The biggest international festivals
Plan a holiday around a festival and see parts of the world at their very best. For a taster, here are 10 of the world's biggest and best festivals that appeal to both the masses and the fans.
Looking for an excuse to party? Whether music or technology, comics or beer, people around the world love to celebrate the better things in life. Check out 10 of the biggest international festivals that attract people from all corners of the earth.
Sapporo Snow Festival
Of the four countries that host snow festivals - China, Norway, Canada, and Japan - Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival is the most popular. Dedicated to grand sculptures and statues made purely from ice and snow, the annual festival attracts around 2 million peoplei. The festival is week-long in early February, and is held in Odori Park, the main street in Susukino and in Tsudome.
Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts
June, United Kingdom
"Glastonbury", as it's known, is one of Britain's biggest performing arts festivals. It's held yearly in Pilton, rural Somerset, on the weekend of June that falls closest to the Summer solstice.
The festival is most famous for its music line-ups (it's rumoured that the Rolling Stones are playing this yearii) but visitors also get their fill of theatre, circus, cabaret, poetry and children's entertainment. The 135,000 tickets for this year sold out in a record 1 hour 40 minutes - and festivalgoers don't even know the line up yet!iii
August, United Kingdom
The Leeds Festival is a world-renowned music festival held in Leeds, England, at Bramham Park on the weekend of the August Bank Holiday. Major rock, indie, metal and alternative acts play to tens of thousands from the festival's main stage, and lesser known acts - such as dance music, comedy and cabaret performances - are held on the smaller stages.
Burning Man Festival
August, United States of America
The Burning Man Festival is an event that focuses on community, art and radical self-expression. It's a week-long event held on the last Monday of August each year in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, United States. The festival gets its name from the ritual of burning a large wooden effigy.
If endless steins of Bavarian beer and traditional German fare like pretzels, pork knuckle and sausages are your idea of a good time, then pencil in Oktoberfest as a festival not to be missed.
Held in Munich, Germany, this celebration of all things beer runs from September to the first weekend in October. All you need is a love of beer and one gigantic thirst! In 2012, 6.4 million were in attendance and a total of 6.9 million litres of beer were drunkiv.
South by Southwest
March, United States of America
Initially set up as a showcase for the creative industries, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences & Festivals celebrates original music, independent film, and emerging technologies. SXSW visitors are introduced to some of the world's best up-and-coming filmmakers, bands, performers and creative technologies.
The festival is held every year in March in the fascinating hipster haven Austin, Texas, home to eccentric and diverse bars and clubs promoting the city's unofficial motto, "Keep Austin Weird".
Mardi Gras New Orleans
January, United States of America
Mardi Gras New Orleans, Louisiana, runs from the 6th of January and goes for two weeks. Like Rio's Carnival, the festival is a combination of music (New Orleans own distinctive take on jazz), elaborate costumes, masked balls, and parades down the city's French Quarter. Being a part of one of the world's biggest, brightest and longest parties is definitely one for the travel itinerary.
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is arguably the world's biggest carnival and is held in the Brazilian city during the lead up to Easter Sunday every year. An estimated 2 million revellers line the streets every day during the festival to watch Rio's samba dancers dressed in imaginative, colourful and elaborate costumes. In Carnival, the competition is serious, with some 200 samba schools competing for the glory of being the best in Brazil. The street parties are also serious business with around 300 happening throughout Rio during the course of the festival. If you think you have the stamina to party non-stop, or simply want to samba with the best-of-the-best, Carnival is a must see.
Venice Biennial (Biennale di Venezia)
Every second year, Italy
Held every two years, the Venice Biennial is one of the oldest (established in 1895) and largest contemporary art exhibitions in the world. In addition to the art exhibitions, the annual Venice Film Festival, the oldest international film festival in the world, is also held during this time. Maximise a trip to Venice by planning to visit when both festivals coincide.
San Diego, United States of America
Comic-Con is one of the biggest comic books events in the world. It is held over four days in San Diego, California, during the summer, where comic aficionados from around the world come to share their passion for stories in graphic art format. It's the only time where fans can mingle with comic creators, sci-fi and fantasy authors, directors, producers and writers.
And if comics aren't your thing, it's worth going just for a spot of people-watching: Comic Con is also a huge dress-up event, where fans indulge their comic book fantasies in elaborate outfits!
Whichever festival you choose to take part in, it's important to have travel insurance to protect you in the event of something not going to plan. For more information on insuring yourself abroad, get a travel insurance quote online today.
i Sapporo Snow Festival, 2013, The 64th Sapporo Snow Festival Outline, http://www.snowfes.com/english/outline/index.html
ii Michaels, S., 2013, Rolling Stones Glastonbury rumours fuelled by Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno, The Guardian 7 March 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/mar/07/rolling-stones-glastonbury-rumours-kasabian
iii BBC News, 2012, Glastonbury tickets sell out in record time, 7 October 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-19861686
iv Landeshauptstadt MÜnchen, October 2012, Presseinformation, http://www.muenchen.de/rathaus/dms/Home/Stadtverwaltung/Referat-fuer-Arbeit-und-Wirtschaft/tam/Presse/PR-Releases-OF/Preliminary_Final_Report_on_the_Oktoberfest_2012.pdf