Can't-Miss Festivals Around the World



by David Nevins




Traveling isn't just about snapping pictures at iconic landmarks. Yes, you can visit Paris and stop by the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but unless you experience the culture firsthand, you might as well have used a green screen for your photos. One of the best ways to learn about another culture is through its holidays. When you celebrate an important festival in another country or culture, you get to see and try many new things, including dances, clothing, games, food, and more. As you plan your next trip, jot down these five can't-miss festivals around the world that you have to add to your calendar.
1. Songkran
In Thailand, people celebrate the new year in spring with a festival called Songkran. What makes this celebration unique is that Thai New Year's festivities turn into giant water fights. Think of city-wide parties happening throughout the streets where everyone gets soaked. Not only is Thailand a fantastic destination for foodies and art history majors, but it's also got this once-a-year party to end all parties. You can search for Thailand cruises to see this phenomenal destination from a new point of view.
2. Holi
The colorful celebration of Holi has found fans all over the world, but the only way to experience it authentically is to travel to the region of South Asia. While Holi is a Hindu festival that celebrates new beginnings, many different communities across South Asia and the Himalayas join in with the festivities.
The night before Holi, you might find some people performing sacred rites by a bonfire. Then the next day, you can brave the streets while people throw colorful powders and soak each other with water. These parties last until the early evening, so you'll want to get out when the sun is warm and high.
3. Dia de los Muertos
One of the most beautiful festivals you'll ever see in person, Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a festival that happens in Mexican communities across the Americas. Symbolism including marigolds, skulls, and colorful paper flags adorn homes and communal spaces during this holiday that honors the memory of family members and ancestors who have passed on. 
While this is a family-oriented holiday, some cities in Mexico now hold a parade for Dia de los Muertos. If you want to experience a thrill of a lifetime, visit Mexico City on the day of the Dia de los Muertos parade.
4. Carnival
Starting as a Christian holiday that marked the beginning of the Lent season, Carnival now happens in more than 50 countries across the world. Some Carnival parties include parades, amazing costumes, late-night parties, and concerts.
If you're looking for the most epic parties, go to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival. In Rio's giant Sambodromo stadium, you can witness world-class samba dancers strutting their stuff to entertain massive audiences. There's a reason why people refer to Rio's Carnival festivities as "The Greatest Show on Earth." You don't want to miss it.
5. Oktoberfest
If you've ever wondered why you can buy beers called "Oktoberfest" in the fall, it's because Germany really has an iconic beer celebration named exactly that. You'll find many events held in the fall that celebrate beer, and people might try to call these celebrations "Oktoberfest." But nothing can compare to the original party that started in Munich more than 200 years ago. 
A giant beer festival that lasts for more than two weeks, Oktoberfest is a one-of-a-kind European experience that will impress you whether you've been to Europe ten times or you've never been there at all. Attending this festival takes months of planning, so make sure you think about this one ahead of time.
Festivals are a great way to see and experience the best parts of any culture. Before you head off on your next trip, find out what festivals are on the calendar at your destination.