Isn’t it exciting to think that at any given time festivals, celebrations and cultural events are happening in popular honeymoon destinations all over the world? If you manage to hit the right place at the right time, you are not only guaranteed a swinging good time, but you’ll also enjoy an all-access VIP look at how people in other countries live and have fun. So, whether you want to ring in the New Year in Rio or enjoy an outdoor opera in Italy, we’ve got a festival that’s right for you. Here’s the calendar of events.
Sure, you can find a party just about anywhere on New Year’s Eve, but the best bash on earth takes place at Brazil’s famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. (While the city’s raucous Carnival in February may get the most international attention, the New Year’s Eve celebration is a lot more manageable—and visitor friendly.) Just as darkness falls, about two million revelers, dressed in traditional white, gather along the eight-mile stretch of candlelit beach. The candles are offerings to Yemanja, the African goddess of the waters; people also bring gifts of white flowers, perfumes, rice and sweet treats. After a blessing from the local priestess, the offerings are placed in the ocean, and merrymakers wade into the water or jump over seven waves, asking for blessings in the coming year. At the stroke of midnight, a 20-minute fireworks show, which has been called the most spectacular and largest in the world, begins a rocking party that continues until dawn (riodejaneiro-turismo.com).
If Rio is too far to travel, the island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands offers a closer-to-home chance to put a tropical twist on your New Year’s celebration. Known locally as Old Year’s Night, the festivities begin in the afternoon when hundreds of colorful fishing boats anchor in the Great Harbor. Throughout the day, the quaint port area becomes ever more festive, as celebrants arrive via ferries from the nearby islands of Tortola and St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. People gather at Foxy’s Tamarind Bar & Restaurant, the unofficial—and unlikely looking—party central. (The open-air beach bar was originally a temporary lemonade stand.) Here, Foxy Callwood, the barefoot, guitar-strumming proprietor, serves up potent house cocktails, like the Dread Fox and the Friggin’ in de Riggin’ (both fashioned from his homemade rum), as live calypso music keeps you entertained all night long (b-v-i.com/jostvandyke; foxysbar.com).
If watching Dancing With the Stars has inspired you to bust your own move on the ballroom floor, then swing by the Buenos Aires Tango Festival, held every year in late February. The summertime event (the seasons are reversed this far south of the equator) hosts the biggest names in the world of tango in free performances all across the Argentinean capital. No-fee instruction is available, ranging from beginner sessions to master classes. You can also partake in lectures and cultural programs held at local tango studios and dance clubs (festivaldetango.gov.ar).
Pre-Lent feast days are popular in many spots. Chief among them is New Orleans’ Mardi Gras and the masked Carnivale balls in Venice, but none is as eclectic as Carnival in the southeastern Caribbean islands of Trinidad & Tobago. Much like the islands’ population, the celebration here is a meld of West African and French influences, but it also borrows from Middle Eastern, Indian and Chinese customs. (Fun fact: There are nearly as many Hindus as Catholics living in these isles.) Festivities include outdoor food fairs and extravagant parades featuring hundreds of people costumed in elaborate sequined and feathered attire, as well as street performances of calypso and steel drums. It’s also common to see people dancing in the streets to the soulful beat of soca, a calypso-like rhythm invented here (gotrinidadandtobago.com).