Where: New Orleans
When it takes place: On Shrove Tuesday
Although Mardi Gras technically refers to Shrove Tuesday, it actually officially begins on Epiphany (a Christian holiday celebrated on January 6, also known as the Twelfth Day of Christmas).
In some countries, Brazil being one, the period between Epiphany and Shrove Tuesday is known as carnival.
These celebrations stop at midnight on Shrove Tuesday, when 40 days of lent begins.
It received its name Mardi Gras, after French-Canadian explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’lberville camped 60 miles downriver from the future site of New Orleans, knowing that in France it was Shrove Tuesday at that time, he named the spot Point du Mardi Gras and held a small gala. Years later, French soldiers and settlers feasted and wore masks as a part of the Mardi Gras festivities.
La Tomatina Festival
When it takes place: every year on the last Wednesday in August
A lot of theories behind the explanation of La Tomatina Festival, the most popular/believable can be dated back to 1945, when a parade which took place every year in Bunyol. The parade consisted of enormous figures with big heads roaming the streets of Bunyol - this is more famously called Gigantes y Cabezudos. During this particular parade in 1945, a young group of individuals accidentally knocked one of the giants over, once the giant stood up again he began to swing around at everyone near him. The youngsters then retaliated by throwing tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stall at the giant. On the same day the following year, the same young people returned and started to throw tomatoes again, this has since then continued and has grown in size.
Holi Festival of Colours
When it takes place: celebrated on the full moon day which falls in the month of Phalguna (February – March)
The festival consists of people throwing various colours and water on each other, along with this there is loud music and drums also playing to celebrate Holi.
Holi signifies a victory of good over evil.
The history behind Holi stems from an ancient King in India called Hiranyakashipu – a bitter King who wanted revenge for the death of his younger brother who was murdered by Lord Vishnu. In order for Hiranyakashipu to get his revenge, he needed to gain power and was granted a boon after praying for years. Once he was granted this, he began to see himself as a God and forced people to worship him. Hiranyakashipu’s son however did not agree with his father’s values and refused to worship him, which made Hiranyakashipu come up with a plan to murder his son – this however was unsuccessful as the boy recited Lord Vishnu’s name throughout the plan, keeping him safe and it was the assassinator who was instead killed.
The colours are associated with the festival as it is believed that Lord Krishna (the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu) use to celebrate Holi using colours with friends. Lord Krishna and friends would play pranks across the whole village, which ultimately created a community event.
Another reason for Holi is to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring.
Dia De Los Muertos
When it takes place: October 31st
Dia De Los Muertos which also stands for “Day of the Dead” is a holiday which is originally from Mexico. The holiday lasts for two days and is a time to remember deceased loved ones. Dia De Los Meurtos has become a national holiday in Mexico, but has also now been adopted by Guatemala, Brazil, Spain and Mexican-American communities in the USA.
Although it’s said the holiday lasts for two days, it actually spreads across three days. Day 1 (October 31st) is thought to be the day that souls of young children arise at midnight. Day 2 (Nov 1st) is referred to the day of innocents or the day of the little angels – celebrating the lives of children who have passed away. Day 3 (Nov 2nd) is a day to celebrate the lives of adults who have died.
This holiday is not Halloween – the two are easily confused, but this holiday has a lot of meaning and history behind it.
Burning Man Festival
Where: Black Rock Desert of Nevada
When it takes place: Around the very end of August to the first week of September.
The celebration of Burning Man’s annual fire ceremony started in 1986 and was created by Larry Harvey and Jerry James, it was then continued for another four years after this. The ceremony took place at Baker Beach in San Francisco. The location of the ceremony changed however, after the police interceded to prevent the fire from getting bigger. The moving of location evolved the event, changing its date and meaning behind it.
The Burning Man festival gives the community the chance to explore various forms of artistic self-expression. Participation is greatly appreciated at this festival – selfless giving of a person’s talents for others to enjoy.
Where: Munich, Germany
When it takes place: Third weekend in September and ends the first Sunday of October
This is a 16 day party festival which consists of pork sausages, spit-roast chicken and a lot of beer (around 1.5 million gallons of beer).
The tradition started in 1810 to celebrate Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hidburghausen getting married on 12th October of that year. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the celebrations.
The festival has evolved over the years, from small beer stands to huge beer tent. The additions of carousel and swings were also made in 1818 – the fairground has become even bigger than ever today.
The festival is celebrated in September as the celebrations over the years have been prolonged due to its worldwide popularity. The festival has around 6 million visitors from all over the globe attending.
Montreal Jazz Festival
Where: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
When it takes place: Summer months, usually the end of June and beginning of July
Every year features around 3,000 artists from different countries, more than 650 concerts and around 2.5 million visitors attend the festival.
A major part of the city’s downtown core is closed to traffic for a total of 10 days.
The shows are held across a wide variety of venues, from small scale jazz clubs to larger concert halls and outdoor venues.
The festival was first thought up in 1977 when after Alain Simard teamed up with André Ménard and Denys McCann to form an agency with the idea of creating a summer festival that would bring a large number of musical artists together at the same time.
Where: Rio Brazil
When it takes place: In February (before lent each year)
Considered the biggest carnival in the world, with two million people on the streets each day.
The carnival is filled with revellers, floats, decorations, parades, samba dancers, masses of food and drink. It is a pulsating and energetic event.
It’s Rio’s favourite holiday celebration.
This festival originally was a Greek Spring festival to honour the god of wine (Dionysus) – this was also adopted by the Romans, on this day master and slaves would exchange their clothes amidst a day full of drunken partying.
Carnevale di Venezia
Where: Venice, Italy
When it takes place: starts two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday
This is an annual carnival which takes place during the ten days leading up to Shrove Tuesday. The carnival is a pre-lent festival and actually means farewell to meat.
The carnival originates back to the 11th century – back then the celebrations lasted for over two months but fell into decline during the 18th century. It was brought back in 1979 with success – today it is very popular and an excuse to put a mask and costume together and parade around the City, enjoy the live music in the main squares of the City.
Where: Austin Texas
When it takes place: March
Its name takes after a small group of people in Austin, Texas called South By Southwest (SXSW). After a long discussion between its group members, in 1989, about the future of entertainment and media. The fundamental shared opinion was that the local creative and music communities were as talented as anybody else in the world; however they lacked a lot of exposure outside of Austin.
They came to the conclusion that music would be the uniting factor – people across the globe would come together through the help of music.
The first event was held in March 1987, where there were a shocking 700 registrants.
Today the festival offers more than music, now keynote performances, internet, film and digital communities all can participate and display work and perform.
It still remains a tool for creative people to develop their careers by bringing together people from around the globe to meet, learn and share ideas.
When it takes place: First week of September
An annual art and music festival held in Portmeirion, Wales. The festival is a quieter and more intimate festival than many others and presents a wide range of music genres, including rock and roll, folk, house, techno and dance.
Boutique music and arts festival.
The festival is designed to inspire both the artists and the others who visit the festival.
Gives visitors a chance to put reality on hold for a few days, enjoy the art and take in the stunning scenery – Italiante costal village of Portmeirion, surrounded by sub-tropical vegetation.