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7 Cultural Festivals You Need to Check Out Around the World

Insider Guides Festivals
by Tim Wenger Sep 13, 2018

If Burning Man and Coachella are not your thing, know that there are world-class festivals that don’t involve skimpy costumes and do more than just blast loud music. Expedia put together these cool graphics to showcase seven cultural celebrations taking place around the globe, each of which is worth traveling to. Far from the typical music festival, each festival highlights the culture and heritage of the country or city playing host — often in a very bright and vibrant manner.

1. Yee Peng and Loy Krathong festivals — Chiang Mai, Thailand

Yet another reason to include the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai on your Southeast Asia itinerary, the Yee Peng and Loy Krathong festivals happen simultaneously each November. Orange lanterns take to the skies while paper lanterns line the lakes and rivers, honoring the goddess of water and illuminating the city.

2. Diwali — India

Taking place each November, Diwali is India’s “Festival of Lights.” Shimmering lanterns appear in cities throughout the country, and kolams, colorful designs made from rice flour and chalk, cover the streets and squares. Fireworks shows light up the skies at night.

3. Hogmanay — Scotland

December may be the best time of year to visit Scotland — at least, if partying in the streets is your thing. Hogmanay is what the Scots call New Year’s Eve and it dates back to the celebration of the Winter Solstice among the Vikings in late December. Live drum ensembles, torchlight processions, fireballs parades, and steak pies ring in the New Year, Scottish style.

4. Lantern Festival — China

This colorful event marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations in early February each year. With over 2,000 years of history behind it, China’s Lantern Festival sends lit paper lanterns into the sky to call for hope in the new year. At ground level, you’ll witness lion dances and the annual exchanging of red envelopes filled with money — a gesture of good luck.

5. Carnevale — Venice, Italy

The annual Carnevale is how Venice celebrates before the privations of Lent. While Rio de Janeiro’s version of the celebration is much more famous, Italy more than holds its own.

6. Mardi Gras — New Orleans, Louisiana

The parade, the beads, and especially the parties have come to define the annual “Fat Tuesday” celebration, which brings over one million people to New Orleans each February. Though based around Tuesday, the party lasts all week — and sees the city swell to about three times its normal size.

7. Holi Phagwa — India

Like the Diwali festival, this March event takes place across India and brings bright colors to the forefront. This Hindu festival, which takes place each spring, celebrates both the triumph of good over evil and the arrival of a new, brighter season. At Holi Phagwa, participants cover each other in colorful paint mixed with powder.

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