of the Steel Phallus" Stands Up to the Hype
Kumbh Mela, India
The World’s Largest Gathering
This is the largest single gathering of humanity in the world. Every 3 years, Hindus gather in the tens of millions on the banks of the Ganges,► the river that according to legend, collected the drops of immortality that fell from the kumbh (pitcher of life) in ancient times. The gathering is centered in Allahbad, Hardiwar. Take a crowded bus or train from New Delhi (DEL).
Los Diablos Danzantes, Venezuela
The Dancing Devils of Yare
The Dancing Devils of Yare (Diablos Danzantes del Yare) is the name of a religious festivity celebrated in San Francisco de Yare, Venezuela, every year on Corpus Christi day. The Sociedades del Santísimo (Societies of the Holiest) are the instigators of this devilish celebration. Its origins are traced back to the 18th century, and it’s noted as being the oldest brotherhood of the American continent.
Mardi Gras, New Orleans (USA)
Masquerade Carnival, Venice
Venice, Italy celebrates the Carnival season leading up to Ash Wednesday with a historic and elegant masquerade for the ages. Expect to be entertained by music, theater, and a water parade among other cultural events. Traditional masks play a central role► in this ancient celebration. There are three types of masks typified in the Italian masquerade.
Molten Iron Throwing Festival, China
DaShuHua Tree Flower Festival
No money for fireworks, no problem for creative locals in Nuanquan, China who discovered a new way to make fire explode in celebration of the annual Lantern Festival.
Monkey Buffet, Thailand
The monkeys of Lopburi, a central provence of Thailand, are considered to be direct descendants of Hanuman the mischievous monkey god who made Lopburi his kingdom.
Moon Festival, China
Moonbeams and Mooncakes
Night of the Radishes, Mexico
A Radish-ing Food Festival
Oaxaca, Mexico has celebrated the Night of Radishes each December 23rd since 1897. This cultural food event puts elaborate radish sculptures on display for thousands of onlookers.
Night of the Witches, Germany
Dance Until Dawn on Witch Mountain
Walpurgis Night or Walpurgisnacht is a festival to experience yourself and a springtime tradition in Northern and Central Europe. Finland, Estonia, Sweden and Germany all have their own variations of this mysterious holiday. Much folklore lies around the date of May 1st as a known time for witches and wizards to convene with the devil in dance around the fire know as the Hexentanzplatz or “witches’ dance”.
Onbashira Festival, Japan
Japanese men ride dangerously giant logs as part of the Onbashira Festival once every six years in Nagano for one of the most outrageous traditions on earth!
Paraty Mud Carnival, Brazil
The “Bloco de Lama”, A Mudslinging Carnival
Get your mud on at the Paraty Mud Carnival in Brazil! Officially named Bloco de Lama, this is part of the annual Paraty Carnival. Partiers adorn themselves with thick mud and chant “Uga uga uga! Ra ra ahhh!” along Jabaquara Beach and march into the historic district of town, where the rest of the carnival takes place. It’s quite a sight to see hundreds of mud people rocking out in this colonial beach town.
Pingxi Lantern Festival, Taiwan
This beautiful festival is one built upon ancient traditions. Pingxi is a remote mountain town and before modern communication and in times of war, villagers would send communication by sky lantern to let their families know they were safe after making the perilous trek through the surrounding mountains.
Pushkar Camel Fair, India
Two Humps Up!
Each year at the time of the Kartik Prunima full moon (usually in October or November) 50,000 camels migrate to Pushkar to be traded, along with thousands more horses, cows, goats, and sheep. For centuries, pilgrims and farmers have come from around India to this ancient holy city for the world’s largest camel fair.
Most festivals origins can be traced back to religious significance of some sort. The idea or ritual has shaped community and culture through the ages.
Easter Mass Rocket War
Looking for a way to break tradition this Easter? Consider venturing to the town of Vrontados in Chios, Greece for the spectacular Rocket Festival. The parishes of Panagia Erythiani and Agios Markos fill the skies of this Northern Greek island with tens of thousands of handmade rockets in an unique Easter celebration.
Santacon - Santanarchy
Ho Ho Hos
The legend of Santa Claus comes from the mythology of the nordic Northern Europe. Today cultures all over the world celebrate the legend of a jolly old fat man with a flying sleigh and reigndeer who travels the world on Christmas Eve to bring presents to all good boys and girls.
Semana Santa, Guatemala
Semana Santa (which translates precisely to “Holy Week”) is the annual celebration around the week of Easter. Anyone who has spent time in a traditional God-fearin’ Latin American nation knows how seriously they take their holy holidays and Guatemala’s is no exception. However, the parades that take place in the cosmopolitan city of Antigua, a beautiful city square located in the heart of a verdant valley, are such sumptuous and regal affairs, they’re not to be missed by the less pious spectator.
Solstice at Stonehenge, UK
Begin the longest day of the year at Stonehenge
Thousands worship the Summer Solstice on June 21st at the ancient historical and mythological stone sculptures of Wiltshire County, England to watch sunrise at Stonehenge.
St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland
The Luck of the Irish
Visit Dublin, Ireland for the 4 days of its St. Patrick’s Day celebration and enjoy a lively display of Irish culture, tradition and partying. This national holiday recognizes the life of Saint Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland, and has celebrated national pride for over 1000 years.
Offerings on the Edge
Each year, on the full moon of the 10th month of the Hindu calendar, thousands make the journey to the southern Indian city of Palani for Thaipusam for the chance to have a wish granted by Lord Subramanya. Singapore, Malaysia, and other countries with Tamil Hindi populations celebrate this bizarre holiday.
The Greatest Show on Earth
Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago is the most significant event on the islands. It is said that if the islanders are not celebrating it, then they are preparing for it, while reminiscing about the past year's festival. The heart of the musical celebration has been calypso; recently soca has replaced calypso as the most celebrated type of music. Costumes, stickfighting and limbo competitions are also important components of the festival.
Vegetarian Festival, Thailand
Delicious Food and Self-Mutilation
For 10 days during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually during October), all of Thailand celebrates the Vegetarian Festival. Locals of Chinese ancestry and tourists alike enjoy a wide variety of vegetarian Thai food, in hopes of good fortune and spiritual purification.
Viareggio Carnival, Italy
The Best Carnival in Europe
The Viareggio Carnival attracts international attention to the small Italian city for the largest Carnival celebration in Europe!
Water Festival, Thailand
Thai Water Fight!
The Songkran Water Festival in Thailand is a nation-wide water fight held in the name of spiritual cleansing and prosperity. The festival’s date formerly corresponded with the New Year of many Southeast Asian nations’ calendars. Now it’s set as a national holiday for April 13th-15th each year.
Yamayaki Grass Burning, Japan
Fire on the Mountain