Stunning World Festivals for your Bucket List
Words by Melanie Groves
- Holi Festival
“Festival of colours”
Holi is a spring festival and is also known as the festival of colours. Celebrated every year in February or March, Holi is an ancient Hindu festival that originated as a celebration in honour of Prahlada, who was protected from the flames by Lord Vishnu when he was tricked by his father King Hiranyakashipu. While the myths and legends do vary across the nation, the overall principle remains the same. Holi symbolises the triumph of good over evil and is celebrated by throwing powder bombs, firing water pistols and splashing coloured water while running through the streets.
- Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, also known as the Chinese Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, has more than 4,000 years of history. The festival is one of the most important festivals for Chinese people, and is celebrated through many traditions of symbolic clothing, flowers, lanterns, fireworks and dragons. The New Year’s Eve dinner is celebrated by a big family dinner. On Chinese New Year’s Day, firecrackers and fireworks are very popular, lighting up the skies. Dragon and lion dances are particularly common on the streets of Hong Kong and Macau.
Every year, millions of people head to the sleepy beach town of Boryeong, South Korea for the Boryeong Mud Festival. The festival started as a promotion for the mineral rich mud that was fast becoming an ingredient in beauty products. Fuelled by word of mouth, the festival has since become internationally renowned. You may never get bored; the mud festival has mud slides, mud prison, mud pools and mud skiing, along with live music, acupuncture and a spectacular fireworks display.
The Up Helly Aa festival is a tradition that originated in the 1880’s taking place in Lerwick, Shetland on the last Tuesday of January every year. Up Helly Aa day involves marches and visitations, culminating in a huge torch lit procession. The torch lit procession and galley burning are echoing pagan Norse rituals, and ceremonies that mark the Sun’s return after the winter solstice. The day after Up Helly Aa is a public holiday, so everyone can recover from the wild night before.
- La Tomatina
“World’s Biggest Food Fight”
On the last Wednesday of August each year in the town of Bunol near Valencia in Spain, thousands of people get involved in the “World’s Biggest Food Fight” using more than a hundred metric tonnes of over ripe tomatoes. The iconic festival’s origins are not known, but possible theories include a local food fight, a volley of tomatoes from bystanders at a carnival parade or the aftermath of a transport accident. The festival is in honour of the town’s patron saints: Luis Bertran and the Mare de Deu dels Desemparats. Whether it’s in the tomato fights, sliding down the tomato slides or the enormous water showers that follow, La Tomatina is sure to get you dancing and having fun.