Traditional Festivals

Photograph: San Fermin

Traditional Festivals

Narrow the Traditional Festivals selection below using the intiutive search box to the right. It works a treat. Bon voyage!

Abu Simbel Festival of the Sun

Abu Simbel Festival of the Sun

Ramesses the Great, the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt constructed his temple at Abu Simbel so that the internal chamber would be lit up by the rays of the sun twice each year. Once, on or about February 22nd to mark the anniversary of his ascension to the throne and then again on his birthday, on or about October 22nd. Annually on those dates, thousands gather to observe the stream of light gradually illuminating the statuettes of Ramses, Ra and Amun in Abu Simbel's central chamber during the Abu Simbel Festival of the Sun.

More Abu Simbel Festival of the Sun info...

Africa Egypt Abu Simbel Historical Festivals Traditional Festivals February
Andong Mask Dance Festival

Andong Mask Dance Festival

For many locals, South Korea's, Andong City is believed to be the cradle of Korean civilisation, a window into 5,000 years of Korean culture. Each October at Andong's, Hahoe Folklore Village, the Andong Mask Dance Festival takes centre stage. It's a highly ritualistic, cultural showcase that continues Korea's rich mask dance tradition. A tradition in which dance troupes perform mask dance dramas that historically provided social commentaries.

More Andong Mask Dance Festival info...

Asia South Korea Andong Traditional Festivals Cultural Festivals September
April Fair

April Fair

What began in 1847 as a regional cattle market and later became a popular revolt against foreign culture and habit, has now grown into southern Spain's most anticipated (and attended) cultural event. April Fair or Abril Feria is an Andalusian institution, a round-the-clock extravaganza held annually in the city of Seville where up to a million revellers on any given night gather in a celebration of Spanish culture. Men dressed in traditional 'traje corto' (short jacket, tight trousers and boots) and women in 'faralaes' or 'trajes de flamenca' (flamenco-style dresses) gather in 'casetas' (marquees) to drink sherry, manzanilla or rebujito, eat tapas and dance flamenco until dawn.

More April Fair info...

Europe Spain Seville Traditional Festivals Cultural Festivals April
Arugungu Fishing Festival

Arugungu Fishing Festival

If by chance you're ever in Nigeria's Arugungu neck of the woods around February or March make sure you pay the Arugungu Fishing Festival a visit. What began as a tribute to the late Sultan Dan Mu'azu upon his visit in 1934 has not only endured but also grown to become the region's largest tourist attraction. Each year a one-mile stretch of the Arugungu (pronounced ar-goon-goo) River is protected from fishing so as to ensure a plenteous bounty for this major local festival. For 45 minutes thousands of local men and boys armed only with hand net and gourd are let loose on the local aquatic population. They are joined by drummers in canoes and men rattling huge seed-filled gourds to drive the fish to shallow waters. Nile Perch weighing over 60 kilogram have been taken from the river during the festival with the larger catches being offered to the local Emirs who organise the festivities. Other events on the day include canoe races, diving competitions, wild duck hunting, swimming and wrestling contests, local arts and crafts displays and traditional music and entertainment.

More Arugungu Fishing Festival info...

Africa Nigeria Arugungu Fishing Tournaments Traditional Festivals February
Baby Cry Sumo Competition

Baby Cry Sumo Competition

During Baby-cry Sumo — or Konaki Sumo in the local tongue — sumo wrestlers face off armed with cutely-dressed infants in a contest to see which baby cries first. Shaken ever so slightly by their sumo captives and teased by priests, it's little wonder the contest ends in tears. Why you ask? A Japanese proverb has it that babies that cry grow faster. And the louder babies howl, the more blessed they are.

More Baby Cry Sumo Competition info...

Asia Japan Tokyo Bizarre Festivals Traditional Festivals April
Balls of Fire

Balls of Fire

Great balls of fire! Every August 31st in the El Salvador city of Nejapa, youths with painted faces take to the street to hurl fireballs at each other in a scene that the casual passer-by could be forgiven for interpreting as the early stages of a riot. But those in the know will tell you the mayhem at hand is a ritual, Balls of Fire (or Bolas de Fuego in local lingo), in honour of a violent volcanic eruption that took place in 1917. Personally I'd prefer to take part in an ironic water fight, but that's just me.

More Balls of Fire info...

Central America El Salvador Nejapa Bizarre Festivals Traditional Festivals August
Barthelmarkt

Barthelmarkt

Don the dirndl or pop on the leather shorts and make your way to Manching near Ingolstadt for four days of beer-based fun. Though first made mention of in 1354, the roots of Barthelmarkt can be traced back to the 1st century BC when a cattle market was established in the district by the Romans. Today Barthelmarkt is a little more about beer than bovines, although there's still horse racing on the Saturday and a cattle market on the Monday. Just like it's Oktoberfest cousin, there's the ubiquitous behemoth beer tents and plenty of German oompah music, pretzels and general Bavarian revelry.

More Barthelmarkt info...

Europe Germany Manching Beer Festivals Traditional Festivals August
Boi Bumba Folklore Festival

Boi Bumba Folklore Festival

The Bombadromo on the Brazilian Isle of Parintins comes to life in late June for three nights as the two corrals of Garantido and Caprichoso serve up a Carnivalesque spectacular of sight and sound that really needs to be seen to be believed. At its heart, Boi Bumba is a local legend, a folk tale told through an elaborate stage show featuring humungous parade floats, giant puppets and abundantly-feathered performers. It's a three day juggernaut of colour in the jungle backed by an incessant drum beat. Parintins is an island in the sticky center of the Amazon and getting there is a multi-day task usually involving buses and boats but for those intrepid revellers who make the trek the Boi Bumba experience will live on as lifetime memories.

More Boi Bumba Folklore Festival info...

South America Brazil Parintins Traditional Festivals Cultural Festivals June
Bor Sang Umbrella Festival

Bor Sang Umbrella Festival

For three days in mid-January, the little lanes of Bor Sang Village bloom in a riot of color as people hang umbrellas decorated in every conceivable style from the eaves of their wooden houses. Vivid paintings of Thai flowers and birds on white silk vie for attention with brightly colored paper parasols, attracting people from miles around to help choose the year's best designs. Browse stall after stall of local handicrafts for intricate wood-carvings and silverware, and be sure to stick around for the beauty parade at the festival's conclusion.

More Bor Sang Umbrella Festival info...

Asia Thailand Chiang Mai Traditional Festivals January
Burn's Night

Burn's Night

January 25 is the (assumed) birthday of Caledonia's bard, Robert Burns. Burns, Scotland's most revered poet penned for the people many poetic treats including Tam O'Shanter, My Luve's like a Red, Red Rose, and To a Haggis. To Scots the world over Burn's Night is an institution; a chance to gather for tradtional fare — haggis, neeps and tatties — a little poetry and usually a wee dram of fine Scotch or three in honour of the champion of the common people.

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Europe Scotland Traditional Festivals Historical Festivals January
Chios Rocket War

Chios Rocket War

Churches have always been considered to be safe havens — a place where you could escape the madness outside. But come Easter in Vrontados on the Greek island of Chios, it's two local churches — the parishes of St. Mark's and Panaghia Ereithiani — at the centre of the madness. In fact, for one night a year they become targets for rocket attack during the annual Chios Rocket War or Rouketopolemos. Across a small ravine parishioners fire a volley of tens of thousands of home made rockets at each other in the hope of striking the opposing church's bell. Apparently the festivities date back to the Ottoman era. According to Vrontados lore the Rouketopolemos was earlier performed with real cannons, until the authorities of the day prohibited their use in 1889. I bet there weren't as many tourists then.

More Chios Rocket War info...

Europe Greece Vrontados, Chios Bizarre Festivals Traditional Festivals April
Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

As Scottish as Sean Connery hoeing into a haggis or Robert the Bruce sipping a wee dram, it's Edinburgh's famous Military Tattoo, held annually each August. Get along and enjoy bagpipes by the bucket-full, the rattle of stick on snare and hundreds of large, hairy men in kilts marching in formation.

More Edinburgh Military Tattoo info...

Europe Scotland Edinburgh Celtic Festivals Traditional Festivals Cultural Festivals August
Estonia Song and Dance Celebration (Laulupidu)

Estonia Song and Dance Celebration (Laulupidu)

If you like your Baltic folk music, large, loud and part of a crowd (and I do mean a crowd) then it don't get much bigger than Estonia's Laulupidu — the Estonia Song and Dance Celebration. The 2004 event included 34,000 performers who strutted their stuff in front of a crowd of 200,000 spectators. Told you it was big! Local Estonians and an increasing number of outsiders make the trip to Tallinn for this folk extravaganza which is held only once each four to five years.

More Estonia Song and Dance Celebration (Laulupidu) info...

Europe Estonia Tallinn Traditional Festivals Folk and Folk Music Festivals July
Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

More than a quarter of million visitors flock to Morocco's intellectual capital, Fes for the country's most culturally-significant event, the Festival of World Sacred Music. The festival places world-renowned local and international sacred music acts in historic and beautiful UNESCO designated World Heritage Sites to produce an event without peer in the region. Visitors are taken on a whirlwind cultural journey of traditional and sacred folk music. A typical programme sample may feature an Armenian men's choir followed up by a New Orleans brass band then a little Balinese kecak. The Fes Forum Discussions usually centre on an annual theme, are presented by respected names in the industry and tackle key issues of the day. Sufi nights #-- late night sessions with some of the best of Morocco's mystical Sufi music ensembles, are an annual favourite and a huge festival draw.

More Fes Festival of World Sacred Music info...

Africa Morocco Fez World Music Festivals Traditional Festivals June
Festa Major de Gracia

Festa Major de Gracia

Barcelona's Gracia district has a bit of a bohemian reputation. Things hang a little looser in Gracia. It has vibrant squares, a bustling bar and cafe scene and a thriving art scene — perhaps part-inspired by Gaudi's Parc Guell, which also calls the barrio home. And each August it has Festa Major. During la festa, Gracia really turns on it's eclectic charm as individual streets vie for the coveted best decorated street award. Festa Major is big news in Barcelona and competition to outdo the neighbouring street is fierce. Grab a glass of Cava and get lost amidst the colourful Gaudi inspired installations and the two story high paper-mache models. Be entertained by the myriad street performers or drawn by the competing rhythms of a hundred street musicians. In the squares keep an eye up for the spectacular castelleres, the Catalan human towers, that can reach staggering heights. Pack light and get ready to party; 1.5 million annual revellers and almost 200 years of tradition says you haven't been to a street party quite like Festa Major.

More Festa Major de Gracia info...

Europe Spain Barcelona Street Parties Traditional Festivals August
Festes de la Merce

Festes de la Merce

During Festes de la Merce, the Catalan capital says goodbye to summer with a bang; literally. For four days nearing the shank of September, Barcelona puts on a street party in honour of her co-patron saint, the Virgin of Mercy. La Merce features free concerts and literally hundreds of events that filter through her streets and out onto her plazas. There are daily parades of synchronised dancing giants. There's the correfoc, literally translated as the 'fire run', a Catalan tradition where participants of questionable sanity dash through a maelstrom of pyrotechnics being chased by firecracker-breathing devils and other unworldly beasts. On a slightly disturbing note, there's even a correfoc for the kiddies, where, you'll be glad to hear, the pyrotechnics are ratcheted down a notch. There's local Catalan folk dancing and the ever-popular castelleres, the human castles which reach jaw-dropping heights.

More Festes de la Merce info...

Europe Spain Barcelona Street Parties Traditional Festivals September
Festival of the Virgin of Carmen

Festival of the Virgin of Carmen

Join the heaving throngs of devotees at the Festival of the Virgin of Carmen (the Patron Saint of Fisherman), held annually all over Spain and parts of Central and Southern America. At Puerto de la Cruz on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife, thousands pay witness to the statue of the Virgin of Carmen along with a likeness of Saint Telmo as they make their journey from the local chapel to the fishing harbour. A fanfare announces their arrival at the waterfront from where they are taken to a decorated boat and sailed along the coast.

More Festival of the Virgin of Carmen info...

Europe Spain Tenerife Religious Events Traditional Festivals July
Fetes de Bayonne

Fetes de Bayonne

More than a million revellers descend upon the Basque city of Bayonne for five days each August for the eagerly awaited, Fêtes de Bayonne. With a history dating back to 1932, when a handful of locals tried to emulate a San Fermin style celebration in their own Basque neck of the woods, the Fêtes de Bayonne has grown to become one of Europe's biggest bashes. Like San Fermin, there's a strong bovine element to the celebrations including two official bullfights but there's so much more to the fêtes than that. The streets, squares, bars and bodegas become a sea of traditional red and white as for five days and nights a party of epic proportions pervades all public spaces. The renowned Basque hospitality and party spirit is evident in events ranging from tamborradas to the Bell Pepper Omelette World Championship. There's a strong children's programme in place including the Encierro Txiki (a bull run with bulls on wheels) and fireworks light the sky every evening. Stock up on sleep, pack light and prepare to party Basque style.

More Fetes de Bayonne info...

Europe France Bayonne Traditional Festivals Street Parades August
Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha de Tacuarembo

Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha de Tacuarembo

Take a trip back in time to a good ol' fashioned cowboy festival or fiesta gaucha as they're known locally in South America. El Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha in Tacuarembo, Uruguay attracts thousands to enjoy five days of equestrian events — including dressage (in the gaucho style), bareback rodeos, lassoing events and fully-costumed parades — as well as some of the best food the country has to offer. Yeehaa!

More Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha de Tacuarembo info...

South America Uruguay Tacuarembo Rodeos Traditional Festivals March
Fiesta de la Virgen de Urqupinia

Fiesta de la Virgen de Urqupinia

If you like your festivals colourful, off the beaten track and with a pan-pipe back beat, then Bolivia's Fiesta de la Virgen de Urqupinia may well appeal. Each August since the 18th century, thousands have congregated in the village of Quillacollo for three days to perform vibrant rituals and acts of faith that display a unique combination of their Indian-Pagan and Christian beliefs.

More Fiesta de la Virgen de Urqupinia info...

South America Bolivia Quillacollo Religious Events Traditional Festivals August
Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day has been celebrated each and every 2nd February since 1886 when the one, the only Punxsutawney Phil leaves the snug sanctuary of his burrow — at the intriguingly named Gobbler's Knob — to form his weather prediction for the remainder of winter. According to local legend, if Phil spies his shadow, the folk of Punxsutawney are in for six more weeks of winter. If there ain't no shadow, then it's an early spring. Phil's success rate? 100% of course! Nothing less is expected from a groundhog that is reputedly over 120 years old. Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from supping the "elixir of life" a secret recipe he imbibes every summer at the Groundhog Picnic that miraculously adds seven years to his life.

More Groundhog Day info...

North America United States Pennsylvania Punxsutawney, PA Family Festivals Traditional Festivals February
Guy Fawkes Night

Guy Fawkes Night

The Brits love a liberal lashing of irony, and it's with that in mind that every 5th of November they go to great lengths to burn things to the ground and blast things into the stratosphere. Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night has been celebrated in the UK since that near fateful day in 1605 when a number of sneaky Roman Catholic conspirators (including Guy Fawkes) attempted to blow to smithereens the Houses of Parliament in London, England in a scenario now known as the Gunpowder plot. As history spells it out, the plot was foiled, Parliament was saved and to the present day Brits spend the anniversary of the event burning effigies (otherwise known as guys in reference to our Mr. Fawkes) and setting off fireworks in a celebration of the fact that nothing was burnt or blown up all those years ago. Strange!

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Europe England London Historical Festivals Traditional Festivals November
Hogmanay

Hogmanay

The Scots have always been a highly hospitable bunch proud of their tradition. And for the brave, what better way to see it in action than during Hogmanay — Europe's finest celebration of the new year. Enjoy a wee dram in a Royal Mile pub then stomp up a hill with thousands of others, torches ablaze. Follow it up the next night along with hundreds of thousands of other revellers on the streets of Edinburgh to some huge headline acts and the splendor of Edinburgh Castle as a backdrop. Many events over the three days of Hogmanay are ticketed, so get in early to avoid disappointment.

More Hogmanay info...

Europe Scotland Edinburgh New Year Events Traditional Festivals December
Hounen Matsuri

Hounen Matsuri

You can never find a giant 12 foot phallus when you need one but then when you don't... Join the fun at the Tagata Shrine in Komaki, Japan each 15 March for the Hounen Matsuri where hundreds gather to parade such a phallus through the streets in a bizarre male fertility rite. Mix in a bunch of women wielding smaller two foot versions of the main attraction and a tempting range of phallic shaped snacks and and you got yourself one interesting anthropological study at the very least. Food for thought that!

More Hounen Matsuri info...

Asia Japan Komaki Bizarre Festivals Traditional Festivals Adults Only Festivals March
Ikari

Ikari

Before the Balkans War lay to ruin the mighty Stari Most that magnificently spanned the Neretvan River, Mostar played host to Ikari — the world's oldest diving competition. Competition in the Ikari had taken place for 438 consecutive years prior to the war. 2004 saw the beginning of a new chapter in this age-old tradition — a new chapter with a new bridge. Bridge diving in Mostar is an age-old tradition; the men who participate are revered as local heroes, while the winner of the Ikari adopts legendary status. The jump itself is 21 metres. Up to seventy participants from Mostar, other regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighbouring countries are cheered on by up to 30,000 spectators who take up every conceivable vantage.

More Ikari info...

Europe Bosnia and Herzegovina Mostar Traditional Festivals Sporting Events July
India Pakistan Border Closing Ceremony

India Pakistan Border Closing Ceremony

If you find yourself crossing the border at Wagah — between India's Amritsar and Pakistan's Lahore — park up and hang out for the over-the-top border closing ceremony held daily at about sunset. These neighbours and part-time combatants take national rivalry to a whole new level in a display that's three parts theatre to two parts ceremony. Prepare to marvel at the Monty Python-esque marching of the border guards, ooh at their fanciful headwear and ahh as the gate slams shut and the flags come down amidst the type of hysteria usually reserved for boy bands.

More India Pakistan Border Closing Ceremony info...

Asia India Wagah National Festivals Traditional Festivals Year Round
Jerez Grape Harvest Festival

Jerez Grape Harvest Festival

Sip sherry at old tavernas and experience the passion of flamenco during this 500 year old celebration of Jerez's world-famous tipple. The Jerez Grape Harvest Festival programme kicks off with a grand procession on the Friday in which the Queen of the Vintage occupies the seat of honour and is flanked by Jerez maidens dressed in white dresses and blue silk scarves (representative of the chalky white soil of the region and the blue skies that give life and body to their vines). The procession ends in the Plaza de Arenal, where the townsfolk pay homage to the queen, local bodegas offer wine and the fiesta begins to really gather pace. Bullfights, purebred Spanish equestrian events, and a fireworks finale add Spanish spice to this full bodied offering.

More Jerez Grape Harvest Festival info...

Europe Spain Jerez de la Frontera Wine Festivals Traditional Festivals September
Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival

Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival

Every summer since 1640 the city of Edirne plays host to an age old Turkish tradition — Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling. Barefoot and stripped to the waist, oiled down and clad only in traditional cowhide shorts (kispet), up to a thousand men and boys gather to compete in 11 divisions for up to three days in a field outside the former capital of the Ottoman Empire. Only one will earn the right to wear the Kirkpinar Golden Belt and carry the title of Chief Pehlivan. A huge honour in Turkish society.

More Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival info...

Europe Turkey Edirne Sporting Events Traditional Festivals June
Las Fallas

Las Fallas

Spain puts its hand up repeatedly when you're compiling a list of the world's largest and most exciting festivals — there's La Tomatina, San Fermin, Abril Feria and Semana Santa and that's just for entree. Without doubt the loudest and most spectacular of Spain's offerings to the cultural calendar is Las Fallas in Valancia, where massive floats are constructed for months proceeding the five-day event, only to be burnt to the ground on La Nit del Foc (the night of fire). Las Fallas is celebrated to commemorate St. Joseph's Day, the Patron Saint of Carpenters — hence the mind-blowingly, massive effigies. To add a bang to the burn, each day mascletà are held in the city's main square, the Plaza Ayuntamiento. Think of the loudest bang you've ever heard, turn it up a notch then multiple it by a thousand, that's mascletà. Valencianos love their Fallas and rightly so. It's a wonderful, spectacular and unique celebration carried off in true Spanish style.

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Europe Spain Valencia Street Parades Traditional Festivals March
Le Van Duyet Tomb Festival

Le Van Duyet Tomb Festival

Vietnam's path to becoming the prosperous emerging nation we know it as today has been a long an arduos one. Centuries before the Vietnam War, Le Van Duyet (a Vietnamese General), helped Nguyen Anh (the future Emperor of Gia Long), quash the Tay Son Rebellion and in the process unify Vietnam and establish the Nguyen Dynasty. The people of Ho Chi Minh mark the life and achievments of Le Van Duyet at the Le Van Duyet Tomb Festival each year beginning on the 30th day of the seventh lunar month and continuing through to the first day of the eighth lunar month. Over the two days of the festival, attendees pray for the continued peace and prosperity of Vietnam, for good weather, a succesful harvest and happiness in general.

More Le Van Duyet Tomb Festival info...

Asia Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Traditional Festivals Historical Festivals September
Moldova National Wine Day

Moldova National Wine Day

The history of Moldovan winemaking is as rich as the soil of the country's Pucari Region. Those lucky enough to be in Chisinau over the first weekend in October can get a taste of that history and tradition at the country's premier wine festival, the National Wine Day. Visitors get to sample a range of vintages from some of Moldova's finest producers as well treat themselves to a little tasty traditional fare. Prepared to be entertained by colourfully dressed folk dancers, musicians and a fireworks finale.

More Moldova National Wine Day info...

Europe Moldova Chisinau Wine Festivals Traditional Festivals October
Mud Slinging Festival

Mud Slinging Festival

Many of Japan's more renowned cultural festivals involve grown men dressed in nothing more than loincloths (fundoshi in the local lingo) doing strange things to each other. In that respect, the Dairokuten-no-Hadaka Matsuri or Mud Slinging Festival does not disappoint. Each February, participants gather in Yotsukaido in the Chiba Prefecture to strip down, get knee deep in filthy frigid water, then wrestle and fling what they find at their feet at each other. Like so many of the world's weirder events, the Dairokuten-no-Hadaka Matsuri is billed as a spiritual ritual carried out to ensure a healthy harvest.

More Mud Slinging Festival info...

Asia Japan Yotsukaido Adults Only Festivals Traditional Festivals Nude Festivals February
Naadam

Naadam

Join thousands of nomadic tribesmen fresh from the Steppes during Mongolia's annual famed competition of manly pursuits, Enin Gurvan Naadam, or simply, Naadam. It's one of the world's oldest most colourful and dramatic sporting events in which competitors race on horseback, compete with bow and arrow and wrestle — a trio of disciplines in which Genghis Khan's army of nomads were expected to excel. Whilst the largest and most commercial celebration of Naadam takes place in the capital, Ulaanbaatar there's a chance to get up and close with competitors and get a real taste of Mongolian nomadic life if you attend a Naadam celebration outside of the capital. Naadam is big on colour, high on culture and the skill, accuracy and power of the athletes will leave you captivated.

More Naadam info...

Asia Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Sporting Events Traditional Festivals July
National Voodoo Day

National Voodoo Day

The Atlantic coast city of Ouidah in Benin plays host to the country's drum fuelled and colourful National Voodoo Day celebrations each January. Followers gather at a beach known as the point of no return, where slaves once departed on ships bound for the Americas. Attendees in colourful local dress dance, drum and pray as animals are sacrified in ceremonies which honour the spiritual forces of natural phenomena such as water, fire, earth and air. The once-banned religion has a strong following in Benin with an estimated 65% of the population believing in Voodoo.

More National Voodoo Day info...

Africa Benin Ouidah Religious Events Traditional Festivals January
Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest, the world's largest and most celebrated beer festival. Never been? Close your eyes and picture part Disneyland, part Bud Brewery. Oktoberfest is to the beer aficionado what Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory is to the sweet-toothed. Rides, beer, roast chicken, beer, pretzels, beer, lederhosen, did I mention beer? Six million litres of the stuff! Set on grounds of over 100 acres, Oktoberfest has consistently attracted in the region of six million visitors year in, year out since 1980. So if you enjoy your sustenance in a shade of amber delivered by a voluptuous Bavarian beauty to an oompha backbeat then Oktoberfest may just be the beer fest for you.

More Oktoberfest info...

Europe Germany Munich Beer Festivals Traditional Festivals September
Palio of Siena

Palio of Siena

Amidst a flurry of medieval pageantry in the ancient Piazza del Campo, Siena's historic, Il Palio is a horse race with a difference and an event not to be missed. Twice each summer (July 2 and August 16) join thousands of partisan locals and adventure-seeking tourists as they witness ten bareback riders — selected by each of the city's ancient districts — set off on a death-defying ninety second dash around the Piazza del Campo. The race is a chaotic, no rules affair where anything goes and the tight sloping, slippery course certainly does nothing to lessen the mayhem. The crowd is as raucous as hell and the atmosphere is electric. Partying continues well into the night especially in the district of the winning jockey.

More Palio of Siena info...

Europe Italy Siena Horse Racing Events Traditional Festivals Sporting Events July
Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair

For five days each year the sleepy, lakeside settlement of Pushkar comes to life in a sea of colour, cattle and camels during the world-renowned, Pushkar Camel Fair. At its heart, the Pushkar Fair is a cattle market and a working bazaar, but to the locals and traders that make their way from across the country to Pushkar for the event, it's also a religious celebration where a dip in the holy waters of Lake Pushkar is a sacred duty. Like many Indian Hindu celebrations, for the visitor it's a colourful crush, an attack on the senses. A cornucopia of wonderful tastes and smells, of jewellery and coloured fabric and the strains of rich Rajasthani folk music. But it's the dromedary that steals the show. Up to 25,000 of them are exchanged annually, making Pushkar the largest camel fair in the world. Be sure to take in the camel competition where the magnificently turned-out beasts parade in front of an eager crowd in one of the sub-continents more bizarre beauty competitions.

More Pushkar Camel Fair info...

Asia India Pushkar Fairs Traditional Festivals November
Regata Storica

Regata Storica

Venice's history is inextricably linked to rowing. Her gondolas and gondoliers are as iconic as Pisa's tower or Rome's colosseum. Come the first Sunday of September you can take in some of that history from the banks of her Grand Canal. Regata Storica is the main event on Venice's annual rowing calendar, which features a number of races based on age and type of craft. The formula one event on the programme — the "Campioni su Gondolini" race — sees two-manned craft take to the canal in an amazing display of strength, stamina and balance. The highlight for many is the spectacular historical water pageant that precedes the race. In a ceremony literally dripping with history and tradition, the Doge, his wife and a number of high ranking Venetian officials parade along the Grand Canal in 16th century-style boats manned by gondoliers in period costume. With Venice as a breathtaking backdrop the pageant is a sight to behold.

More Regata Storica info...

Europe Italy Venice Sporting Events Traditional Festivals September
Return to the Ridings

Return to the Ridings

For centuries the Scottish border towns of Hawick, Jedburgh, Lauder and Selkirk have been keeping a watchful eye on their southern neighbours, the ever-so-meddlesome English. In years past these Common Ridings of the Scottish border were horseback patrols to ensure those southerners knew where their boundary ended and the Scottish frontier began. And whilst todays events are for the most part close re-enactments to those of yesteryear, a greater emphasis has been placed on the civic rituals attached to the ceremony and drinking yourself to oblivion, rather than keeping the vexatious English at bay. So if you enjoy your festivities with more than a touch of historical significance, set to a drum and fife band beat and you think you an handle the traditional curds 'n' cream (rum and milk) before breakfast (and that's just for starters) head for the Scottish border the first weekend in June. Hell, even you English are welcome to take part in these celebrations!

More Return to the Ridings info...

Europe Scotland Hawick Historical Festivals Traditional Festivals May
San Fermin

San Fermin

The event draws party-goers from near and far and although Sanfermines entails so much more to the locals, it's the Encierro — the daily running of the bulls — that the majority of the tourists are on hand to see. For a little over half a mile bull runners — clad in all white with red handkerchiefs tied around their necks — battle the cobbles of Santo Domingo en route to El Plaza del Toros whilst in pursuit are six, infuriated, agitated and totally disorientated toros. Injuries are numerous, since 1924 they've proven fatal for more than a dozen protagonists. For seven days and seven nights there's little let-up as Pamplona parties around the clock.

More San Fermin info...

Europe Spain Pamplona Traditional Festivals Bizarre Festivals July
Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival

Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival

For camel wrestling aficionados there's only one place to be come January; an ancient stadium at Ephesus, near the town of Selcuk, (which is near the city of Izmir) in Turkey's east. Following a ceremony not without pomp, ornately decorated camels are paraded through town to the musical strains of Turkish folk. The following day the wrestling action begins. Amidst a shower of mouth foam, two male camels (bulls) battle it out for the affections of a strategically placed female. It's not half as nasty as it sounds but its probably a lot more tactical than you'd think. Victory is achieved through a combination of leaning, tripping and butting. The winner is decided when a bull retreats, screams or falls or when the camel owner concedes, by throwing a rope into the ring.

More Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival info...

Europe Turkey Izmir Bizarre Festivals Traditional Festivals January
St. Andrews Highland Games

St. Andrews Highland Games

Pop on some plaid and head for St. Andrews for their annual Highland Games held annually on the last Sunday of July. Brimming with tradition, the games feature a full programme of time-honoured Scottish events such as tossing the caber, tug o' war and solo piping. There may be even a little Highland dancing too if you a fancy a jig. Events kick off just after lunch and finish up by five but word on the street has is that festivities often continue well into the eve at some of St. Andrews' finer licensed public houses.

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Europe Scotland St. Andrews Sporting Events Traditional Festivals July
Temple Bar TradFest

Temple Bar TradFest

Fancy the fiddle? Pining for the pipes? If you like your music with an Irish bent, there's only one place to be come January; the Temple Bar area of Dublin for the annual Temple Bar TradFest. The Temple Bar Tradfest is a celebration of traditional Irish music and culture in the heart of the capital. The festival takes place over five music-filled days and nights and features over 200 events. Numerous iconic venues are used to host concerts featuring talented and beloved musicians from Ireland and further afield. A packed programme features tons of free music, street performers, Irish dancers, pipe bands, outdoor markets, film screenings and exhibitions.

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Europe Ireland Dublin Traditional Festivals Folk and Folk Music Festivals January
Tinku Festival

Tinku Festival

Each May thousands of indigenous Bolivian indians descend on the isolated, mountainous city of Macha in the hope of picking a fight. The 600 year old pre-Hispanic Bolivian festival of Tinku sees villager pitted against villager in a toe to toe slug fest that doesn't stop until blood is spilt on the ground. The blood: an offering to the earth goddess — Pachamama — to ensure a good harvest for the coming year. The desired result: the more spilt, the better. Over the years dozens have died, yet the rite continues, albeit today with some limited policing. Nowadays, fighting to the death is a no-no, but not so in the past. For some of the poorest people in South America living off what they can scratch from the land, life is literally a battle.

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South America Bolivia Macha Traditional Festivals Bizarre Festivals May
Up Helly Aa

Up Helly Aa

Like your festivals wind-swept, scorched and dripping with tradition? Then Up Helly Aa may just be the fest for you. For 24 hours on the last Tuesday of January, Lerwick — the capital of the Shetland Islands — puts its party shoes on come rain, hail or shine. There's Vikings galore, torch-lit marching featuring 800 heavily-disguised men, and if the rumours are true, there may even be a little of the local Scotch on offer too. Pack warm but forget the sleeping bag, there'll be no time for napping.

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Europe Scotland Shetland Islands Traditional Festivals Historical Festivals January
Virgin of Suyapa Festival

Virgin of Suyapa Festival

The grandiose Basilica de Suyapa in Tegucigalpa plays host to one of Central America's smallest, yet most adored statues — the Virgin of Supaya, the patron saint of Honduras. Standing at a little over 2 inches tall the Virgin of Supaya is worshipped with a fervour inversely proportional to her diminutive stature. Each February 3rd pilgrims flock to Tegucigalpa to grab a glimpse of the statue and celebrate her name day.

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Central America Honduras Tegucigalpa Religious Events Traditional Festivals February
Whirling Dervishes Festival

Whirling Dervishes Festival

The 13th century Sufi poet, Celaleddin Rumi (Mevlâna) is widely considered one of the world's great mystic philosophers. His religious writings and poetry are highly respected the world over by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. One of Mevlâna's core beliefs was that it was possible to attain union with God through dance. Following his death on 17 December 1273 (known today as his wedding night with Allah), Mevlâna's followers formed the Mevlevi brotherhood — known more widely as the whirling dervishes — with the trance-like whirling dance at the heart of their worship ceremonies. Each December, the ancient city of Konya, in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey draws scores of visitors from around the world to witness the beguiling Whirling Dervishes in action during the annual, Mevlâna Festival.

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Europe Turkey Konya Traditional Festivals Religious Events December

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