The best way to know about the cultural and traditional values of the people of a country is to take part in their local festivals. If you are the type of person who travels to have an experience of some of these fantastic events that happen around the globe, then this article is going to help you shortlist the best backpacking festivals that take place every year. Have a look and choose for yourself which is the one worth attending!
1. Albuquerque International Balloon Festival
The Albuquerque Balloon Festival is the world’s largest balloon festival that takes place in New Mexico during the first two weeks of October. It started in 1972 from a small get together and has now gained international recognition. The festival lasts for nine days. The sky gets filled with a lot of colorful balloons and that indeed is a delightful sight for the viewers. The visitors can also ride a hot air balloon and get a stunning view of the sky. This amazing festival attracts tourists from all over the world and the local business earns a lot during it.
The festival has featured a large number of events over the course of time like the dawn patrol, special shape rodeo, mass ascensions, fiesta challenge, and balloon glow, etc. Dawn patrol means taking off before dawn and the balloons are equipped with light position systems which makes them glow at night. These balloons fly all day till the time the landing sites are visible. Similarly, balloon glow is an event in which the propane burners are used to light up the balloons. But these balloons don’t fly and stay static. In fiesta challenge, a target is fixed and the balloonists try to hit that target while flying. It is indeed a great festival to visit.
2. Songkran Water Festival
The Songkran water festival is the world’s biggest water festival that takes place in Thailand. It starts on the 13th of April every year and lasts for three days. The festival is celebrated to welcome the Thai New Year. The hottest month of Thailand has been chosen for the festival so that people won’t mind getting wet. For the local people, the festival is significant for the religious rituals involved in it. The idea of sprinkling and throwing water on each other is based on the faith that the water cleanses and purifies the person from the bad actions and thoughts of the previous year and he is now ready to accept the good luck of the coming year. The statues of Buddha are washed with scented water. The residents also clean their houses. Water is poured on the hands of the elders respectfully to honor them.
There are long parades in which the statues are carried through the gate. After the official procession is over, people just gear up in the streets to begin the fun war using water guns and bottles. Chiang Mai is the most important city to be in for the celebrations. There are huge gatherings of masses, having buckets and containers filled with water and ice to be thrown on each other. If you ever plan to visit Thailand, don’t miss the chance to attend the Songkran water festival!
3. Glastonbury Festival
For all the music lovers out there, the Glastonbury festival is a must-go event. This festival is held near Pilton, Somerset, England. It started in the year 1970 and now takes place every year excluding the fallow year. The fallow year comes after every five years, in which Glastonbury festival isn’t celebrated to give rest to the organizers, the local residents, and the land. It happens mostly in the last week of June starting from the 26th and ending on the 30th. The celebrations last for five days. Besides contemporary music, it also features other genres of arts and entertainment like comedy, theatre, dance, and circus, etc. It is one of the world’s biggest music festivals that is conducted outdoors.
The event features the top music artists and pop stars in the headlines, and many others also get a chance to showcase their talent on smaller platforms. Many films and albums have been made on it. In 1996, a documentary film about the festival was released, naming “Glastonbury the Movie”. The media and newspaper also show great interest in the event and it receives extensive coverage. In order to accommodate visitors, different camping sites are available. Among these, some are quieter and some are comparatively dynamic. Some camping sites have been dedicated specifically to the family. For backpackers who love music a lot, this music festival is a gem.
Holi in simple words is a festival of colors. This event is celebrated by the Hindus in India and wherever they live. It is a religious festival as it celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Holi is also a symbol of love, happiness, and joy. It takes place in the first week of March and lasts for one night and one day. The day event is called “Holi” while the night event prior to it is called “Holika Dahan”.
On the night of this exotic festival, the Hindus carry out the religious practices related to the event in front of a bonfire. These practices are done for cleansing the souls and forgiveness of the wrongdoings done in the past. On the contrary, the day event “Holi” is purely a time of celebration. The people mostly wear white and throw colors on each other. Water balloons and water guns are also used to take fun and excitement to the next level. Also, there is music, dance, food, and drinks. So, if you are looking for fun, music, party, colors, then this is the festival to visit.
5. Yi Peng Festival: The Lantern Festival
Every year, thousands of paper lanterns are launched into the air and when a number of them are sparkling in the sky, it makes the sight worth seeing. The act of those candle-lit lanterns going up in the sky is a symbol of all the evil and misfortune of the past year going away. It usually falls in the mid of November, on the full moon of the 12th month of the lunar calendar of Thailand. The Siamese (people of Thailand) believe that this is the perfect time to ask for good luck and you will definitely get your prayer answered in the coming year.
The lanterns are released in the ping river also. The celebrations last for almost a week. Apart from the lantern releasing event, the festival also conducts music and dance shows, fireworks and parade sessions. The whole Chiang Mai city is decorated. People decorate their houses and public places as well with colorful flags and lanterns. It is indeed a magical and soulful experience to have.
6. La Tomatina
La Tomatina is an amazing Spanish food fight festival takes place in a small town in Spain called Bunol. It is held on the last Wednesday of August. Over-ripe tomatoes in huge quantities are thrown in the streets. People from all over the world come to take part in this huge “Tomato Fight”. It started in 1944 when two men while recording a protest threw tomatoes on each other, which took the form of a fun festival later on. While some people enjoy this fun game, others might think of it to be too messy to indulge yourself in.
The fight usually keeps going for an hour or so. Then the fire truck comes and sprays down all the trash. The visitors can also clean themselves with the water from the Bunol River. The fun fight ends but the party doesn’t. Go for this exotic festival if you can handle this much of tomato pulp all over.
7. Harbin Ice Festival
Harbin Ice Festival is another great Chinese festival that takes place in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China. The Chinese people celebrate the winter season in this festival. The festival officially starts on the 5th of January and lasts for almost a month. Although it is chilling cold, yet tourists from all over the world turn to Harbin to see that unusual artwork on the ice. The intricate and detailed designs of the ice sculptures are what attract the people most. Besides featuring the giant sculptures and the colorful ice buildings, there are many snow sports that you can enjoy like alpine skiing and skating, etc. The ice lantern exhibition there is something you would not want to miss.
7. St. Patrick’s Day
Saint Patrick’s Day or Feast of Saint Patrick is celebrated in Ireland and among the Christian community all over the world. On this day, the people are dressed in green clothes and eat food that is colored green. It is a cultural and religious festival that is celebrated in the remembrance of a patron saint, St Patrick. There are huge street parades and people throw big parties in pubs.
All the above-mentioned festivals are some of the worth seeing festivals around the world. Some of these religious and have spiritual impacts while others are just for fun. But one thing that each brings for sure is a great experience. So, choose any of the above for your next backpacking trip and make it memorable!