General Travel Travel Diary

Chasing Festivals Around the World in 2013 (Part 1: January to June)

There may be different ideas about how to have a party but who doesn’t like a good party?

One way to explore and travel the world is to chase the festivals of different countries, cultures and religion. Some of the best times on my trips have been around festivals, which often bring out the spirit of a place and make you feel like you belong.

Here are some to get you started for the first half of the 2013.

JANUARY

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Imagine Disneyland made out of ice. The Harbin Ice and Snow Festival is an annual event of twenty years that celebrates snow. Think sculptures of famous characters, castles made out of snow and ice, and an entire city that is covered with the spirit of the cold.

The festival will be held between 28 December 2012 and 28 February 2013.

www.icefestivalharbin.com

Magh Mela Festival

A yearly festival held at Sangam in Allahabad, where the Ganges, Yanuma and the Saraswati meet. Devote Hindu pilgrims visit this site and bath in the water to wash away their sins and cleanse their soul.

The festival is considered the mini- Kumbh Mela, which is celebrated on a 12 year cycle.

The festival will be held between 10 January and 26 February in 2013.

FEBRUARY

Carnevale Venezia

Since the 15th century, Carnevale Venezia (Carnival of Venice) is the biggest day of a Venetian’s calendar, and it celebrates the coming spring and is famous for its masks and extravagant medieval outfits. It’s about the colours, the glamour at the world’s biggest fancy-dress party.

To really enjoy the festival, make sure you have a mask. Have a genuine Venetian mask made at a local mask maker, and parade it along with the processions.

Carnevale Venezia will be held between 26 January and 12 February 2013

www.carnevale.venezia.it

Oruro Carnival

February is certainly carnival time around the world, and other than the famous Carnival at Rio, an alternative is Bolivia’s largest annual celebration, the Oruro Carnival. Held in Oruro, Bolivia, the Oruro Carnival is listed by UNESCO as a ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage and Humanity’ that features around 20,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians. The main act La Diablada,  the ‘Dance of the Decils’ showcases demonic dancers in extravagant costumes.

The festival will be held between 8 to 11 February in 2013.

MARCH

Holi Festival

For Hindus and Sikhs in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the Holi Festival is an important celebration of the coming of spring. Originally known as ‘Holika’ and is also known as the Festival of Colours, the festival pays tribute to traditional Hindu gods, and is known to be one of the most secular holidays in India.

The Holi Festival will be held on the 27 March in 2013.

Nyepi 

The Nyepi is the Balinese New Year on Indonesia’s resort island, Bali.

Nyepi Eve, Tawur Agung Kesanga, is the ‘Day of Great Sacrifices’. Most of the action happens on this day when ogoh-ogoh figures (giant monster figures) are paraded around town accompanied by gamelan music to frighten away evil spirits. These figures are then burned as a symbolic gesture to cleanse the land of evil for the start of the new year.

Nyepi Day is a stark contrast of the activities the day before, and is a day of silence when shops, bars and restaurants are closed and no one is allowed to leave their homes (and hotels). It is a day dedicated for reflection, to plan the year ahead with the family and to connection with the spirits.

Nyepi will fall on 12 March 2013.

APRIL

Songkran Water Festival

Water is sacred to the Thai culture, and throughout Thailand in April, the Sangkran Water Festival celebrates the Lunar New Year in Thailand as a way to bless each other with well wishes. There are no barriers to who gets soaked, with locals and tourists alike taking part in this big water fight. Water balloons, water pistols and bucks are all out creating the fun.

Songkran Water Festival will run from 13 – 15 April 2013.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

‘Jazz Fest’ is New Orleans’ second biggest festival and is the reason why 400,000 visitors a year come to this vibrant city. The event has great cultural significance for the region that combines music with food and crafts. It is two weekends of feel-good music that showcase some of the best musicians such as Norah Jones, Harry Connick Jr, Rod Stewart and Steely Dan.

The festival will be held from 26 April to 5 May 2013.

www.nojazzfest.com

MAY

Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling

Chase a small block of cheese down a steep slope may not sound like an idea of a great festival, but the guys at Cooper’s Hill, Brockworth in England are here to prove you wrong. On this monday in May, a handmade, seven-pound Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down the hill and the whole town and its visitors tumble and roll behind it, the way their ancestors had chased the cheese in its 200 years of history.

The cheese will roll again on the 27 May in 2013.

www.cheese-rolling.co.uk

JUNE

Inti Raymi

Festival of the Sun celebrates the old Inca religion and tradition of worshipping the Sun God – Inti. Traditionally, this festival involved mass sacrifice of llamas however today’s version is simply a re-enactment of the ceremony, which was the most important ceremony carried out in the capital of Cuzco.

The festival takes place at the ruins of Sacsayhuaman in Cusco and is a rare glimpse into the culture of the Incas of the past.

Inti Raymi will be held on 24 June in 2013.

Next: Chasing Festivals Around The World (Part 2)

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