Do you want to party the whole year long? Well, get your travel gear ready, make sure you have all the necessary visas and documents and steel yourself for all kinds of food and alcohol. We have festivals in almost every month of the year but you have to be prepared to travel across the globe. Here now is a list of the top 10 biggest festivals in the world.
1. Mardi Gras, New Orleans, United States
The Mardi Gras lasts for a couple of weeks before the beginning of Lent. Mardi Gras itself stands for Fat Tuesday and is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday. Parades are usually held everyday, if the weather permits. A king and a queen head the parade and they go around on floats that are manned by people who throw trinkets to the crowd below. Female members of the crowd are encouraged to show their breasts in order to get a trinket. All inhibitions are let loose during Fat Tuesday, as Ash Wednesday marks the official start of the Christian Lent Season and is marked by abstinence and penance.
2. Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Roughly a million people attend the festivities each year. The festival lasts for four days, with the highlight being the Sambodromo parade. It features neighborhood parades going up against each other to see who will get bragging rights as the best samba school. The yearlong preparation features gaudy floats and nearly naked women. A Masquerade Ball is also held, where participants wear masks, wigs and costumes. Celebrities grace this anonymous affair.
3. Kanamara Matsuri, Kawasaki, Japan
This one is definitely not for the prude. The festival features transvestites carrying a giant pink penis all around town. Onlookers, from the young to the old, are given lollipops that are shaped like a phallus. Radishes are carved up like penis, and even playground staples like the swing are shaped like the male organ. The festival originally came into being in the 17th century with the aim of raising awareness on the dangers of syphilis. It is now staged to raise money for AIDS research.
4. Semana Santa, Guatemala
It is like Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” but in this festival, you can view it live and in full glory. Different statues of Jesus are paraded around town, with most decked with lavish decorations of several meters long. Re-enactment of the sentencing and crucifixion of Jesus are held, complete with a Pontius Pilate and Roman soldiers. The city is covered by black crepe paper and you can just smell the aroma of incense in the air.
5. Il Palio, Italy
This is horse racing extreme. Representatives from the 17 neighborhoods of Siena gather to compete in a bareback horse race that is staged around the Piazza del Campo. The neighborhoods rival one another, with intermarriages between members largely discouraged and even forbidden. The race oftentimes turns violent and you would hear a lot of bone crunching as the riders hit the pavement. It is a good thing that the race usually lasts less than a couple of minutes only. Winners celebrate with a baby bottle of wine, as the victory signals a rebirth for their neighborhood.
6. La Tomatina, Spain
Imagine a food fight that involves the entire town, with 125 thousand kilos of tomato being trucked in so that it could be used as weapons. This is the culmination of the celebration of the town’s patron saint. Tens of thousands attend this festival. Just dive in, hurl tomatoes at everyone and anyone, keep throwing until the street turns red and wait for the signal to end within one hour. This is definitely not for the short-tempered.
7. Burning Man, Nevada, United States
Nobody really knows what it is about, but every August or September, tens of thousands of people gather for one week to barter goods related to the year’s theme. Selling is forbidden in the area during the festival, except for the official sellers of coffee and ice. And when the festival ends, a giant effigy will be set on fire.
8. Diwali, India
It is also known as Deepavaali, or the Festival of Lights. It lasts for five days and the end of the festival expects new beginnings. Lamps and candles light up homes all over the country. Firecrackers are set off to ward off the evil spirits. Sweet delicacies are exchanged even between enemies. Quarrels are settled, grudges are set aside and hatchets are buried during this time of the year. Homes also undergo spring-cleaning and new clothes are bought that will bring in good luck and renewed fortune. The festival enjoins everyone, regardless of religion, belief or creed.
9. Dia de Muertos, Mexico
Officially in the Catholic calendar, November 1 and 2 are All Saints and All Souls Day, respectively. In Mexico, it is celebrated as the Day of the Dead. Family reunions are held in cemeteries so that even those who have already passed away are included. But rather than be a sad occasion, you will actually see a lot of food and alcohol, colorful costumes, parties and mariachi bands performing next to the graves. It is like Halloween, with lollies shaped like skulls and skeletons propped up on stilts adorning the place. But unlike Halloween, this festival does not fear death. Rather, it celebrates the continuation of life even beyond death. It will also remove the fear of crossing over as it recognizes the value of communing beyond this dimension of life.
10. Noche de los Rabanos, Mexico
Two days before Christmas, Mexican artisans gather to compete in a radish-shaping contest. Tableaux are carved out of the massive radishes with the one creating the most beautiful radish sculpture being adjudged as the winner. The festival traces its roots to the 16th century when Spain brought radishes into Mexico. The Spaniards then carved out fancy shapes in order to attract buyers for the crisp, but pungent, roots.