The Best Cultural Festivals Around the world

16 October, 2023 / words by Chantal Dhillion

The main goal of a special event, like a festival, is to generate a ‘once in a lifetime’ communal cultural experience, it is “an opportunity for leisure, social or cultural experiences outside of the normal range of choices and beyond an everyday experience” a quote from a Tourism and Hospitality Management Professor Donald Getz.

Immersing yourself within another’s culture gives you the opportunity to learn, here are the best countries to visit to make the most out of a cultural festival:

Carnival (Rio De Janeiro Brazil)

One of the world’s biggest festivals, and is considered to be “The greatest show on earth”. Carnival has an estimated population of 5 million people each year. It’s a colourful explosion full of vibrant and creative costumes, music and dance. There are samba parades, street parties and masquerade balls. Historically the event is a religious celebration, it’s a time to overindulge before the season of lent, when those who celebrate give up things they love for 40 days. The festival is held in either February or March, which coincides with the Brazilian summer. So even more of a reason to dress a little less, join a Blocos (street party) and move what your mamma gave ya!

St Patrick’s Day (Dublin, Ireland)

Celebrated in March, St Patrick’s day observes the death of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday has since evolved and has now become a day to celebrate Irish culture, parades, folk music, dancing, food, drinking. Many indulge in a glass of whiskey, even a Guinness but if neither of those are a bit of you I suggest baby Guinness (cocktail made from coffee liqueur and irish cream.
The festival is best known for the colour of green due to shamrocks being the national symbol.

A story behind the shamrock- In an attempt to turn the Irish to Christianity, St Patrick used the shamrock to explain the 3 leafed clover to explain the holy trinity with each leaf representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three leaves of the shamrock also symbolise faith, hope and love.

Mardi Gras (New Orleans, Louisiana, USA)

The name from French translates to English as fat Tuesday, from the custom of using up all of the left over fats from the kitchen before lent, a last day to over indulge before people choose to fast and give up things they love for 40 days during the period of lent.

The festival is held every year on Tuesday day before Ash Wednesday, it is a cultural spectacle, known as the carnival of the USA. The streets filled with colour, parades, floats, music and food.

Dia De Los Muertos (Mexico)

Also known as Cinco de Mayo, commonly known as Day of the dead in English speaking countries. The best way to find out more about this beautiful holiday is by watching the Pixar film Coco, it is a tear jerker. The reason for the holiday is simply to bring loved ones, family and friends together to celebrate their ancestors who have died in order to help them on their spiritual journey.

Celebrations of the holiday differ between regions but some hold lively parades. The festival begins on the 31st October – 2nd November.

Holi (India)

Holi is an Hindu festival, which is known as ‘The Festival of Colours’, the festival is celebrated at the end of winter usually in the months of February or march and the idea behind the holiday is the victory of good over evil. On the day before Holi spiritual rituals are performed before a bonfire is lit which symbolises cleansing and forgiveness of past debts, the next morning water balloons are filled, with the intention to drench everyone.

Then cover each other in powders in every colour of the rainbow, its both vibrant and dazzling watching colours float in the air amongst everyone dancing, marching bands entertaining in the background, glorious food and drinks


Chantal Dhillion


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