Festivals around the world – what, when and where?

Wherever you’re heading in the world, there’s likely a traditional festival to attend if you’re there at the right time. Here are 10 festivals around the world and the details of where they happen.

Chinese New Year


Chinese lunar new year – the first day falls between January 21 and February 20


The Chinese New Year festival is celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar and is also known as the Spring Festival. Celebrations run from Chinese New Year’s Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the 15th day of the first month when the Lantern Festival takes place. The celebrations include dragons, fireworks, lanterns and flowers.


Around the March Full Moon

India and Nepal

Holi, the Festival of Colours, is a Spring festival which starts with a Holika bonfire on the night before the full moon. The following day people throw dry powder and coloured water at each other and everyone is fair game.

Saint Patricks Day

March 17th


The 17th of March, when Saint Patricks day is celebrated is the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

In Ireland celebrations include parades and festivals as well as dressing in green. Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, which has resulted in the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption (which has been carried to celebrations around the world).

The Rio de Janeiro Carnival

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

5 days of celebrations at the beginning of lent (40 days prior to Easter)

The Carnival officially starts on Friday and finishes ends on the day before Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent. The famous and very colourful Winners’ Parade actually happens on the Saturday after the carnival ends.

San Fermin Festival (known for the Running of Bulls)

Pamplona, Spain

6th-14th July

The most famous event  during the annual San Fermin Festival is The Encierro, or the Running of the Bulls, where the bulls are lead through a stretch of the street to the bull ring by runners at 8am from 7 -14 July.

The week-long celebration involves many other traditions and events – you may also find yourself covered in doused with sangria, flour and eggs and the  streets are filled with music and dancing. Over a million people come to participate each year.

Burning Man

Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

Last Monday in August until  the first Monday in September

Burning Man is about self-reliance and community. You are expected to bring everything (food, water, clothes, somewhere to sleep, a bike and something to gift) you will need for that week and you won’t spend money once you’re there and will take your trash with you when you leave.

It takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy, which is set alight on Saturday evening and while it really doesn’t sound like my thing, over 60,000 people attend each year and I’m told you have to do so in order to understand.

La Tomatina

Bunol (near Valencia), Spain

Last Wednesday of August

La Tomatina is a food fight festival where 20,000 people (they started ticketing in recent years) fight in the ‘World’s Biggest Food Fight’ where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets.


Munich, Germany

16 days from late September until the first weekend of October

More than 6 million people from around the world attend Oktoberfest every year and consume large amounts of beer which has been brewed within the Munich city limits from 6 breweries.

Attendees hang out in massive beer tents dressed in Barvarian costume and there are amusement rides and traditional foods. It’s certainly on my bucket list.

Dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead)


October 31st – November 2nd

Celebrated throughout Mexico but particularly in the Central and South regions, and acknowledged around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.

Full Moon Party

Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand

The night of every full moon

Massive crowds (mostly tourists) dress in fluro and attend an all night beach party known for the music, fire skipping ropes and alcohol buckets on an island in Thailand. Definitely another one for my bucket list.


Which of these are on your bucket list? Thanks to Hannah from Mind the Crumbs who suggested a need for this post at #brunchclubnz.

72 hours in Oahu, Hawaii

“Who goes to Hawaii for three days?!” Was a common reaction I got when I mentioned my travel plans. My parents on the other hand flipped assuming I’d been roped into an international drug smuggling ring (which was run by Apple based on the way the conversation played out) without realising…

Given the short timeframe we stayed on Oahu, the largest island where the capital Honolulu is. We opted not to hire a car given the cost and the fact that valet parking at the hotels was so expensive. The local bus was $2 per person per trip and served us fine but did mean we remained on the south coast.

72 hours is by no means an adequate amount of time to spend in Hawaii. But here is how to make the most of it.

Walking around Honolulu

The best way to see a city is to walk around it (though I may moan at the time!). Mike and I walked the length of Waikiki Beach, along Kuhio Beach and through Sans Souci State Recreational Park where we stopped for pancakes at the outdoors Barefoot Beachside Cafe.

We then walked back through town. At every street corner there were pavement tiles where those waiting for pedestrian lights can learn common words from the Hawaiian language  such as man, woman, child and house. The words were similar to the same in Maori.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach is the kind of white, sandy beach you imagine in your perfect holiday. I happily spent hours lying on the sand and swimming. There are stands to hire toys and furniture such as sun loungers, surf and paddle boards and kayaks.

On Friday night at 7:45PM the Hilton set off fireworks which can be seen all over Waikiki.

Diamond Head

Diamond Head is the volcanic cone you’ll see in a lot of photos taken from Waikiki. Armed with water and sunscreen it took us 45 minutes and cost $1 to walk to the top from the bus stop (if you had a car and are reasonably fit it would probably take around 30 minutes from the carpark and costs $5). The 140-odd steps and steep, dark tunnel at the top are the toughest part, the rest zig-zags upwards and is reasonably paved.

Top of Diamond Head, Hawaii

The view of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean from the top is well worth the climb. We purchased a shaved ice (pineapple and watermelon flavours) at the bottom as a reward.

Shaved Ice Hawaii

Ala Moana Centre

Ala Moana is the world’s largest open-air shopping centre with some of my favourite stores to visit when travelling such as Sephora, MAC, Victoria’s Secret, Apple and Macy’s. And it’s all so much cheaper than New Zealand prices!

Next time/ if you have longer than 72 hours

Other than visiting Maui and other Hawaiian Islands I would visit the North Shore and check out the surf pipelines. And I keep hearing about Turtle Bay where you can swim with turtles!

Photos via Mike Rishworth.