You won't want to miss these world-class festivals

By Julius Choudhury,

No matter where you go around the world, you will definitely love to celebrate. We round up these 28 world-class festivals for you to visit over the year, including the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival, Oktoberfest and more.

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China

Dates: Late December 2019 - late February 2020

The annual festival of China, which started in 1963, witnesses some of the biggest ice sculptures in the world. It comprises primarily four theme parks – Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo, Harbin Ice and Snow World, Harbin Wanda Ice Lantern World, and the Zhaolin Park Ice Lantern Fair – that hold various ice and snow exhibits, competitions and winter activities. Over the years, the festival has earned acclaim for its technologically sophisticated LED lightings that transform the place into a mesmerizing land.

Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan

Date: Jan. 31-Feb. 11

The snow festival is one of the largest winter events, featuring massive snow structures and attracting tourists from around the world. Started in 1950, the festival is held at three main sites — Odori Park, Susukino and Tsudome. It also conducts a beauty contest to crown the Susukino Queen of Ice.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, Taiwan

Dates: Feb. 8

Held in Taipei, the annual event is celebrated on the last day of the Lunar New Year. Hosted by the Taiwanese Tourism Bureau, the festival features lanterns and floats, which are sometimes shaped like animals and decorated with lights. People often write down wishes with a Chinese calligraphy pen before releasing the lanterns into the sky.

Holi, India

Date: March 10

The “festival of colors” celebrates the triumph of good over bad and the beginning of spring. The spirit of the festival calls for letting go all the resentment and bad feelings toward your near and dear ones. People throw “gulaal” (colorful powder) and spray colored water on each other as part of celebrations. Traditional foods, drinks and music add to the overall festive atmosphere. Though it originated in India, Holi is celebrated all across the globe, including England, U.S., Canada and Nepal.

SXSW Conference & Festivals, Texas, US

Dates: March 13-22

Held for 10 days, South by Southwest is an annual event that celebrates the coming together of interactive, film and music industries. Founded in 1987, SXSW has evolved over the years as the destination of creatives including speakers, artists and filmmakers, from across the world.

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Indio, California, US

Dates: April 10-12; April 17-19

This annual music and arts festival, held at the Empire Polo Club, is one of the most popular music festivals in the world. The double weekend event features some of the top-billed musicians and singers from various genres of music, such as rock, indie, hip-hop and electronic dance, as well as art installations and sculptures.

Songkran, Thailand

Dates: April 13-15 

The celebration marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. The three-day festival includes parades, processions and the ritual of splashing water on each other, which is believed to wash away bad luck. The festival is equally popular among locals and tourists, who flock the country in huge numbers.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Louisiana, US

Dates: April 23-May 3

Held annually since 1970, the popularity and importance of the Jazz Fest to the locals rivals that of Mardi Gras. The festival features simultaneous performances on several stages built across the Fair Grounds Racecourse. Added attractions include parades, kids’ activities, food, crafts and demonstrations.

White Nights Festival, Russia

Dates: May 22-July 21

The two-month-long international arts festival is celebrated during the season of the midnight sun in St. Petersburg. Festivities include classical ballet, opera and music events featuring both Russian and international artists. The Scarlet Sails celebration (pictured), with its spectacular fireworks, is one of the main highlights.

Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival, England

Dates: June 18-22

The event, which marks mid-summer in the Northern Hemisphere, is celebrated with the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge in Wiltshire. The summer solstice event, which attracts more than 20,000 participants every year, is increasingly getting popular for its live entertainment that features a range of local and international artists.

Glastonbury Festival, England

Dates: June 24-28

The music and performing arts festival was founded by dairy farmer Michael Eavis in 1970. Held in Somerset, the event runs for five days featuring contemporary music, dance, comedy, circus, and other forms of art. The festival, which marks its 50th anniversary in 2020, will see performances by Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney among others.

Roskilde Festival, Denmark

Date: June 27-July 4

Started in 1971, the Danish event is the largest music and art festival in Northern Europe. Currently organized by Roskilde Festival Charity Society, the festival features music from various genres, including rock, pop, electronic and hip hop.

Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland

Dates: July 3-18

Started in 1967 as a pure jazz festival, it has since widened its scope to include blues, soul, rock, hip-hop, and world music. The festival has recorded all its performances over the years and this 5,000 hours’ worth of collection is recognized by UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

San Fermín, Spain

Dates: July 6-14

The festival of San Fermín is celebrated annually in Pamplona. One of the most popular traditions associated with the festival is the Running of the Bulls. Every day, fighting bulls run down a narrow, winding, fenced alley with participants racing ahead to a bull ring at the end of the route.

Naadam, Mongolia

Dates: July 11-15 

The festival of Naadam is deeply rooted in Mongolian cultural practices and predates the legendary Mongolian ruler Genghis Khan. It features three games namely Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery. In 2010, Naadam was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.

Tomorrowland, Belgium

Dates: July 17-19 and July 24-26

First held in 2005, Tomorrowland music festival runs across two consecutive weekends, attracting some of the biggest artists from the EDM (electronic dance music) world. Some of the artists to have performed at the festival includes David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas, Steve Aoki, and Martin Garrix. The 2020 theme for the event is 'The Reflection of Love.'

Lollapalooza, Chicago, Illinois, US

Dates: July 30-Aug. 2

The festival started off as a farewell tour for Perry Farrell’s band Jane’s Addiction but soon emerged as a prominent regular event in its own right. Since its inception in 1991, the festival (cancelled in 1997 and revived in 2003) has expanded its base beyond the borders of the U.S. and staged performances in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Sweden, France and Germany. It features popular alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock, hip-hop and EDM bands and artists, along with dance and comedy performances and craft booths.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland

Dates: Aug. 7-31

The event held at the Scottish capital, attended by more than two million people, is one of the largest arts and culture festivals in the world. It features over 50,000 performances by artists from around 50 countries. Many great theatrical firsts, including debut performances of Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” took place here.

La Tomatina, Spain

Dates: Aug. 26

The traditional food fight festival on the last Wednesday of August has been held every year since 1945 in Buñol. It starts with thousands of participants racing together to snatch ham hung on top of a greasy pole. What follows is an hour of tomato-throwing pandemonium, although the origins of the tomato fight appear to be lost to posterity.

Burning Man, Nevada, US

Dates: Aug. 30-Sept. 7 

This week-long annual event held in the Black Rock Desert is a celebration of artistic self-expression. It takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy. Thousands descend upon one of the least hospitable places on Earth, transforming it into a temporary metropolis dedicated to art and community.

Oktoberfest, Germany

Dates: Sept. 19-Oct. 4

Held annually, this beer-guzzling festival in Munich traces its origins to 1810. It was originally held to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The event starts with a traditional gun salute, with beer, food and music as its highlights.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico, US

Dates: Oct. 3-11

One of the world’s largest hot air balloon festivals sees the whole of Albuquerque gearing up for fun-filled days with numerous events and competitions. What began in 1972 with 13 balloons, today attracts thousands of spectators and has become a major contributor to the city’s revenues.

Salon du Chocolat, France

Dates: Oct. 21-25

Held annually in Paris, the chocolate fair features a number of activities such as chocolate tasting sessions, workshops, chocolate sculpture contest and live performances. One of the biggest highlights of the event is the chocolate fashion show, where models present clothes made from chocolate.

Edinburgh's Hogmanay, Scotland
Dates: Dec. 30, 2020-Jan. 1, 2021

Hogmanay means the last day of the year in Scottish. In the nation’s capital, revelers carry out torchlight processions through the streets, swing burning fireballs and burn a replica of a Viking ship. There’s live entertainment and glimpses of the Scottish culture all through the night and the couple of days after. Even if you are observing from the sidelines, the fireworks display itself makes it worth your while.

Concurs de Castells, Spain

Dates: NA

Concurs de Castells is the ultimate exhibition of teamwork as people from all walks of life gather in Tarragona to construct human towers. The  teams participating in the competition are judged in their three best attempts out of five. Apart from the thrill and excitement of watching gigantic human towers, revelers can enjoy local culture as displayed in parades, music and dance festivals, concerts and street performances.

Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival, Edirne, Turkey

Dates: NA

The festival, which is one of the oldest annual sporting events in the world, was recognized by the UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage Event in 2010. Men bathed in oil wrestle it out to win the title of Chief Pehilvan (chief wrestler) and the Kirkpinar Golden Belt.

Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea

Dates: NA

People from across the country and thousands of tourists descend on the city of Boryeong to immerse themselves in the mineral-rich mud found in this region which, it is claimed, is an effective beauty treatment. The festival involves a variety of activities ranging from wrestling to mud painting. It also offers an impressive lineup of entertainment events, including music performances and dance competitions.

Sunburn Festival, India

Dates: NA

One of Asia’s largest dance music festival, Sunburn was started in Goa by entrepreneur Shailendra Singh in 2007. In 2016, the event featuring a combination of music, food, dance and shopping, was moved to the city of Pune. Over the years it has been honored by performances from artists such as Martin Garrix, Dimitri Vegas, Tiësto, DJ Snake and many more.

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Travel Magazine: You won't want to miss these world-class festivals
You won't want to miss these world-class festivals
We round up some world-class festivals for you to visit over the year, including the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival, Oktoberfest and more.
Travel Magazine
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