Tour de World Festivals

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Ever wondered about the many festivals around the world? Have you ever been to one or plan to? Here is my guide to the ultimate top 5 festivals to visit within your life time!

1) Día de Muertos – Mexico, Europe, USA

Credit: Tom Hilton [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

What is it all about?

Firstly, this is not a Mexican version of Halloween. Day of the Dead is a two day festival, from 1st November to the 2nd November every year. Despite death being the focus, it is an explosion of colour, celebration and joy. While grief for the dead is common in the UK, the point is to demonstrate love, respect and celebrate their deceased family; something which we could learn from! They believe in life after death and that in the end, they will be reunited with their loved ones; combining ancient Hispanic rituals with Catholic traditions. When the event takes place, they believe that the deceased can walk amongst the living on theses days; so they celebrate and remember their loved ones lives with this fiesta!

How do I fit in?

In Mexico, you may revel in this electrifying sight but do not look like a tourist, you’ll definitely stand out! Be like a local and put on your funky Calavera Catrina (the skull makeup you will often see floating around on the internet – a personification of death), dust off your fancy dress, take part and celebrate your loved ones.

2) Up Helly Aa Fire Festival— Lerwick, Scotland

Credit: Vicky Brock [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

What is this all about?

Taking place on the last Tuesday in January, this is definitely a festival to warm you up on a cold, briskly night (and for those who enjoy a little danger). This is Europe’s largest fire festival, where you get to burn a full-scale Viking ship – because you know… freedom was eventually achieved when Scotland ended the Viking reign.

How do I fit in?

Simply join in! There will be fire, feasting, fancy dress and fun – what’s not to love?! The torchlit procession and galley burning echo pagan Norse rituals at the cremation of great chieftains, and religious ceremonies to mark the Sun’s return after the winter solstice. Many people dress up as it was part of prehistoric fertility rites. Likewise, the feasting and dancing continue saga traditions from the winter drinking halls of Viking warriors! It is free to spectate the march in the morning and the ceremonial burning of the ship, but for other events such as the feast, I urge you to get tickets quick!

3) Mardi Gras — New Orleans

Credit: Bart Everson [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

What is this all about?

This occurs on Shrove Tuesday every year, to celebrate before Lent begins. It is a time to go crazy, indulge in Carnival celebrations, take to the streets and eat delicious foods such as pancakes/ King Cake (a brioche platted dough, laced with cinnamon and decorated with Mardi Gras colours).

How do I fit in?

Eat. Drink. Be merry! On another note though, wear brightly coloured clothes, hand out sparkly strings of beads and take part in the masquerade ball!

4) Lantern Festival — Pingxi, Taiwan

Credit: Chi-Hung Lin [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

What is this all about?

This relatively new event is about celebrating Taiwan folklore and to coincide with the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival and the Yanshui Fireworks Festival. This falls on the 1st full moon in the lunar calendar to mark Chinese New Year and was originally used by villagers to let their families know they were safe. Now however, they carry people’s wishes and hopes for the new year. Feel like the real life Rapunzel – maybe At Last I See the Light may play in the background as you spectate this tranquil event.

How do I fit in?

Light one up and attach your hopes for the coming year!

5) Holi (Festival of Colours) – India, Sri Lanka and other Hindu regions

Credit: Herri Bizia [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

What is this all about?

Holi is set in religion, but also celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Just as spring is about new life, the festival is about forgiving your foes and embracing a new start. Oh, it is also about the food too; it’s fun, safe, and free! In recent years, the festival has spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love, frolic, and colours.

How do I fit in?

Do not be afraid to throw dye at strangers, get stuck in and enjoy!

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From: Essex Studying: English Year of study: 1 Wish I could be travelling, but I'm here!

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