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Escaping Cultural Brainwashing

50 Greatest Festivals in the World

This is the guide to the best and most interesting festivals in the world, organized by date to help you plan your travels accordingly. From hot air balloons to water fights, this list has it all. Many of the dates are variable, so be sure to check online to find out the specific dates for your festivals! And read the 100 Most Beautiful Places in the World in Pictures & the 100 Most Amazing, Unique, & Beautiful Hotels in the World


Get the eBook: Bucket List Festivals!



1- Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, China: January 5- February 5

People build incredible things out of ice and snow, decorating them with lights and lasers.

2- Chinese New Year: Between January 21 & February 20

The biggest Chinese holiday, with dragons, fireworks, symbolic clothing, flowers, lanterns, and celebration, everywhere in China, and even in other Asian countries.

3- Sundance Film Festival, Utah, USA: end of January

The largest independent film festival in the US. Watch both feature length films and shorts. You need to buy a ticket.

4- Magh Mela Festival India: January

Hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus bathe in the rivers.

5- Up Helly Aa Fire Festival, Scotland: January

Torches, tar barreling, parties, flamboyant costumes, and the burning of a replica viking ship make this an exciting festival.


6- Holi Festival, India: Late February/March, on the last full moon day.

Hindus and Sikh, in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka celebrate the main day of this incredibly fun 16-day religious festival by throwing colored powder and water at each other. Learn more about the Holi festival.

7- The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: February or March

A week of extravagant parades, dancing, colors, and alcohol makes this one of the most exciting and well-known festivals in the world.

8- Mardi Gras, New Orleans, USA: late February or Early March

Beads and booze. A crazy celebration before lent, aka the last day before giving up sinful pleasure.

9- Pingxi Lantern Festival, Taiwan: February

People write their wishes on fire lanterns and release them into the sky en masse, creating a beautiful spectacle of floating lights.

10- Carnival of Venice, Italy: between February & March

One of the most beautiful festivals in the world, people wear masks and elaborate costumes to hide differences among classes, and there are contests for the best costumes.

11- The Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Italy: February

An enormous food fight where people form organized teams and throw oranges at each other.

12- Desert Festival of Jaisalmer, India: February

Witness cultural events like camel races, and a moonlit concert. Want to get there? Take an SUV or camel safari.


13- Ultra Music Festival, Miami, Florida: Late March

A very intense electronic music festival for the partiers out there. Make sure to dress outrageously.

14- Calle Ocho, Miami, Florida, USA: March

An exciting Cuban street festival in Little Havana, with food and live music.

15- Las Fallas, Valencia: March 15-19

Fire, fireworks, smoke, and excitement make this festival a cross between Disney World and the apocalypse.

16- Saint Patrick’s Day Festival, Dublin, Ireland: March 17

There is a parade, costumes, music, comedy, film, and drinking. Learn more about St. Patrick’s Day.

17- Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland, Colorado: March

Dress up like a frozen dead guy and participate in events like a coffin race, a polar plunge, a parade, and partying. Learn more about the Frozen Dead Guy Days.


18- Songkran Water Festival, Thailand: April 13-15

The Thai New Year festival falls on some of the hottest days in Thailand, and people celebrate by throwing water on each other, using water guns, buckets, hoses- whatever they can get their hands on. Learn more about Songkran.

19- Koninginnendag (Queen’s Day), Netherlands: April 29 or 30

This is a national holiday and a “free market” day, so everyone sells everything on the streets. There are games, concerts, performances, and parties on boats in the canals. Learn more about Koninginnendag.

20- Sandfest, Port Aransas, Texas: April

An amazing sand sculpture contest with live entertainment.


21- Glastonbury Music Festival, England: last weekend of June

The largest open air music and preforming arts festival in the world.

22- Festival of the Sun, Peru: June 24

Expositions, street fairs, and live music mark the celebration of the sun god.

23- White Nights Festival/Scarlet Sails, St.Petersburg, Russia: end of June

Scarlet Sails is just one part of the white nights festival, including spectacular fireworks, concerts, and a mock battle among pirates in boats on the Neva River.

24- Food and Wine Classic, Aspen, Colorado: June

Participate in food and wine tasting, and watch cooking demonstrations, speakers, and a cooking competition. You need to buy a ticket.


25- San Fermin Festiva, Pamplona, Spain: July

There are many events including folkloric ones, but the most famous is the running of the bull.

26- Panafest, Ghana, Africa: July-August

An African cultural celebration with theatre, drama, music, conferences, fashion, and art.

27- Pflasterspektakel, Austria: July

A huge street art festival with all kinds of crazy performances.

28- Spice Mas Carnival, Grenada: July-August

An independence day celebration with Calypso music, a steel band competition, elaborate dress, and plenty of big events.

29- Music City, Nashville, Tenessee, USA: July 4

One of the biggest 4th of July festivals, with fireworks and country music.


30- La Tomatina, Buñol, Spain: last Wednesday in August

The whole point of this festival is to throw tomatoes at people. Yeah. Its awesome.

31- Lollapalooza, Chicago, USA: August

A metal, rock, punk, and hiphop festival with some craft and comedy mixed in.

32- Obon Fesitval, Japan: August

Families release floating lanterns into the water to represent their ancestors’ spirits being sent off.

33- Gay Pride Parade, Amsterdam, Netherlands: first weekend of August

A huge gay pride festival, include a canal parade down the river on boats.


34- Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA: Last Monday of August- first Monday of September

A major, amazing festival where a self-relient community of radical art, self expression, and awesomeness is created and removed without a trace one week each year.

35- Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany: Late September-first weekend in October

One word: beer. This festival is now held all around the world. It is an important part of Bavarian culture.

36- Grape Throwing Festival, Mallorca, Spain: last weekend in September

Throw huge amount of grapes at people and participate in other fun events.


37- Fantasy Fest, Key West, Florida: last week of October

A colorful parade and parties in the notoriously liberal town of Key West.

38- Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico: early October

Over 750 hot air balloons take to the skies, some are illuminated at night, and some are uniquely shaped.

39- Diwali Festival of Lights: October/November

A family-oriented festival with firecrackers, sweets, and the lighting of small clay lamps and candles.

40- Halloween Festival of the Dead, Salem, Massachusetts, USA: end of October

Costume balls, vampire masquerades, psychic fairs and ghost hunting make Salem one of the top Halloween destinations.

41- Keene Pumpkin Festival, New Hampshire, USA: October

Massive towers of Jack-o-Lanterns, fireworks, and music draw a huge crowd.


42- Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Mexico: November 2

Friends and family gather to celebrate loved ones who have passed on, through elaborate traditions of food, art, colors, and culture.

43- Pushkar Camel Festival, India: November

An enormous camel fair with music, events, exhibitions, and cultural market stalls.

44- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York, USA: 4th Thursday of November

Giant balloons shaped like characters, as well as floats, bands, and entertainment, are paraded around New York city.

45- Monkey Buffet Festival, Lopburi, Thailand: end of November

The point of this festival is to give fruits and vegetables to monkeys and attract tourism. It works.


46- Junkanoo, Nassau, Bahamas: December 26 & January 1

A street festival with art, music, culture, elaborate costumes, and a parade, to bring in the new year.

47- Natchitoches Christmas Festival, Louisiana: December

Parades, boats, lights, and Christmas celebrations.

Varied Dates

48- Full Moon Party, Haad Rin, Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand: the night before or after every full moon

Like something straight from a movie, 20-30,000 people gather each full moon to spend the night partying on a beach and doing wild events like fire rope skipping.

49- Olympic Games: summer or winter every other year

Thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a variety of sports. The opening ceremony is always a spectacle. If you don’t know what the Olympics are… well, lets not go there.

50- Love Parade, Germany (canceled)

One of the world’s biggest festivals, celebrated from 1989-2003 & 2006-2010, it included electronic music, costumes, and “let-lose” behavior. Unfortunately due to the tragic deaths of 21 participants in 2010 due to over crowding, the Love Parade has been permanently canceled.



Bucket List Festivals features 100 articles, including pictures and 100 links to interesting YouTube videos to put you in the heart of the action, this book is full of great festivals that you’ll want to attend in your lifetime. It is available for $4.99 on Amazon Kindle and as a PDF file from eJunkie.

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  1. Simone Berger

    i like the ones where you throw things at people

    • Jacqueline Boss

      lol me too. i kind of wanted to do a whole post about that. “the greatest events where you throw things at people”

      • John Go

        Throwing tomatoes or grapes a top festival? Hello?

        • tasha

          hahahaha actually latomatina (tomato fest) is one of my best travel experiences. it is a great day and so full on. i recommend every one to do this crazy event.

        • Both in Spain FYI

      • You are invited “Small World Festival – December 24, 2012. Hill Tribe culture and traditions in Thailand are under threat of extinction.Help us promote a greater awareness of the rich cultural traditions of the hill tribe children by supporting the third annual Small World Mae Hong Son Festival.MaeHongSon has long been isolated from the outside world.
        This unique festival brings together hundreds of hill tribe children and their teachers from remote schools in Mae Hong Son Province, Northern Thailand. Thank you!

  2. I think you should put sinulog in the list. Sinulog in Cebu, Philippines

  3. This list is missing one of the biggest in the world, Pasifika, a one night and day festival of Pacific Islands cultures, in Auckland, New Zealand.

    Past audiences have ranged between 100,000 to 300,000, and with a dozen islands showing traditional and modern culture it’s an unbeaten way of getting an introduction to the region.

  4. Suzy

    What about the Calgary Stampede?! Greatest outdoor show on Earth!!

  5. I think I need to go to one of this festival as a lifetime experience…

  6. ayushi

    the festivals are amazing….i didn’t knew abt them….and didn’t thought dat so much wee there…..i want to xperience la tomatino festival of Spain.

  7. ayushi

    i think that DURGA PUJA shud be included in the list which is celebrated in kolkata, India.

    • Deepak Tak

      Yes it must be there..

    • anindya

      Surely surely surely

  8. Taylor

    I made this brite to feature my favorite pics from you great blog! Credit to you at the end!

  9. justin

    OVER ALL Your website is GREAT!! i hope you kep it up because im going to be using it ALOT!!


    Ps. ill be sharing on facebook so more people can get to use this awesome site!

  10. cheyenne

    Correction: It’s Port Aransas, TX. NOT Port “Arkansas”. No such place exists!

    • Jacqueline Boss

      Thanks, I changed it in the post.

  11. Devarun Nath

    please try to cover the whole world. “Durga puja-Kolkata” should come to this list…

  12. sara

    plz give us more information abt d festival…..<3 <3

  13. J

    You included Mardi Gras and left out Festival International de Louisiane?! Are you insane?!

    • Jacqueline Boss


  14. Meghan

    Oh man, i can’t believe Texas Renaissance Festival was left out of this list!! It’s the second largest Renaissance festival (Largest in America) in the world! Early October-Late November!

  15. How could they forget Trinival Carnival in February. Home of two Miss Universe winners located in the Caribbean . Three days and nights of fabulous costumes, parties or fetes as we say and drinking and dancing in the streets. It is the most amazing place to visit with friendly people and beautiful women in stunning costumes. Yes lots of cute guys. Ask some of the stars like Mick Jaggar who has been going for years. If you want to have a good time and you don’t need a lot of sleep make your reservations now because they book up at the hotels quickly. Better yet, if you know a Trini ask them to invite you to spend carnival at their beautiful island. Oh! Did I mention the delicious yummy local food? You will never taste food like this. Ask for Palau, or curry chicken with roti, or call aloo, and doubles for breakfast. And. Rum Punch to die for. Ready to go aren’t you. Have fun liming with Trinies that is what we are called.

  16. You may want to add Mumbai’s biggest Street Art Festival – “Kala Ghoda Arts Festival”.

    This street festival starts on the first Saturday of February and goes on for 9 days. In 2013, there are over 425 events related to movies, theater, dance, children’s events, workshops, heritage, literary, etc.

  17. All Carnival pale in comparison to Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival. The birthplace and home of modern Carnival. The problem is not many people know about Trinidad and Tobago. I mean If Countries had Jobs, Trinidad and Tobago’ profession would be carnival
    Brazil and Grenada? Please, they followed TnT and their carnival is a couple of Days. Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival Season occurs during months. We cant blame the author for their ignorance, but this list is FAIL. Trinidad Carnival should be and will always be number 1!

  18. Cervantino in Guanajuato, Mexico in October is pretty fun… Also, the summer solstice at the Chichen Itza mayan pyramids is an amazing event…

  19. How about Coachella?

  20. How is Holi (the Festival of Colors) not on here?! Seriously. One of the best festivals I have EVER been to. (Spanish Fork, Utah)

    • Jacqueline Boss

      Holi is number 6 on the list- it takes place in India. Perhaps there is a spin-off version in Utah but that is certainly not where the festival originated.

  21. You should include Tomorrowland in this! Here’s the video from last years

    It is amazing!!

  22. I’m from NY and traveled to several festivals around the world, there is only I went back to three times, Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. That didn’t make this list. You guys need to make your way down there. Now they know how to party!