5 Fun Festivals Around the World

Join the party! One of the best ways to get a feel for a destination is to visit while a local celebration is going on. During an annual festival you’ll sample signature dishes, experience traditional music and dance and party with the local people. In honor of Bridal Guide’s 25th anniversary, we’ve rounded up five iconic fests where you’ll be warmly invited to celebrate good times — local style.

 

By: Veronica Mullen
  • Chinese New Year
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    Chinese New Year

    The longest and most important holiday of the Chinese year, this celebration — also called Lunar New Year — takes place on the first day of the first month of the lunisolar calendar, which typically falls at the end of January or in early February. Festivities begin on Chinese New Year’s Eve — traditionally reserved for a family reunion dinner — and continue for up to 15 days of fireworks, feasts and the exchanging of sweets and gifts (always presented in a red envelope). The celebration ends with the magical Lantern Festival, when families stroll the street holding illuminated paper lanterns. In addition to China, many countries with a large Chinese population celebrate this New Year — including Singapore, Macau, the Philippines and even Chinatowns in U.S.A. cities — so customs may vary. In Singapore, street bazaars, outdoor performances and the annual Chingay Parade, with floats and costumes, are hallmarks of the Lunar celebration.

  • Songkran
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    Songkran

    Based on their astrological calendar, Thailand’s annual New Year’s celebration takes place every April 13-15, and is traditionally observed by visiting family, offering food to monks or performing cleansing water rituals on images of Buddha. Because Songkran falls during what’s usually the hottest time of the year, though, the main symbol of the fest is water — namely, revelers spraying each other, and any passersby, with tons of it all day long. Though the festival is celebrated all over the country, it’s particularly lively up north in Chiang Mai, where the party can go on for six days instead of two.

    Photo Credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

  • Junkanoo
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    Junkanoo

    At 2 a.m. every December 26th, central Nassau, Bahamas, comes alive as costumed revelers dance through the streets to the sounds of drums, horns and cowbells, partying and parading until about 8 a.m. And then they do it all over again on January 1. Celebrated in towns across the Bahamas, Junkanoo is similar to Mardi Gras or Carnival, but with West African roots and a Bahamian flair.Participants are separated into themed groups — some as large as 1,000 — and prizes are given out for best music, best costume and best overall presentation. Competition is fierce, with some spending close to a year crafting their intricate wardrobes and choreography. Even if you’re on the sidelines, you'll find the beat of the goatskin drums and brass bands hard to resist.

  • Festival of St. Cecilia
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    Festival of St. Cecilia

    Honoring Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, this lively festival takes place on November 22 in spots across Mexico. The events in Mexico City are definitely the most well known: there, in historic Plaza Garibaldi, colorfully attired mariachi groups from all around the country gather for three days of performances in front of huge crowds. Rides, carnival games and food stalls are set up in one section of the square, and the statue of Saint Cecilia, who watches over the festivities in the center of the plaza, is adorned with flowers.

    Photo Credit: FMPT-DF

  • Mardi Gras
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    Mardi Gras

    Though Fat Tuesday was traditionally just celebrated on the day before Ash Wednesday, when Christian observers would indulge in rich foods before the beginning of Lent, it’s grown into such an iconic event that in many spots around the world the party can stretch for days. You’ll find lively Mardi Gras celebrations everywhere from Quebec to Trinidad, each with its own customs, but undoubtedly the most famous events take place in Rio de Janerio and New Orleans. In Rio — home to the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the world — close to five million people samba through the streets and gather in sambadromes to cheer on the outrageously adorned paraders; while in New Orleans, most of the traditions are traced back to the city’s French roots.

    Photo Credit: Rio Convention and Visitors Bureau