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

festivals around the world

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


festivals around the world

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)

festivals around the world
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 

Pamplona, Spain

6th-14th July

festivals around the world

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

festivals around the world
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

festivals around the world

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

festivals around the world
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

festivals around the world
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

Full Moon Party Thailand festivals around the world

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? 



  1. June 15, 2015 / 5:23 pm

    We did Holi a few years back.. definitely an experience but one I’m not really looking forward to doing again any time soon lol. I’d love to see Carnival though.

    • June 16, 2015 / 9:07 am

      Perhaps it’s a good thing that once of twice per lifetime is enough for some of these festivals!

  2. Laura @ Bottled-Air
    June 4, 2015 / 3:43 am

    Holi was such an experience! I hope that we can go again next year. Probably the most fun I’ve ever had! Being in China during Chinese New Year was cool, but after WEEKS of fireworks (that sort of hit our balcony. No open windows for a month, yay) it got a bit too much. Burning man is also on my list. Oh and Tomatina. Actually, it’s all on my list. Great post 🙂

    • June 4, 2015 / 11:17 am

      So awesome you’ve been able to experience several of these! Being unable to open windows for a month is however an unfortunate side-effect!

  3. Kate Jordan
    June 1, 2015 / 8:47 pm

    Oh, this post has given me all the wanderlust for all of these festivals! I am so annoyed at myself that for the past 2 years I haven’t made it to Oktoberfest 🙁 I’ve missed out on something there! I’d love to celebrate Chinese New Year & Holi too.

    • June 1, 2015 / 9:42 pm

      Whaaat…despite living in Germany??! Definitely have missed out. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. OurMiniFamily
    May 29, 2015 / 1:40 am

    These snippets of these worldly festivals just make me want to get on a plane and see somewhere I haven’t before!! Giving me total wanderlust!!

  5. Jaclyn Kent
    May 28, 2015 / 2:19 pm

    Omgsh all of these seem SO fun!

  6. Sirli Maidre
    May 28, 2015 / 12:03 pm

    Nice research…but I was hoping that coachella is mentioned aswell !!!!

    • May 28, 2015 / 12:09 pm

      Coachella would be such an amazing experience, I think a post just on Music Festivals might be required…

  7. Karen @ Dogs Don't Eat Pizza
    May 28, 2015 / 3:33 am

    What a great post! I can’t believe the tomato one – what a mess! (but fun, I bet) Thanks for sharing these! Makes me want to grab my passport and go!

  8. Bohemian Wanderlust
    May 27, 2015 / 7:34 pm

    Wow! So many festivals that I can’t wait to take part in when I travel to all these places. I love learning about other countries traditions, its so fascinating. What a lovely and informative post 🙂 Peace and love, Rianna, Bohemian Wanderlust. xo

    • May 27, 2015 / 8:27 pm

      Thanks Rianna! Yes I’m totally the same – can’t wait to experience them all.

  9. May 26, 2015 / 10:59 am

    I’ve been to 2 full moon parties, a few years apart. It’s a little different from the other festivals listed because it’s just for tourists, usually on their very, very worst behaviour. It’s not a traditional or even socially accepted festival in Thailand. Thai people are present only as bartenders and to sell cheap plastic lights.

    I would love to go to Burning Man one day though.

    • May 27, 2015 / 10:00 am

      You make some very good points and have definitely got me thinking about the impact of tourism on local communities due to contrived events for tourists. On a similar note Bull fighting is something I really disagree with and I suspect tourist numbers flocking to run with the bulls only increases animal cruelty,