8 of the best festivals and events around the world

24 June 20194 min read

A crowd throwing multicoloured power paints in the air celebrating Holi Festival in India

Glastonbury Festival is back in action after last year's hiatus and to celebrate, we're looking at some of the other big-hitting events that stop a nation. Which one's on your bucket list?

1. La Tomatina - Valencia, Spain

Fancy being lobbed in the face with tomatoes? Essentially an en-masse food fight, La Tomatina is another hugely popular fiesta held on the last Wednesday of August every year in the town of Bunol, near Valencia.

More than one hundred tonnes of tomatoes are thrown in the streets, with the event lasting exactly one hour.

If you do want to venture to this festival, it’s advised that safety goggles and old clothes are worn!

2. Las Fallas - Valencia, Spain

This is another popular fiesta that draws visitors from all four corners of the globe.

A crazy, loud and energetic firework and sculpture festival, incredible displays and pyrotechnical explosions take place in Plaza del Ayuntamiento.

The city is taken over by huge sculptures made out of a variety of materials which are placed around the town for you to admire throughout the week. You can guarantee 24-hour partying with street parties, orchestras, art and open-air concerts.

The festival culminates with the sculptures all being burnt on the final day.

3. The Rio Carnival - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro hosts Brazil’s world-famous carnival, which takes place on the last Saturday before Ash Wednesday.

The streets become thronged with visitors who arrive to see colourful and exotic floats, parades and dancers embellished in ornate costumes as they make their way to the Sambadrome, a stadium built especially for the event. Expect, noise, revelry and lots of fun!

4. The Notting Hill Carnival - London, UK

For a country not accustomed to carnivals and more reserved than its European neighbours, the Notting Hill Carnival offers a refreshing change when spectators can let loose and get into the spirit of carnival.

Try traditional jerk chicken, patties and rum punch as the smells of the carnival tantalise your taste buds, and enjoy listening to a mixture of calypso, soca and steel pan music. Watch elaborate parades and prepare to party!

5. Day of the Dead - Mexico

Celebrated in a number of countries including Mexico, Ecuador and parts of Central America, this event signifies one night when family members believe they can welcome back the spirits of deceased relatives.

Starting at midnight on October 31, the festivities focus on images relating to death. People dressed as skeletons take to the streets in parades, elaborate alters are made and decorated to welcome home the departed, and vigils are held at gravesides.

6. Esala Perahera - Kandy, Sri Lanka

This ten-day festival in the Sri Lankan city of Kandy is held in honour of the tooth relic of Buddha. Ceremonies involving acrobatics, drummers, dancers, flame throwers and whip crackers can be enjoyed, but the highlight is the nightly elephant parades, which can be watched by torchlight.

The animals are decorated in elaborate and glittering costumes and a replica of the tooth relic is paraded in a gold casket on top of the main elephant.

7. Mardi Gras - New Orleans, USA

Mardi Gras is held in a number of countries and traditionally takes place on ‘Fat Tuesday’, the last day of indulgence before the season of Lent begins in the Catholic religion.

However, one of the biggest celebrations is in New Orleans, which showcases a number of colourful parades with different themes, as well as balls and other events.

If you can’t make the actual Mardi Gras, you can take a trip to Mardi Gras World which showcases the elaborate floats from the parade in New Orleans and allows you to learn all about the festival through tours and video screenings.

8. Holi Festival - India

Celebrated in a number of countries, but primarily India, this Hindu Festival of Colour celebrates the beginning of spring.

The festivities begin with a bonfire being lit and the next day the revelry begins with singing, dancing and the throwing of colourful powder and water. A huge colourful paint fight also takes place where participants have fun coating each other in, well, paint!

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