10 Interesting Festivals to Visit Around the World in 2016

November 24, 2015

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that by the time the end of November rolls around, we can all do with a good holiday. With Christmas coming up, many people are required to stay in work right up until the arrival of Father Christmas on the 24th December, so to help you out, we’ve put together a list of interesting festivals you might like to visit in 2016, rather than the usual trip to Spain, Disneyland or Glastonbury. And as you’d expect, they all feature fantastic entertainment!

Harbin Ice Festival, China

If you’d like to kick off your January in style, why not take a trip to the Harbin Ice Festival in China? Rather than huddling around a fire indoors, you can visit a city made exclusively of ice. The gleaming city is put together from scratch each and every year and features wedding ceremonies, incredible light shows, ice slides and mazes. So much entertainment, so little time. And it’s quite literally the coolest festival you could ever hope to visit!

Up Helly Aa, Scotland

If you’re not quite feeling flush with the cash (and how many of us are, post-Christmas?!) then why not head north to celebrate Up Helly Aa on the Shetland Isles? Fire Fury would be in their element as locals in the town of Lerwick walk through their streets with lit torches and flames aplenty! Nothing puts fire in your belly quite like watching the public (dressed as Vikings no less!) burning down huge Nordic longships and partying all night long! Of course, if you’d rather visit other interesting British festivals, there’s always the cheese rolling in Gloucester (which doesn’t feature fire) or carrying flaming tar barrels through Ottery St. Mary (which does).    

 Battle of the Oranges, Italy

Amidst the madness of the Pamplona bull run in Spain each year, it used to be that if you didn’t fancy the possibility of being gored to death by a bovine that you could simply chuck tomatoes at one another in Valencia instead. Alas, there wasn’t much of a middle ground between the two… Until now. The Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea, northern Italy, is exactly as it sounds. A festival where you throw oranges at anyone who happens to be nearby. The origins of the Battle of the Oranges are  a little unclear but if it sounds like your kind of thing then book your Italian break for February.

Songkran, Thailand

Focus on staying in the UK during March and then jet off to Thailand for Songkran in April. Held over three days, this celebration really allows you to ‘splash out’ whilst on vacation. Songkran is held over the hottest days of the year across the entire country of Thailand, traditionally a festival where everybody engages in water fights with one another to keep cool. It used to be that the water represented cleansing but nowadays it’s more of an excuse to douse people down in the most unique ways possible. Hence the title photo of an elephant spraying down a parent and child on a motorbike (above).

Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea

Here we’ve spotted a bit of  a problem with the world’s festival planners for you can spend July celebrating Boryeong in South Korea – covering yourself with mud in the process – but the water festival in Thailand has already gone three months previously! Nightmare. Still, if mud is your thing then Boryeong is very much the festival for you for there’s a huge range of things to do from mud racing, mud sliding and intriguingly, mud fireworks. There’s even time for a bit of soap making as well. Perfect.

 Lee Jae-Won/Reuters 

Burning Man, USA

If you’ve only heard of one of the festivals on this list then it’s probably August’s Burning Man, a festival that take places way out in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA. It’s difficult to quite put into words what happens at Burning Man but for just one week each year it’s a haven for like-minded creatives and expressionists who are looking something a little different in their life. A temporary utopian space, Burning Man is the perfect destination for someone whose searching for something less regimented in their holiday experience.

Las Bolas de Fuego, El Salvador

If tomato throwing isn’t your thing and lobbing oranges at each other still seems too tame, why not hop on over to El Salvador in Central America? Not only is there a song by Jamie T about the nation, but it also features the (frankly terrifying) August festival, Las Bolas de Fuego! Located in the town of Nejapa, wire-tied rags are soaked in kerosene, lit with a match or lighter and then hurled at participants. Yes, really. Apparently representing the volcanic eruption of El Playon in 1658, presumably no Health & Safety Officer has bothered to pop along to see if it fulfils requirements.

Punkin’ Chunkin’, USA

Included not only for the fact it sounds extremely entertaining but also because it has probably the greatest festival name of all time, even though it doesn’t remotely make sense. ‘Pumpkin Chuckin’’ would be a perfectly good title for the festival, but Punkin’ Chunkin’ is what the residents of Bridgeville, Delaware have gone for and who are we to question it? Obviously taking place during Hallowe’en, competitors take part to see how far they can launch a pumpkin using whatever contraption they’ve invented. Industrial innovation, feats of engineering and even a beauty pageant; what more could you want? Fine. All profits go to local education as well. Not bad at all!

MassKara Festival, Philippines

Undoubtedly the festival on this list that features the very best costumes, MassKara in the Philippines is a celebration of vibrancy amidst a sugar sale crisis. When sugar sales in Bacolod dissolved (ha!) in the 1980s, the local government decided that a ‘Festival of Smiles’ was what the public needed. In the UK this would probably met with a disdainful roll of the eyes but in the Philippines, the result was a 20 day extravaganza of carnival, music and street dance to name but a few.

 Monkey Buffet Festival, Thailand

What do you get when you combine 3,000 macaques and a horde of locals willing to feed them? That’s right, the brilliantly named Monkey Buffet Festival! Over 4,000 kilos of fruit, sweets and fizzy drinks are left out for the primates who gorge themselves silly for a wonderful few days, happily posing (well, ish) for the cameras and delighting the Lopburi residents and tourists as they go. Not just a fun day for festival for monkeys, people also indulge in a bit of music, dance and yes, monkey fancy dress. Genius! What’s more, if  you are quick, you can attend it this year! It will take place tomorrow, the 25th November… Or you could always wait until next year.



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By Henry Fosdike