Traveling gives us the chance to discover new places, explore spectacular landscapes and enjoy local culinary tastes; but traveling can also give us the opportunity to get into the heart of a country’s culture plus experience unique local traditions and festivals. Here are some unexpected cultural experiences worth discovering on your travels.
1. Yi Peng Festival, Thailand: Light and Liberation
The Yi Peng Festival in Thailand is a magical, fairytale experience. Participants release thousands of paper lanterns into the sky, creating an absolutely remarkable light and color show. This festival takes place every year in the month of November and marks the Full Moon.
2. Holi, India: Festival of Colors
Holi is a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil and the arrival of spring. What makes this festival truly unique is the fact that people throw colored dusts and splash colored water, turning the whole atmosphere into a spectacle full of color & joy.
3. Up Helly Aa Festival, Scotland: Vikings Alive
This festival takes place in the Shetland Islands of Scotland and is a celebration of Viking heritage – participants dress up in Viking costumes, burn a wooden ship and organize an impressive fire show. It is a very special cultural and historical experience.
4. Fiesta de San Fermín, Spain: Running of the Bulls
The Fiesta de San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain is celebrated every summer and is especially known for the “encierro” or running of the bulls: people line the narrow streets and run in front of the bulls as the fiesta begins. It’s a bold and unexpected tradition that attracts visitors from all over the world.
5. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Dance and Energy
The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most famous festivals in the world; it is known for its elaborate parades, frenzied dances and extravagant costumes. It is an unforgettable experience for those who want to experience Brazilian energy & joy.
6. Diwali, India: Festival of Lights
Diwali – or the Festival of Lights – is a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of light over darkness and evil: people light lamps and candles in their homes and cities are spectacularly illuminated. It is a festival full of symbolism and beauty.
7. Aka National Festival, Cameroon: Aka Boys Jumps
This unique festival in Cameroon celebrates the culture of the Aka boys – an indigenous ethnic group. One of the key highlights of the festival is the jumping competition of the Aka boys; they make these impressive jumps to demonstrate their agility & strength.
8. La Tomatina, Spain: Battle of the Reds
La Tomatina is an unusual festival in Bunol, Spain where people throw tomatoes at each other for an hour in a tomato eating fight. It is a fun and energetic event that attracts participants from all over the world.
9. Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, China: World of Ice and Snow
This festival in Harbin, China brings together ice & snow sculptors from around the world to create impressive works of art; the park becomes a magical world of ice and light during the festival.
10. Inti Raymi, Peru: Festival of the Sun
Inti Raymi is an Inca festival in Peru that celebrates the Sun God – participants dress in traditional costumes, hold processions and ceremonies to honor the sun, a vital source for culture and agriculture.
These are just a few of the unexpected cultural experiences you can discover on your travels; each festival and tradition has its own story and meaning, giving you the opportunity to connect with the culture and history of the places you visit. So when planning your next adventure consider attending a local festival or tradition for a truly unique experience.