What's on around the world in January 2016

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What's on around the world in January 2016

The New Year brings winter wonderlands of ice carving, snow sculpting, kings on parade, and a mountain on fire to Northern climes, while the warmer regions are ablaze with colour for religious festivals, dancing and parties.


It's parades, parties, cruises, cowboys and film as the USA begins the New Year.

Witness the Sundance Film Festival, the undisputed king of independent film festivals at Park City, Utah from January 21 to 31. Park City is also the centre of Utah skiing with numerous highly-rated resorts nearby including Deer Valley and the large Park City Mountain Resort that now incorporates the ski resort previously known as The Canyons.

The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Source: Raffi Asdourian, Flickr user rasdourian, https://www.flickr.com/photos/zaffi/, https://www.flickr.com/photos/zaffi/5421789353/, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0), https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode.

'Find your adventure' in Pasadena, California, at the annual New Year Rose Parade from 8 in the morning of New Years Day. Float decorating to the theme starts on December 27, then the route is crowded with spectators as the creations take to the streets. Later in the day is the Rose Bowl collegiate football match.

Watch the 116-year-old tradition as 10,000 disguised and decorated men, woman and children take to the streets in the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on 1 January, starting at 10am at City Hall.

Set sail with Holy Ship! a 3-night luxury cruise featuring the world's best in electronica departing 3 January, from Miami Florida. For the more relaxed, join the Jam Cruise departing Miami Florida January 6 with 5 days on board luxury cruise ship, the MSC Divina, stopping in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Ride 'em Cowboy at the Forth Worth Stock Show and Rodeo from 15 January to 6 February with 23 days of Stock Shows and Rodeo events at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, Forth Worth, Texas. The all Western Parade is held on Saturday January 16 from 11am. No motorized vehicles allowed and there will be family friendly activities, live music and a carnival.

Hear the true heart and soul of Country at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, presented by Western Folklife Center, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to preserving Cowboy culture based in Elko, Nevada from 25 to 30 January.


In Northern America, snow and ice rhyme with winter playground, with the Carnaval de Québec, the Fête des Neiges, Winterlude and Banff's SnowDays in Canada this January.

Party in Québec City, Québec for the Quebec Winter Carnival 2016 in Battlefields Park, January 29 to February 14. Bonhomme (short for Bonhomme de neige - think Frosty), the event's mascot will be on parade. There will be free outdoor and indoor parties, winter sports (including a sleigh race and an ice canoe race on the St Lawrence River), ice sculpture competitions and a free outdoor public banquet.

The canoe race at the Carnaval de Québec in Quebec City, eastern Canada. Source: Jamie McCaffrey, Flickr user 15609463@N03, https://www.flickr.com/people/15609463@N03/, https://www.flickr.com/photos/15609463@N03/8474244407/, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0), https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode.

Not to be outdone by the provincial capital, Québec's Montréal will host the Fête des Neiges from 16 January to 7 February at Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal.

Meanwhile Ottawa, Canada's national capital, is hosting the world's largest skating rink, normally known as the Rideau Canal for the Winterlude Festival. There will be 7.8 km of skating on the frozen canal as well as ice sculptures from 29 January to 15 February.

Visit Banff, in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, for the Banff SnowDays with live entertainment, ice carving demonstrations, the Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise, the Big Bear ski and rail event, snowshoeing, dog sledding and geocaching. The festival runs from January 15 to February 7.


If you weren't lucky enough to grab tickets to Jam Cruise, Electronica Fans can head to the BPM Festival, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for ten days from January 8 to 17.


While January 7 marks the Orthodox and Coptic Churches Christmas Day, the Western tradition honours the coming of the three wise men on January 6. In France, children will be choosing a King for the day from the Galette des Rois. In Austria and the Benelux countries the Three Kings go door-to-door singing and receiving a gift in return. In Germany and parts of Austria, the Sternsinger (Star Singer) goes door-to-door and a blessing is chalked above the household's main entryway.

Walk to the beat of drums in the Basque Country's La Tamborrada as San Sebastián celebrates its patron saint's day with 24 hours of drumming from January 19 to 20. Adults and children alike dress up and take to the streets with their drums and enjoy special celebratory feasts of seafood at lunch or dinner.

Pop on a mask and parade as Venice breaks out in colour for the Carnevale di Venezia from January 23 to 9 February. The first celebrations, the Festa Veneziana parts one and two are on the January 23 and 24, the Festa delle Marie parade takes place on 30 January.

Colour and masks at Carnevale di Venezia. Source: Giorgio Minguzzi, Flickr user iz4aks, https://www.flickr.com/photos/iz4aks/, https://www.flickr.com/photos/iz4aks/5503073681/, under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0), https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Be invaded by Vikings at Lerwick, Scotland on January 26 for Up Helly Aa day when 1000 Viking-outfitted locals take over the town. This Viking Fire Festival takes place on the last Tuesday of January in the capital of the Shetland Isles as the Guizer Jarl and his Jarl Squad don their new shields and join the other Jarls in a torch-lit procession starting at 7:30pm and ending in the burning of a galley.

See the Northern Lights from the Kiruna Snow Festival in Swedish Lapland from January 27 to 30. In a winter wonderland, there will be a snow-made kids playground, snow sculpting, skiing, snowboarding, handicrafts to buy, kids horse-riding (unless it's colder than -10 degrees Celsius), dog-sledding, reindeer races and snowmobile jumping.

Rev your engines, the first World Rally Championship of the FIA calendar kicks off with the Monte Carlo Rally from 18 to 24 January. Visit France's Alpes-Maritimes, Alpes-de-Haute Provence and Hautes-Alpes regions as well as Monte Carlo itself for the 374.89 km race. The vintage car rally will run January 27 to February 3.


Join the crowds as they flock to Kalibo from January 8 to 17 for Ati-Atihan, the week-long festival honouring the Santo Nino (baby Jesus) in Aklan Province of the Philippines. The festival is a whirl of colour with dancing, music, fantastical costumes and sometimes even traditional weapons.

If you miss out on Ati Atihan, head to Dinagyang. Believed to be influenced by Ati Atihan, this three-day celebration honouring the Holy Child (Santo Nino) is celebrated in Iloilo city on the fourth Sunday in January, falling on the 24th in 2016.

Watch a mountain go up in flames and fireworks at Wakakusa Yamayaki in Nara, Japan on January 22. As part of the New Year celebrations, every year on the fourth Saturday of January sacred fire from Kasuga Taisha Shrine is taken by torch and used to ignite Mount Wakakusa which is then allowed to burn for half an hour. The best viewing is from Nara City but get in early to get a good view and don't forget to rug up, as it gets cold.

Buy a lucky bamboo and join the faithful praying for business success on January 10 at the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine in Osaka for the Shinto Festival of Toka Ebisu. The Festival is celebrated all over Japan by praying to the God of business success, but is especially important at shrines in Osaka, Kyoto and Kukuoka.

See the world's largest ice sculptures in north eastern China at the Harbin Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival, a festival of lights and ice opening January 5 and continuing through February with fireworks, and sculptures created from huge blocks of ice carved from the Songhua River. This year's theme is "Happy Ice Snow, Exciting City".

In a celebration that attracts over a million each year, the Hindu Festival of Thaipusam Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia sees penitents (Kavadi (burden) carriers) pierced by hooks and skewers make the procession from Kuala Lumpur to the Temple of Murugan (Hindu God of War) in the Batu Caves from January 23. The three-day festival originated in Tamil Nadu in India and penitents prepare from 48 days ahead with a vegetarian diet, celibacy and prayer which sends the worshippers into a trance permitting them to carry out the feats.

If flying the friendly skies is more to your taste, join the Uttarayan Festival in Gujarat, India where the skies are filled with kites to celebrate the change of seasons from winter to summer on January 14.

Still in India, in Tamil Nadu province, join the Pongal Festival, the Hindu Thanksgiving, on 15 January for the four-day-long harvest festival held when rice, sugar cane and turmeric are harvested. There are bonfires and racing cows decorated with beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and garlands of flowers.

January 26 is one of India's three national holidays, Republic Day, where India's self-government and Constitution is celebrated with a parade by the armed forces and dancers in Delhi and a particularly eminent guest is invited. Last year it was U.S. President Barack Obama.

The following day, 27 January, the town of Madurai in Tamil Nadu celebrates the Madurai Float Festival (Teppothsavam). Idols of the goddess Meenakshi and her consort Lord Sundareshwarar are taken and floated on Lake Teppakolam in a procession, then drawn in a decorated float around the shrine in the middle of the lake.

New Zealand

If you love street performers, Christchurch, New Zealand is the place to be, between January 14 and 24, for the SCIRT World Buskers Festival. There will be daily performances by the best street performers, buskers, acrobats, hoola-hoopers, musicians, circus and Vaudeville acts at Busker Park on the L7P stage, Stage 3 and SCIRT Stage and Buskers Kid Pitch.


In Cape Town, South Africa, one New Year's party is not enough, so on January 2 visit Kaapse Klopse, a street parade of minstrels singing Cape Jazz in a music and dance extravaganza. The Cape Town Minstrel Festival kicks of South Africa's Bemajor competition between the 40-odd Minstrel clubs of Cape Town running every Saturday until mid-February.